Bradley Shelver on Touring with the Limon Dance Company and Rehearsing for the Elan Awards Showcase
The Limón Dance Company recently spent six weeks in the studio discussing, fixing and rehearsing our next show: a mixed repertory program with pieces by Lar Lubovitch and José Limón. Spending so much time in the studio made everyone miss being on stage, so we were more than ready to take our show on the road to Cleveland. The trip also served as a trial run for our tour that started in October. Early one Thursday morning, 24 people—including the dancers, lighting designers, carpenters, costume, set and prop designers, production stage manager, artistic director, company manager and executive director—went to Cleveland.
The first evening there, we went to a reception in our honor at the Cleveland Public Library. Since Cleveland was one of the first places to host José Limón, in the ’50s, the community felt a special connection to our work. This year marks the company’s 60th anniversary, so we were prepared for, and looked forward to, long tours filled with parties like this one, hard work, press conferences and outreach work. We knew the next few days would be stressful and long, so we embraced the opportunity to relax a little and talk with people who support us.
The next day began with a community lecture demonstration, followed by a five-hour technical rehearsal for our new ballet, choreographed by Lubovitch. We spent three hours just rehearsing what happens backstage; as a company, we had never worked on a production of this scale before. In the 26-minute piece, many of us had four or five costume changes, so fast that they had to be timed to the second. We also made the set changes part of the choreography, because there wasn’t enough time for the crew to do them, and union regulations prevent anyone but crew members from making set changes. Working in a union theater has other challenges, such as adhering to break regulations and use of the stage.
Lubovitch also brought his designers with him, and it was phenomenal to see how the costumes, sets and lighting came together seamlessly. As a performer, you can’t always see the big picture of a piece. Because this was the first time we had worked with these sets and costumes, we spent a lot of time figuring out how they would work together. After teching one more ballet—a revival of Limón’s A Choreographic Offering, complete with new costumes and lighting—we left the theater excited for opening night. It was exhilarating to finally perform our work in front of 2,800 people at the huge State Theatre in Cleveland.
Back in NYC
After returning from my four-day stay in Cleveland, next on my itinerary was a technical rehearsal for my own piece, The Decision Theory, a duet for a man and a woman set to jazz music (composed by Anthony Rutt) that premiered at the 2005 Elan Awards in NYC in October. It’s difficult to be a full-time performer, part-time teacher and new choreographer. I had been rehearsing with my dancers in the evenings, after we had spent eight hours rehearsing with our own full-time companies. I have found this kind of dedication throughout the industry. I’m constantly inspired by performers like Limón veteran Roxanne D’Orleans Juste, who has been with the company for more than 20 years, Pedro Ruiz of Ballet Hispanico, and Dudley Williams, who spent 38 years with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Each of these dancers gives an extraordinary amount of time, work, artistry and vision to the artform.
It’s a gift to witness Lubovitch command a tech rehearsal and to see our own artistic director, Carla Maxwell, recreate, coach and rehearse works like it’s second nature. I feel lucky to have such first-hand experiences, to learn from amazing people, and to have the chance to expand my own creativity and knowledge.
It's time to get your pirouette on! From September 5th to September 30th, we're hosting a contest to find out who's the best turner of them all.
Put together your most impressive turning combo. Post a video online. Share your turns with us and thousands of other dancers around the world. And if our editors think you're the top turner, you'll win a fabulous prize.
All of 18-year-old Kaylin Maggard's dreams—from scoring the title of National Senior Outstanding Dancer at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals to winning the 2017 Dance Spirit Cover Model Search—are coming true. And to anyone who knows the gorgeous contemporary dancer, that's no surprise.
From the moment the Dance Spirit staff met Kaylin, it was obvious her humility and talent would take her far. Not only did she go full-out during the photo shoot and class at Broadway Dance Center, but she was always cheering on, laughing with, and supporting her fellow CMS contestants Haley Hartsfield and Michelle Quiner. During the voting period, the social media world was abuzz with praise for her work ethic, positive attitude, and generosity.
Since her CMS trip to NYC, Kaylin's moved from her hometown of Columbia, MO, to the Big Apple for her freshman year at Juilliard, and is busy getting acquainted with the city. As for the future? She's taking it one opportunity at a time, but something tells us we'll be seeing this contemporary queen reach new heights every year.
New York City principal Lauren Lovette has become an icon thanks to her emotional maturity and exceptional musicality. The 26-year-old quickly rose through the ranks after joining the company as an apprentice in 2009, reaching principal status in 2015. A Thousand Oaks, CA, native, Lovette started studying ballet seriously at age 11, at the Cary Ballet Conservatory in Cary, NC. After attending two summer courses at the School of American Ballet, she enrolled as a full-time student in 2006. Last year, she made her choreographic debut with For Clara, her first piece for NYCB. Catch her latest work this month during the company's fall season. —Courtney Bowers
In our "Dear Katie" series, former NYCB soloist Kathryn Morgan answers your pressing dance questions. Have something you want to ask Katie? Email firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance to be featured!
I know I'm not getting good enough dance training from any of my local studios. But I'm not sure I'm ready to move away to study at a big-name school, either. How do you know when you're ready to leave home to pursue your passion?
Instagram star Kylie Shea has built a following of nearly 170,000 with her playful workout videos, which combine traditional fitness activities, like jumping rope or running on the treadmill, with pointe shoes and sassy choreography. Shea's effortless cool-girl-next-door vibe and solid ballet technique make her vids totally irresistible.
Now Shea's using her platform to address the body image issues that tend to plague dancers. In a poignant video, she sheds her clothes and tugs at her skin. The caption explains her relationship with her body and the pressure she feels to maintain a certain aesthetic as a dancer.
Physical discomfort is inevitable when you're spending tons of hours in the studio every day, but some pain shouldn't be suffered through. "Dancing through pain can make an injury worse and lead to more time away from dance," says Dr. Joel Brenner, medical director of dance medicine at Children's Hospital of The King's Daughters in Norfolk, VA. "Failing to rest and recover when you're in serious pain could even lead to the point where you're unable to dance in the future."
That may sound scary, but there's good news: If you take precautions and listen to your body, many injuries can be stopped in their tracks. The first step? Knowing what's normal—and what's not.
Think about it: How often do you see a ballet pas de deux for two women? Almost never, right? Sometimes, choreographers will forgo the traditional danseur-ballerina pas to make a duet for two guys, since they can lift and partner each other easily. But a dance for two ballerinas is a rare thing.
That's part of what makes "Duet," a new video by director Andrew Margetson featuring Royal Ballet beauties Yasmin Naghdi and Beatriz Stix-Brunell, so compelling.