Pilobolus's "Hapless" Wonderland
Did you read Art Spiegelman's Maus comic books in high school, like I did? If so, you'll probably be surprised by Hapless Hooligan in "Still Moving," Spiegelman's collaboration with the ever-popular Pilobolus dance company. The Maus books were brutal, desperate, heavy; I expected Hapless to be in the same vein. But it's not--at all. Hapless is, instead, a zany, joyful, down-the-rabbit-hole adventure. It's also a brilliantly realized combination of animation, shadowplay, and dance.
Hapless tells the story of Hap and his lady love Lulu, who are continually separated in life but united in death. Simple enough; the genius is in the telling of that story. For the majority of the piece, dancers silhouetted behind a screen--a Pilobolus trademark--interact with Spiegelman's drawings, which are projected on that same screen. It's a format that transforms the dancers into living cartoons, who can sometimes manipulate their animated world but are more often at its mercy. (Hap finds himself inside a line-drawing box, for example; he's able to push open a door in one side, but that door smacks him in the rear on his way out.) Occasionally the screen is raised, giving us a peek at the goings-on behind the scenes, and at the dancers' real bodies. Sometimes dancers move in front of the screen, but continue to interact with, or echo, the shadows behind it.
My colleague remarked that this silhouetted format added magic and mystery to Pilobolus' signature gymnastics, which can sometimes seem like tricks for tricks' sake. In Hapless, the environment itself is the trick, which frees the dancers to tell the story. And they do, in wonderful, weird, giggle-inducing ways. More, please!
We've said it before and we'll say it again: New York City Ballet principal Sara Mearns is some SERIOUS #goals. Her strength and power onstage borders on superhuman. But what's extra magical about Mearns is that she really puts in the fitness and cross-training work outside of the rehearsal studio. And she's overcome her fair share of injuries. Which is why she was the perfect source for Vogue's latest ballet fitness story.
Well, this brings class videos to a whole new level! Choreographer Phil Wright and dancer Ashley Liai have been together eight-plus years, but she was still in total shock when he proposed to her mid-dance at Millennium Dance Complex earlier this week. Why? Well, the whole thing was unbelievably perfect.
In the dance industry, dancers don't always have a say in what they wear on their bodies. This can get tricky if you're asked to wear something that compromises your own personal values. So what should you do if you find yourself in this sticky situation? We sat down for a Q&A with "Dancing with the Stars" alumn Ashly Costa to answer that very question. Here's what she had to say about the options dancers have surrounding questionable costumes.