Merce's Power to Move
For a long time, I found that the elegant, cerebral works of Merce Cunningham left me a bit cold. Cunningham's studies of dance as it exists independently from music, a concept he explored with composer and partner John Cage, was—is—revolutionary. The resulting collages of sound and movement, often paired at random, are indisputable masterpieces. But while I could appreciate them, I couldn't enjoy them. I've always needed dance that comes from music, that only lives because of music, that needs music.
Last night, that changed. The Merce Cunningham Dance Company, which will dissolve in a few weeks, is in the middle of its final run at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, one of its longtime homes. Maybe it was that uniquely poignant context that, as I watched the dancers navigate the peaks and valleys of Cunningham's BIPED, made me cry. Maybe it was the strangely poetic projections of larger-than-life "dancers," often abstracted to a constellation of points, that framed the performers. Maybe it was Gavin Bryars' hypnotic, melancholic score, which made the whole work feel like an elegy. Or maybe it's just taken me this long to "get" Merce. I'm so glad I finally did.
There are dancers and then there are DANCERS! Whitney Jensen, soloist at Norwegian National Ballet, is the latter. The former Boston Ballet principal can do it all. From contemporary to the classics this prima has the technical talent most bunheads dream about. Need proof? Look no further.
Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee's dance inducing hit, "Despacito," is so catchy it should probably come with a disclaimer that warns people of an uncontrollable itch to tap your feet or bob your head. Some might even feel inclined to go all out and break it down. Niana Guerrero is a prime example of "Despacito's" uncanny ability to unleash the red dressed emoji dancer within. 💃🏽 💃🏽
Guys, we all knew this was coming—"World of Dance" was eventually going to eliminate someone. But man, is it brutal to watch these talented dancers give their all, only to be sent home. It's the name of the game, though, and after last night's episode, only two dancers per division remain. (At least Misty Copeland guest-judging was a silver lining!) Here's what went down last night:
They've impressed the judges, now it's time for the Top 100 dancers to enroll at The Academy—and to impress the All-Stars. Welcome to So You Think You Can Dance Academy!
The 100 dancers who made it through auditions in NYC or L.A. are now at The Academy, which is basically a beautiful building with floor-to-ceiling windows. The show opens with that Mandy Moore-choreographed Academy routine which, even after watching it 12 times and trying to learn all the choreography at home, is still delightful.
This Nationals season, Dance Spirit followed four talented dancers from The Dance Awards, NYCDA, Showstopper, and Starpower for an inside look at everything that goes into the biggest competitions of the year. First up: Isabella Torres from Mid-Atlantic Center for the Performing Arts in Baltimore, MD, who competed at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals for the first time this year. (All photos courtesy Shannon Torres.)
Merritt Moore is a ballerina who just so happens to be graduating from Oxford University with a PhD in quantum physics. Is she even human? The jury is still out on that - but the 29-year-old, who earned her undergrad degree from Harvard, has actually found dance to be a powerful tool that assists her in her studies.
Happy #WorldEmojiDay, dance friends! 🎉 👯 🎉 👯
Because it's just the cutest, we thought we'd share the emoji challenge the Royal Opera House is currently hosting on Twitter. They've retold a series of ballets (and operas, for that crowd) in emoji form. If you correctly guess the name of a ballet, you'll be entered for a chance to win two tickets to a ROH production.