What's one of the most important differences between ballet dancers and "normal" athletes? Misty Copeland says it best: "We're working like professional athletes are, and most of those athletes have state-of-the-art buildings and the environment they're in is very high end. We don't get the same funding and things like that as professional athletes and teams. So it's difficult."
How do you sum up an evening that includes performances of stage-shaking passion; heartfelt speeches that make you laugh and then make you ugly cry; and an inescapable sense of beautiful, joyful, warm-and-fuzzy #dancerlove?
You can do it the way legendary Merce Cunnigham dancer Valda Setterfield did it last night: By declaring that there's nothing better than being in a room full of dancers, whom she called the world's bravest, most generous souls. (Not too shabby.) Or you can do it in six words: Welcome to the Dance Magazine Awards.
Last night's ceremony marked the DM Awards' 61st anniversary, and this year's crop of honorees included luminaries from all corners of the dance world. None other than Mikhail Baryshnikov graced the stage to present the evening's first award to Karen Kain, one of the National Ballet of Canada's loveliest ballerinas and now its artistic director. Kain was one of the first people Baryshnikov met after he defected from Russia, and the two have kept up a beautiful friendship for decades—though Baryshnikov lamented in his speech that he was too short to ever dance with her. (That honor went, instead, to slouches like Rudolf Nureyev.)
Baryshnikov and Kain: BFFLs.
Also representing #teamballet was honoree Marcelo Gomes, the gorgeous American Ballet Theatre principal and choreographer who charms the heck out of both audiences and his adoring ballerinas. We were treated to a pas de deux from Gomes' recent premiere for ABT, AfterEffect—lushly danced by Cassandra Trenary and Thomas Forster—that put Gomes' deep understanding of the intricacies of partnering on display. And recently retired ABT star Julie Kent made a sweetly teary speech in which she noted that even babies "immediately feel safe in Marcelo's arms, just as I do." D'awwwwww.
Kent in her safe place
Setterfield (wearing the world's most amazing plaid pantsuit ensemble) paid tribute to David Vaughan, a dancer who basically invented the job of "dance archivist" and has served in that role for Merce Cunningham's company since 1976. Now 91, Vaughan shows zero signs of slowing down: In his lovely acceptance speech, he talked about the fact that his old friend, dance artist Pepper Fajans, had convinced him to return to the stage next month. May we all be that awesome in our tenth decade.
We saw a vividly drawn excerpt from honoree Jawole Willa Jo Zollar's Walking with 'Trane—a musing on John Coltrane's legacy—performed by Zollar's company, Urban Bush Women, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. Zollar spoke movingly about the fact that reaching a "point of stability" in one's career was actually a bad sign: On a heart monitor, ups and downs indicate a pulse, while death is a stable flatline. She urged everyone to embrace life's natural rises and falls—though now, she added, whenever she's feeling low, she can look at her Dance Magazine Award and say, "Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, you are a bada**." FACT.
The highlight of highlights for me, though, was watching flamenco virtuosa Soledad Barrio blaze through Solea, accompanied by three masterful musicians (and the "Olés!" of the appreciative crowd). Tattooing the stage with her heels, slicing the air with her arms, searing our souls with the depth of her passion, Barrio illustrated exactly what the DM Awards are all about (Charlie Brown): honoring the most extraordinary of extraordinary dance artists, the people whose brilliance is life-enhancing and life-affirming and, sometimes, life-changing.
Check out video highlights from the awards here:
There's something verrrrry special about the dancer-dog connection.
I mean, yes: Every person with a beating heart loves puppies. (Every person worth knowing, anyway. If you're a dog hater, BYE.)
Recently, photographer Elias Weiss Friedman—also known as "The Dogist" thanks to his series of fabulous doggie portraits—discovered that dancer-dog relationship amazingness. Specifically, he discovered the #DogsofABT, a crew of adorable furballs belonging to the artists of American Ballet Theatre. And believe me when I say that these dogs fully merit their own hashtag.
Friedman visited ABT company class to photograph the #DogsofABT in their natural habitat. The results were as stupidly cute as you'd imagine.
I mean, JUST LOOK at Lua, principal Marcelo Gomes' 12-year-old daschund, who "likes to do the Giselle lift":
Or Hudson, an Old English sheepdog we want to SQUISH:
Or corps dancer Lauren Post's Shih Tzu mix, Pickles, who "knows to settle down" when she hears the piano in class:
(If Pickles touches all the softest parts of your hard little heart, you need to follow her Instagram, @omg__pickles, immediately.)
Or just squee over the full #DogsofABT class portrait:
Enjoy the whole series on The Dogist's Instagram and Facebook pages. And if you need more delightful dogginess to get you going this Monday, I'd suggest a standard #DogsofABT search on Insta. You won't be disappointed.
It's no secret that American Ballet Theatre principal Marcelo Gomes is pretty much the poster boy for dancer #ManCandy. And if you need any more evidence, look no further than Lindi Ortega's music video for her latest track, "Ashes." Gomes plays one half of this love-torn couple, and Ortega's lyrics ("Why don't you come back to me? Don't leave me in the ashes of yor memory") plus Gomes' powerful moves are the perfect combo for #allthefeels. It's also no secret that we love dancer cameos in music vids, and this is a very welcome addition to the collection. We've rounded up some glorious GIFs, and be sure to check out the full video below!
Last night, basically the entire dance world got gussied up and headed to NYC's Ailey Citigroup Theater for the 60th (!) Dance Magazine Awards. How did the DMAs celebrate the big 6-0? By honoring no fewer than SIX incredible artists: Brenda Bufalino, Tony Waag, Larissa Saveliev, Wayne McGregor, Luigi and Misty Copeland. Here are the top highlights from a night that was basically all highlights.
1. We got to see three of the six awardees perform. Tap icons Bufalino and Waag did a little soft-shoeing (and, in Waag's case, singing!) alongside dancers Felipe Galganni and Lynn Schwab in an excerpt from All Blues/Tacit/Latin, a piece originally made for the American Tap Dance Orchestra. And the one and only Copeland took our breath away in Toccare, a ridiculously sexy ballet choreographed by fellow American Ballet Theatre dancer Marcelo Gomes. Odds are, even if you haven't seen the piece live, you know it through incredible photos like this one:
Holy legs, Misty. (photo by Liza Voll)
2. There was a world premiere. Gomes was basically an honorary awardee last night. We saw not only his Toccare, but also a brand-new Gomes ballet, La Mort d'Ophélie, starring ABTers Sarah Lane and Sterling Baca. Made in tribute to Saveliev, it was gently, dreamily melancholy.
3. We were reminded, yet again, of why we're obsessed with Wayne McGregor. Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's Akua Noni Parker and Jeroboam Bozeman blazed through an excerpt from McGregor's electric Chroma. (You can watch The Royal Ballet perform the same excerpt here—and believe me, you should.) There really is nothing like his wiggly, wacky, wild choreography. Though McGregor couldn't be there in person to accept his award, his beamed-in acceptance speech—an eloquent tribute to all of his collaborators, and a call for support of young artists—showed off the powerful mind behind the magic.
McGregor rehearsing Chroma at Ailey (photo Andrea Mohin/New York Times)
4. The whole audience did Luigi's classic warmup. The man himself is recovering from surgery and was unable to make the ceremony, sadly. But protégé Francis Roach, accepting on Luigi's behalf, got the dancer-filled crowd on their feet to do the first few familiar steps of the Luigi warmup—the perfect tribute to the jazz legend.
Luigi in his prime, behind the Falcon Studios in Hollywood (photo by Edith Jane)
5. Raven Wilkinson made everyone cry. The wonderful Wilkinson, who presented Copeland's award, was the only African-American dancer to perform with the Ballets Russes, and has become a mentor to Copeland. She quoted Eleanor Roosevelt—"The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams"—and praised not only the beauty of Copeland's exquisite dancing, but also the beauty of her dream of a colorblind ballet world.
Dancers dominate on Halloween. I mean, we're used to dressing up: Practically half of our life is spent putting on tights, leotards and more just to get ready for class—and the other half is spent onstage, working it in the craziest of get-ups. Of course, some dancers do Halloween in the best way possible. We've spent hours scouring the interwebs for the best of the best costumes. Here are our favorites:
Here are five Miami City Ballet dancers—I mean, Cruella De Vil and four adorable dalmatian pups:
And here's Dance Spirit 2014 Cover Model Search finalist Alyssa Allen being the best Waluigi we've ever seen:
Then there's James Whiteside bringing it way back as "Jazzman," complete with a Flashdance-inspired routine to '80s anthem "What a Feeling." Seriously, these ABT principals know how to get down.
Finally, feast your eyes on on mini-Sonya Tayeh, mini(er)-Maddie Ziegler and mini-MJ, brought to you by @Dance_CAB (Cameron Voorhees, Austyn Johnson and Bella Voorhees from Evolve Dance Complex). This is everything.
OK, yes, they had a disastrous loss to Germany last night, but we still heart Brazil! The host of the 2014 World Cup has had everyone—even non-fervent football fans—buzzing about soccer and its stars for the last few weeks. But while pages upon pages of internet space have been devoted to Brazilian soccer standouts recently, we'd like to take a moment to honor Brazilian ballet dancers.
Yes, Neymar and Hulk (I'm sorry, sidebar—the Brazilian soccer team has a player named "Hulk"?!) are talented and graceful and have amazing abs; they deserve all the attention they've been getting. But Brazil has also proved a breeding ground for truly great ballet stars—danseurs, especially—who are just as talented and even more graceful and also have fabulous abs.
Let's start with Marcelo Gomes, shall we? The American Ballet Theatre principal was born in Rio de Janeiro:
Photo by Mark Squires
Then there's Thiago Soares, who's also from Rio and is now a principal with the Royal Ballet:
Photo by Uspensky
Boston Ballet's Irlan Silva, another Rio native, starred in the documentary Only When I Dance:
Photo by Jean-Bernard Sieber
And the Joffrey Ballet is home to no fewer than three Brazilians: Elivelton das Gracas, Fernando Duarte, and the lovely Amanda Assucena:
(L to R) Elivelton das Gracas, Fernando Duarte, and Amanda Assucena (Agência Espetaculum/Divulgacao, via Chula Vista Ballet, Herbert Migdoll)
There must be something in the water down there. Vá Brasil!
NYC is bursting with promising ballet dancers this week, thanks to the Youth America Grand Prix finals held at Lincoln Center's Koch Theater. To all the competitors (at YAGP and beyond), we're shouting a big "Merde!!" your way.
We can't wait to see what amazing things these kids will do next. Don't believe us? Just take a look at these teens competing in the '90s and early '00s. They sure turned out (more than) OK.
Before she was New York City Ballet principal Sara Mearns, she was simply the amazingly talented 15-year-old Sara Mearns, competing at YAGP:
Recognize this guy? It's none other than the dreamiest of all American Ballet Theatre principals, Marcelo Gomes, competing at the Prix de Lausanne in 1996.
Here's international ballet superstar Alina Cojocaru at the Prix de Lausanne in 1997:
No surprises here: ABT soloist Sarah Lane's port de bras was just as glorious in 2002!
And San Francisco Ballet soloist Simone Messmer was just as regal at 16, competing at YAGP regional finals in 2001:
It's hard to imagine Diana Vishneva before she was a start of the Mariinsky Ballet and ABT. Nevertheless, here she is in 1994, competing at the Prix de Lausanne:
And finally, here's a special treat: Alex Wong in leopard booty shorts at the Prix de Lausanne in 2004. Go ahead, watch it sixteen times. We have.