The Russians are coming! The Russians are coming!

Actually, they're already here: Moscow's famous Bolshoi Ballet has arrived in NYC for more than two weeks of performances.

"Bolshoi" literally translates to "big"—which is perfect, because this company doesn't do anything small. They've brought three huge productions with them to the Big Apple: classics Swan Lake and Don Quixote, and an over-the-top man-candy festival known as Spartacus.

It's a chance for New Yorkers to see ginormous stars, especially the world-renowned Svetlana Zakharova.

Zakharova being her usual unreal self in Don Quixote (photo by Gene Schiavone)

We'll also finally witness Zakharova's much-talked-about partnership with David Hallberg, the American Ballet Theatre star who's made the Bolshoi his second home.

High drama: Hallberg and Zakharova in Swan Lake (photo by Damir Yusupov)

And we'll get a good look at up-and-comers like gorgeous Olga Smirnova, who at just 22 has already earned thousands of rabidly devoted fans.

Classical perfection: Smirnova in "Diamonds" from Jewels (photo by Damir Yusupov)

Time for some real talk: The past couple of years haven't been so great for the Bolshoi. Early in 2013,  director Sergei Filin was attacked by a masked man who threw acid on his face, leaving Filin nearly blind. The resulting investigation revealed a lot of disturbing—sometimes downright scary—information about Bolshoi politics.

But Filin, who after many surgeries has regained some of his eyesight, is back at the Bolshoi's helm. (He was even a judge at the Youth America Grand Prix finals this spring.) And it's a good sign that most of the press the group has been getting recently concerns dancing, rather than scandal. Here's hoping that the company's ugliest moments are past—so we can get back to obsessing about its truly fantastic artists.

The Bolshoi Ballet performs through July 27 at Lincoln Center. Click here to learn more!

Headed to The Big Apple? The endless number of studios, shops, shows and restaurants can seem overwhelming. Let Dance Spirit and a few NYC dance insiders be your guides.

Clockwise from top left: Alex Lopez/NYC & Company, Clayton Cotterell/NYC & Company, Alex Lopez/NYC & Company, Joe Buglewicz/NYC & Company, Marley White/NYC & Company, Joe Buglewicz/NYC & Company

 

(Photo by Peter Hurley, courtesy Paloma Garcia-Lee)

Paloma Garcia-Lee: Broadway dancer Garcia-Lee has performed in Phantom of the Opera and Nice Work If You Can Get It. She says: “Follow your workouts with sweaty Yin yoga classes at Modo Yoga NYC. Some of the instructors are also dancers, so you might end up taking with someone you’ll see onstage.”

 

 

 

(Photo by Paul B Goode, courtesy Kaitlyn Gilliland)

Kaitlyn Gilliland: A former New York City Ballet corps member, Gilliland dances with Ballet Next. Her food picks: “Kefi is a great Greek restaurant on the Upper West Side, and Good Enough to Eat is a brunch favorite.”

 

 

 

 

 

(Photo courtesy Paul Taylor Dance Company)

Laura Halzack: Halzack is a member of Paul Taylor DanceCompany. Her cure for a sweet tooth: “You have to go to Doughnut Plant near the Taylor Studios at least once. I could eat one of their doughnuts every day—they have unique flavors.”

 

 

 

 

 

(Photo by Mathieu Young/FOX, courtesy Alex Wong)

Alex Wong: A “So You Think You Can Dance” All-Star, Wong is a former Newsies dancer. His training tip: “Broadway Dance Center has an ever-changing list of guest teachers. It’s a great way to take class from working choreographers who aren’t always in town.

 

 

 

 

 

Are you a ballet dancer? Start your uptown adventure here.

You wake up in the morning craving…

…something hearty. Head to one of NYC’s top bagel joints, ABSOLUTE BAGELS (Broadway, btwn W 107th and W 108th Sts)…something light and nutritious. Grab a cold-pressed juice and a yogurt parfait from JUICE PRESS (W 82nd St, btwn Columbus Ave and Central Park West).

(Logo courtesy Steps on Broadway)

You’re ready for your first class of the day. You head…

…right to the barre. “Take advanced ballet with Wilhelm Burmann or Nancy Bielski at STEPS ON BROADWAY,” Gilliland says (W 74th St and Broadway)…to Pilates first. Take a mat class at UPTOWN PILATES (W 72nd St, btwn Amsterdam and Columbus Aves). Now I’m ready for ballet...Take Kathryn Sullivan’s class at STEPS ON BROADWAY. She stresses proper placement and quick footwork.

 

How’s the weather today?

The sun is shining. Catch some rays in RIVERSIDE PARK on Manhattan’s West Side (Along Riverside Dr, from W 72nd to W 158th Sts). It’s raining. Head to PINKY’S SALON, Gilliland’s favorite spot for a manicure (Columbus Ave, btwn W 74th and W 75th Sts). Hot! But it’s perfect in the shade. Walk to CENTRAL PARK. Stroll through John Lennon’s memorial, Strawberry Fields, for a break from NYC’s hustle and bustle (Near W 72nd St and Central Park West).

Metropolitan Museum of Art (photo by Joe Buglewicz/NYC & Company)

Is that your stomach grumbling?

Let’s stay in the neighborhood. “ ’WICHCRAFT, across from the David H. Koch Theater, serves indulgent sandwiches and tasty cookies,” Gilliland says (W 62nd St and Broadway). I want to explore the East Side. Grab a falafel from a street vendor and have lunch on the stairs of THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART—then head inside to see some of the exhibits (5th Ave and E 82nd St).

 

When it comes to afternoon adventures, you prefer to…

…stay outdoors. Walk to the BOAT BASIN CAFE and enjoy a lemonade while looking

out over the Hudson River (W 79th St, in Riverside Park)…find the nearest museum. Visit the Hayden Planetarium at the AMERICAN MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY (Central Park West and W 79th St)…get sweaty! Sign up for a “Figure 4 Barre” conditioning class at PURE YOGA, where many of the instructors are former dancers (E 86th St, btwn 2nd and 3rd Aves).

Let’s stop for an afternoon pick-me-up.

Indulge my sweet tooth! Stop by TREAT HOUSE and grab some gourmet crispy treats (Amsterdam Ave, btwn W 81st and W 82nd Sts). I’m thirsty. Sip an iced tea at CAFE LALO (W 83rd St, btwn Broadway and Amsterdam Aves).

Ready for an early dinner before a show?

I want lots of options. Head to ZABAR’S CAFE for some tasty deli specialties (Broadway and W 81st St). I’m on a tight budget. Grab a $1 hot dog (or two!) at GRAY’S PAPAYA (Broadway and W 72 St).

On clear summer nights, enjoy a free LINCOLN CENTER OUT OF DOORS show with music and dance from around the globe (Columbus Ave at W 63rd St).

 

Do you dream of Broadway? Start your midtown tour here.

What’s your preferred morning meal?

I’m a full-breakfast kind of girl. Try a savory breakfast pie from PIE FACE (Broadway and W 53rd St). Something small and to-go. Order a croissant from GREGORYS COFFEE—one of Garcia-Lee’s favorite spots for a morning fix (W 44th St and 6th Ave).

Whether I’ll be tapping, strutting or popping…

…I need a soothing warm-up. Wake up your senses in a Gyrotonic session at CIRCULAR POWER INC (7th Ave, btwn W 54th and W 55th Sts)…my day starts with an intense workout. Sweat, tone and feel the burn in a dance-inspired PHYSIQUE 57 class (W 57th St, btwn 5th and 6th Aves)…nothing gets me centered like a ballet class. Take Deborah Wingert’s class at MANHATTAN MOVEMENT & ARTS CENTER. “I always take ballet at MMAC,” Wong says. “The studios are beautiful” (W 60th St, btwn Amsterdam and 11th Aves).

Now I’m warm!

(Logo courtesy Broadway Dance Center)

I want to really let go. Learn a detailed contemporary jazz combo in Slam’s mid-morning class at BROADWAY DANCE CENTER (W 45th St, btwn 8th and 9th Aves). I want a technical challenge. Take Sue Samuels’ Broadway jazz class at BROADWAY DANCE CENTER.

 

 

 

Famished?

Yes! Let’s get lunch. “GREEN SYMPHONY is my favorite quick stop,” says Garcia-Lee. Try a veggie wrap or a kale salad (W 43rd St, btwn 7th and 8th Aves). I could go for a small snack. Head to the signature NYC grocery store DEAN & DELUCA (W 56th St, btwn 6th and 7th Aves).

Time for some sightseeing. 

Let’s stay outside. Tour the CENTRAL PARK ZOO and visit the two super-cute snow leopard cubs (E 64th St and 5th Ave). Let’s go to a museum. Soak in the bizarre and the beautiful at THE MUSEUM OF MODERN ART (W 53rd St, btwn 5th and 6th Aves).

What’s on your afternoon agenda? 

I can’t leave NYC without doing a little window shopping. Stroll down 5TH AVE for the best displays in town (5th Ave, btwn E 59th and E 42nd Sts). I’m ready for some fun cardio. While THE AILEY SCHOOL is known as a mecca for modern dance, its ZUMBA FITNESS classes are some of the most popular in NYC (W 55th St and 9th Ave). I want to get cheap Broadway tickets. Head to the TKTS BOOTH in Times Square. Garcia-Lee’s advice: “Get in line early!” (Broadway and 47th St).

I’m starving! Before a night on the town, I want…

…a trendy dinner. “Get the Adobe Salad from EATERY,” says Garcia-Lee. “It’s my favorite salad in Hell’s Kitchen” (W 53rd and 9th Ave)…a classic pastrami sandwich. Go to CARNEGIE DELI for sandwiches big enough to split with a friend (W 55th St and 7th Ave).

New York City Center (photo by Aislinn Weidele/Ennead Architects)

Head to THE GREAT WHITE WAY. Check out our “Broadway Show Guide” to see what’s playing. See what musicals may be Broadway-bound at “Encores! Off-Center” at NEW YORK CITY CENTER (W 55th St, btwn 6th and 7th Aves).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are you a downtown diva? Modern or contemporary dancers, start here.

I always start the day with…

…fruits and veggies. Try a PB Açai Bowl and a green juice from JUICE GENERATION (Prince and Crosby Sts, in the Equinox Gym)…a protein-filled punch. Head to DAVID’S BAGELS for one of the city’s best egg-and-cheese sandwiches (1st Ave, btwn E 15th and E 16th Sts).

Let’s get moving!

A modern class starts my day on a positive note. Take class from Paul Taylor Dance Company members at THE TAYLOR SCHOOL (Grand St, btwn Jackson and Lewis Sts). I’m craving a full-body workout. Hop into a conditioning session with Rachel Piskin at CHAISEFITNESS (E 23rd St, btwn Madison and Park Aves). I want to sweat before dance class. Try a spin class at SOULCYCLE (SoHo location: Crosby St, btwn Spring and Broome Sts).

(Logo courtesy Gibney Dance)

Now I’m ready for class. 

I want to explore a postmodern style. See who’s leading a contemporary workshop at the new downtown GIBNEY DANCE CENTER (Broadway and Chambers St).

 

(Photo courtesy Peridance Capezio Center)

I want something classic. Get a lesson in Limón Technique at THE PERIDANCE CAPEZIO CENTER (E 13th St, btwn 3rd and 4th Aves).

Time for lunch!

Let’s get a burger. Head to SHAKE SHACK—and try a custard, too. “My favorite is the Urban Lumber-Shack,” says Wong. “It’s vanilla custard with Belgian waffles, bananas, bacon and peanut brittle” (Madison Square Park, E 23rd St and Madison Ave). I love PB & Js. Try a crazy concoction from PEANUT BUTTER & CO., like The Heat Is On Sandwich: spicy peanut butter with grilled chicken and pineapple jam (Sullivan St, btwn Bleecker and W 3rd Sts).

Let’s get lunch outside.

I want to head downtown. Take the subway to the newly renovated SOUTH STREET SEAPORT (Pier 17, at Fulton and Front Sts). I want something fresh. Taste locally sourced produce and baked goods as you stroll through the UNION SQUARE GREENMARKET (E 14th St and Broadway). OK, but let’s go for a ride first. Pedal a CitiBike across the BROOKLYN BRIDGE and get a pizza from GRIMALDI’S (Front

and Old Fulton Sts).

Next, I’d like to...

…take a moment to reflect. Visit the new WORLD TRADE CENTER and The National September 11 Memorial & Museum (Albany and Greenwich Sts)… see the sights. You can take the free ferry to Staten Island and enjoy incredible views of THE STATUE OF LIBERTY (Hop the 1 train to South Ferry station).

For an afternoon break, I want to…

Washington Square Park (photo by LittleNY/Thinkstock)

…hang out with friends. Listen to street musicians in WASHINGTON SQUARE PARK (5th Ave, btwn W 4th St and Waverly Pl)…get something sweet. Visit the home of the original cronut—a croissant and doughnut hybrid—DOMINIQUE ANSEL BAKERY (Spring St, btwn Sullivan and Thompson Sts).

Before a show, I want…

…something hearty. “THE MEATBALL SHOP is fun, and not crazy-expensive,” says Halzack. “I love the traditional Bolognese Ball” (Greenwich Ave, btwn W 11th and Perry Sts)…dessert for dinner! “CHIKALICIOUS DESSERT BAR in the East Village has the best desserts in the world,” says Wong. “And the owners are big dance supporters” (E 10th St, btwn 1st and 2nd Aves).

See companies including Pilobolus and RIOULT Dance NY this summer at THE JOYCE THEATER (8th Ave, btwn W 18th and W 19th Sts). For the latest postmodern and contemporary work, head to DANSPACE PROJECT (E 10th St and 2nd Ave).

 

 

The Lincoln Center in NYC hosts a summer festival each year, and this year one of the highlights was a four-performance run by the Belgian choreographer Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker.

You might have heard of de Keersmaeker from the controversy surrounding Beyoncé's "Countdown" music video: There were remarkably similar (if not identical) moments in both pieces—though Queen Bey claimed she had only used de Keersmaeker's choreography as inspiration.

Regardless, it's clear that de Keersmaeker is as deeply influential as she is deeply strange—and difficult to watch. Judging from the moments that Beyoncé borrowed, you might think that de Keersmaeker's work is highly gestural, with quick changes of direction, like a lot of other modern dance choreography. Her choreography does include those elements, but it also plays with repetition, stillness and subtlety, making it challenging to watch (read: sit through) for even the most committed dance lover.

The beauty of her work is in the challenge of viewing it. It's not fun. It's not entertaining. The dancers aren't doing anything crazy with their bodies, and yet...you can't look away.

Check out the video below—it's a dance-on-film version of de Keersmaeker's Rosas danst Rosas—and let us know what you think!

It's time to get super psyched about multidisciplinary collaborations, guys.

Last year, New York City Ballet held its first annual Art Series, an installation that commissions contemporary artists to work with the dancers in hopes of inspiring something spectacular. And when they brought in FAILE, the Brooklyn-based partnership of Patrick McNeil and Patrick Miller, to kick off the series, the artists did not disappoint.

Just one result of the glorious collaboration between FAILE and NYCB

Well, it's just about time for the second annual Art Series—this time around featuring the French artist known as JR. (He keeps his identity "unknown"...how avant-garde is that?!) JR treats the world as his gallery, posting his artwork throughout the streets of different countries so that everyone—even those without the money or initiative to go to a museum—can witness art.

JR photographs the NYCB dancers in the shape of an eye. A little preview of the installation! (Photo by Spencer Elzay)

The installation will run in conjunction with the ballet for three performances—January 23, February 7 and February 13—at the David H. Koch Theater in Lincoln Center. All tickets are $29 (and everyone walks away with a small token of the exhibit...pretty good deal!). The gallery will also open to the public for free viewing from February 2 to February 9. Click here for more info.

In the meantime, check out this video where JR explains his experience working with NYCB:

NDT photographed by Rahi Rezvani

There are two types of people in the dance world: Those who are obsessed with Nederlands Dans Theater, and those who haven't seen the troupe perform yet.

NDT is a dancer's company, and I mean that in two senses. First, its repertoire is chock-full of rich, calligraphic pieces that dancers just love to perform. Second, the company dancers themselves are gorgeous. They're rare beasts, those NDT-ers: They manage to be emotionally raw and technically polished at the same time. (Right now, by the way, their ranks include one of our all-time favorites, Drew Jacoby.)

This week, the Joyce Theater Foundation is bringing NDT to Lincoln Center's David H. Koch Theater. It's the company's first NYC visit in eight long years, which means a lot of Big Apple dance nerds are getting very excited right about now. While NDT is best-known for its Jiří Kylián repertoire—Kylián was its artistic director from 1975-2004—the New York program will give us a look at two works by dynamic duo Paul Lightfoot (the current artistic director) and Sol León.

Click here to find out more about the program, and get a sneak peek at the dancing below.

(A heads-up: The program does contain some nudity, though this video clip doesn't.)

I wish I were this cool. (photo by Rachel Neville for Dance Theatre of Harlem)

Another day, another accolade for the ever-awesome Michaela DePrince!

Michaela was just named one of Women in the World's 25 Under 25. To which we say: Duh.

Still, considering that the list also includes Oscar-nominated Beasts of the Southern Wild star Quvenzhané Wallis and fashion blogger extraordinaire Tavi Gevinson—pretty impressive!

The timing is fitting, too: Michaela is about to perform in NYC for the first time with Dance Theatre of Harlem, which she joined last year. New Yorkers can catch DTH at Lincoln Center's Rose Theater next Thursday-Sunday. And Michaela fans in Tampa, Baltimore, Philly, D.C. and several other cities can see her during the last leg of DTH's tour, which runs through June.

Congrats, Michaela!

Taylor photographed by Paul Palmaro

What choreographers inspire you? My list goes on forever, but Paul Taylor has always been at the top of it. Taylor started out dancing for pioneers like Martha Graham and later became a visionary craftsman, making more than 100 dances and winning numerous awards.

New Yorkers can catch the Paul Taylor Dance Company in action this month at Lincoln Center's David H. Koch Theater. Here are the top five reasons why Paul Taylor inspires me.

1. He keeps it fresh.

Taylor continues to create new experiences for both dancers and audiences, even though there's something uniquely “Taylor” about his movement style. You may recognize signature phrases in multiple dances, but they evoke different reactions and emotions in each one.

2. His dancers are amazing.

Every strong, beautiful, technically proficient Taylor dancer is hand-picked and home-grown. All of the company's members studied at The Taylor School or worked their way up through Taylor 2 before making it into the main troupe. From petite powerhouse Parisa Khobdeh to the mesmerizing Michael Trusnovec, each dancer represents a different part of Taylor, and together they make an impressive whole.

PTDC in "3 Epitaphs." Photo by Paul B. Goode.

3. He has a sense of humor.

I love a man who can make me laugh. In Offenbach Overtures, Taylor makes fun of the French court with choreography that still shows off his dancers’ technique. And though his 3 Epitaphs is set to music traditionally played at funerals in the South, you can’t help but laugh as his dancers—covered from head to toe in Robert Rauschenberg's mud-brown unitards—lope absurdly around the stage. (3 Epitaphs actually helped generate choreographic ideas for one of my own projects.)

4. He’s a Renaissance man.

Paul Taylor is also an author. His autobiography, Private Domain, was published in 1999, and he has just released a new book of essays, Facts and Fancies, which gives you a backstage pass into his quirky mind.

5. He knows it ain’t over ’til it’s over.

Taylor will turn 83 in July, but earlier this month he unveiled his 138th dance! We tend to put an expiration date on dance careers, but Paul Taylor has demonstrated that age is just a number.

It's fashion week in NYC! One of the things I love about this city is that all the glamorous fall runway shows, now held at Lincoln Center, overlap New York City Ballet's winter season at the Koch Theater. Two of my favorite things in one beautiful plaza? Yes please!

But as we've discussed before, there's more to the ballet-fashion connection than a happy geographic accident. Fashion icon (and former Vogue Paris editor in chief) Carine Roitfeld began to discover the parallels between the two when she started taking ballet lessons a year and a half ago. Intrigued, she decided to devote the second issue of her chic CR Fashion Book to dance—ballet in particular.

And since Carine Roitfeld doesn't do things by halves, the issue's lineup sounds insanely cool. There are flip covers, one featuring a shot of ballet star Sergei Polunin by filmmaker Gus Van Sant, the other a bizarrely fascinating take on the pointe shoe by artist Brigitte Niedermair. There's a conversation with New York City Ballet legend Jacques d'Amboise, a feature on American Ballet Theatre and—get this—“an interview with the legendary (and long-dead) dancer Vaslav Nijinsky, who speaks from beyond the grave about sex and seduction, life and death," conducted by the amazing (and very much alive) Paris Opéra Ballet étoile Marie-Agnès Gillot. Crazy? Epic? I'm going to go with both.

The issue doesn't hit newsstands until February 28th in the U.S., but you can get a sneak peek at Roitfeld's foreward and a few of the issue's spreads at crfashionbook.com.

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