June 22, 2016

Recently journalist Deirdre Kelly of DANCE Magazine asked me for a choreographer's perspective on ballet's body image issues.  She only needed a short quote, but once I started writing I couldn't stop.  For many of us (both male and female) who grew up in ballet, this is a big, messy topic that takes time to untangle.

In my late teens and early twenties I was on the receiving end of a few fat chats and weigh-ins.   When...

April 15, 2016

Last weekend I took a stroll through the Lower East Side and happened into McKenzie Fine Art, where the current exhibit is “Homeostasis” by Judith Braun.  From the sidewalk I could see only that the work was quite detailed, and this drew me in.  

 

One side of the room was hung with many small drawings, while on the opposite side, the wall itself was painted in a large symmetrical design. The gallerist was in in mid-conversation with another visitor,...

February 17, 2016

 

This is the third in a series of posts on the process of creating a new work entitled "Elapse"

 

Once I've cast dancers, taught phrases, and collected base material, I cannot procrastinate any longer. I have to start composing the actual choreography. This is the layer that the audience will see, and nothing is harder than laying down the first strokes. At this point I look around the studio and wish someone else were in charge.  A grownup....

February 12, 2016

This is the second in series of posts on the process of creating a new work entitled "Elapse"

 

Some of the most frequently asked questions by audience members in post-show Q&As are about music. How do you choose your music? What comes first, the choreography or the music?

 

For me, the music usually isn’t the first piece of the puzzle.  

 

I start with an idea or image.  In the case of my new piece Elapse for Ballet Memphis, it was the idea of running out of...

February 11, 2016

This is the first in a series about the process of creating a new work entitled "Elapse"

 

Elvis Costello allegedly said that “writing about music was like dancing about architecture.”   As a choreographer, I agree. It's challenging (though rewarding) to create work about anything besides dance itself.  I love to see meaning emerge from movement, even if it dissolves back into abstraction within seconds.  In my mind every piece I’ve created...

May 1, 2015

Last year I was asked to give a brief onstage introduction to one of my choreographies.  Afterwards I walked down into the audience in full view and took my seat as the lights dimmed.  Seven minutes or so into my piece (at about the moment pictured here) , a man sitting right behind me exclaimed in outrage,“You call that ballet?”. 

 

 My face got hot and I worried for the rest of the piece that he’d have more to say.  He didn’t, but the exp...

April 23, 2015

 

A few weeks ago I happened upon a Facebook thread on the subject of “who are today’s “dance rebels”?".  The question made me cringe and feel itchy for reasons I couldn’t articulate, but I didn’t have the willpower to look away.  As I scrolled through the 90-some responses, I saw people nominating themselves(!) as well as their friends and colleagues.  These nominations provoked others to express their discontent with “dance darlings”, white men, colo...

March 22, 2015

Group sections are the heart and pulse of the choreography I've made so far. But groups are really hard.....hard to work in and hard to work with.

When I was 17 and dancing in the corps, a senior dancer I admired took me aside and told me I was ruining the Kingdom of the Shades by focusing only on my own dancing while ignoring lines, spacing, etc. Suitably shamed, I trained myself to be a better team member, but it wasn't my favorite kind of dancing. It...

March 21, 2015

 

This is a still image from a film, and that's me in the window. But the story behind it is more interesting.

 

 

In 2006 Drew Jacoby came to audition for Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, my company at the time. I was shocked by her power and confidence in class. She was everything I was, but way more, better, and younger. I felt that if she joined the company, I would lose my "tall woman" roles and not be cast for anything henceforth.

 

With my dance career fi...

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