Rockette Lindsay and Mystere Dancer Arnaud
Changes for Arnaud
Arnaud Bertrand, who plays the Green Lizard in Mystère, faced a big change after returning mid-January from Cirque’s winter break. Sidsel Dupont, who played Arnaud’s counterpart, the Female Lizard, left the show January 2. Spending much of their onstage time together, the two dancers had become close friends. “I will miss our inside jokes and her sense of humor that she carries on as well as offstage,” Arnaud says of Sidsel.
The relationship between the two lizards is very intense, says Sidsel, and is magnified onstage, whether good or bad. She and Arnaud’s predecessor had a rocky relationship, which often affected their performance. “When Arnaud arrived [in December 2003], it was like a breath of fresh air,” Sidsel says.
Because Arnaud trained in gymnastics and modern dance in France and Sidsel has an American jazz background, they “were able to meet each other in the middle artistically,” Sidsel says. “His improv skills were much stronger than mine, but I welcomed the challenge.”
The new Female Lizard is played by Sophia Lorador, a fellow Mystère cast member and Sidsel’s understudy. Previously, Sophia performed in the show’s aerial bungee troupe, which requires swinging and flipping on a trapeze and in a bungee harness suspended from the ceiling. “She has been the back-up [for Sidsel], so I am excited for her to be that role,” Arnaud says, adding that their common gymnastics background will continue to complement each other onstage.
Lindsay Closes Shop
By Kristin Lewis
After nearly three months as a Rockette, Lindsay Howe said farewell to Radio City for another year as the show wrapped up its holiday season. “It was really sad saying goodbye to everyone,” says Lindsay, “But [the season] went really well.”
On Christmas Day, Lindsay performed two shows. “The energy was so much fun. We are part of a Christmas tradition for a lot of people,” she says. “Plus it meant more to me, because my family came all the way from California, and it’s a once a year thing for them.” In between performances on Christmas, the entire cast—roughly 200 members total—attended a special dinner and exchanged secret Santa gifts.
One of the most remarkable aspects of the show to Lindsay is the number of costume changes. “Once the show starts, it flies,” she says. Lindsay has five changes, with as little as 90 seconds between some numbers. “Most of the changes are fast. We never go back to our dressing room to change or make sure our lipstick is on.” Instead, the girls make use of designated quick change areas near the stage.
All of the dancers’ fast changes are choreographed, since not everyone changes in the same place between each number. Backstage assistants called dressers are responsible for helping the dancers change costumes, hairpieces, shoes and touch up makeup. They also handle last-minute disasters, such as mending ripped costumes.
“[Dressers are] such great multitaskers,” says Lindsay. “They make sure we’re set and haven’t forgotten anything. They take care of everything. If something breaks, they are right there to fix it or sew it up.” For instance, when the rubber partially came off of Lindsay’s shoe just before she had to go on, a dresser was right there to rubber cement the shoe back together in time for her entrance.
Practice run-throughs help everyone work out kinks. In the course of a single show, Lindsay has five different dressers, plus an electrician who makes sure her antler hat is plugged in before the Reindeer dance. (A cord runs from her hat and through her jacket and plugs into a battery pack in her sleeve, allowing the antlers to light up.)
What’s next for Lindsay? She will be heading back home to California to coach a baton team through June, then hopes to return to NYC.
Harper Watters is a ballet dancer for today's generation. A social media maestro and a charismatic performer, the Houston Ballet soloist is equally at home in front of the camera hosting his hit YouTube series, "The Pre Show"; interacting with fans on his crazy-popular Instagram account; or showing off his beautiful classical technique onstage. It's a multifaceted identity that's proven to be invaluable to his career—and it's taking him to places he never even dreamed of.
Getting corrections from our dance instructors is how we grow, and as students, it's important that we do our best to apply every correction right away. But sometimes—whether it's because we're in physical pain, or have a lot on our minds, or are just not paying attention—those corrections don't sink in. And from a teacher's standpoint, giving the same corrections time and time again gets old very fast. Here are 10 important corrections dance teachers are tired of giving. Take them to heart!
Summer intensive auditions can be nerve-racking. A panel of directors is watching your every move, and you're not even sure if you can be seen among the hundreds of other dancers in the room. We asked five summer intensive directors for their input on how dancers can make a positive impression—and even be remembered next year.
When we think of a dancer who's broken barriers, American Ballet Theatre principal Misty Copeland tends to be the name that comes to mind. And though Copeland has been a crucial advocate for equality in the world of ballet, Raven Wilkinson—a mentor of Copeland's—is considered one of the original pioneers of the movement.
In 1955, Wilkinson became the first African American to dance with the renowned Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. Her fortitude in the face of bigotry and hate cemented her legacy. Now, with the release of the new children's book Trailblazer: The Story of Ballerina Raven Wilkinson, a new generation of dancers will be inspired by her tale of overcoming obstacles to achieve a dream.
The book details Wilkinson's life, from her experience as a young dancer training in Harlem, to her run-ins with the Ku Klux Klan while on tour with Ballet Russe, to her later ballet career in Europe. "There were times where my heart really hurt because of the situations I had to deal with," she says. "But I always had faith that I was made to be a dancer and that I was gonna dance."
Dance Spirit spoke with Wilkinson to discuss the new book and get her take on racial equality within the ballet world.
Postmodern pioneer Trisha Brown redefined how dance is seen and felt. A founding member of Judson Dance Theater, Brown frequently collaborated with other experimental artists like Yvonne Rainer, Merce Cunningham, Twyla Tharp, and Steve Paxton.
She embraced pedestrian movement, pairing everyday gesture with rhythm and fluidity. "It's liquid," says Wendy Perron, who danced with Brown in the '60s and '70s. "Like a river with many tributaries, water coming out of a faucet, or being on a raft and seeing the water move away in different directions." Brown also pushed beyond stages with choreography in fields, museums—even on the sides of buildings.
There's a common misconception that a dancer's body has to be thin. But the truth is that talent knows no body type, and the number on the scale never determines an artist's capabilities. Here are some extraordinary dancers fighting the stereotype of what a dancer "should" look like.