Brigid Pierce, courtesy MGDC

The signature cupped hands of the celebrants in Primitive Mysteries; the clawed hands of Medea in Cave of the Heart—“Graham hands" are unmistakable and create next-level drama. Each thrust or flick enhances Graham's larger-than-life characters. “Martha marveled over the possibilities of the hands," says Terese Capucilli, a former Martha Graham Dance Company principal dancer who trained with Graham, and was co-artistic director of the company from 2002–05. “She used hands as an extension of the expression that inhabits the body. It's a magnification of the energy that's projected from the center."

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There are zillions of makeup goodies out there, and just as many ways to wear them. Rather than spending the rest of your life trying to find that perfect black eyeliner pen, take a cue from these pros, who have streamlined their prep routines to get the job done night after night.

The Pros

Megan Levinson, Radio City Rockette

Lloyd Knight, Martha Graham Dance Company principal

Jenny Driebe, Cirque du Soleil's Michael Jackson ONE dancer

Madison Keesler, English National Ballet first artist

 

 

Megan prepping her Rockettes look (photo by Rana Faure/MSG Photos, courtesy MSG Entertainment)

Megan Levinson's Routine

“I start by blending liquid foundation on my entire face, and then use concealer under my eyes. Next I apply eye shadow primer on my eyelids and let it dry as I fill in my eyebrows. I mix eye shadows, and always make sure to define the crease of my lid with a dark brown. Then I put on mascara and false lashes. Once my eyes are done, I set my face with powder foundation and apply blush. Finally, and most importantly, I finish off my makeup with the famous Radio City Rockette red lip!”

Megan’s Pro Tip

“The Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes is 90 minutes of non-stop action with athletic choreography and quick changes, so we need our makeup to stay in place,” she says. “I always apply Sealed With a Kiss lip seal by Cosmetically Sealed over my lipstick to keep it looking perfect during the whole show. Also, eye shadow primer is life-changing!”

A Few of Megan’s Go-To Products

•Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion and Eyeshadow Palette in Naked

•MAC Russian Red lipstick

(“It’s the iconic Rockette color!”) and blush in Mocha

•Ardell false eyelashes

 

Lloyd Knight's Routine

“I begin by moisturizing my face and applying foundation. Then

I move on to eye makeup: first shadow, then liner and then mascara.

Lloyd Knight with his makeup spread (photo by Brigid Pierce, courtesy MGDC)

Depending on what I’m dancing, I like to change up the colors or the boldness of the lines. After my eyes are done, I contour my cheekbones and jawline, apply lipstick to seal the deal and hit the stage!”

Lloyd's Pro Tip

“It’s always best to go out into the house to see how much makeup you think you might need,” he advises. “Determine how far away the audience will be sitting, and try to see what someone else’s stage makeup looks like from the house. You don’t want to overdo it, or wear too little.”

A Few of Lloyd's Go-To Products

•Make Up For Ever foundation in 180=R530 Brown (“It matches my skin color perfectly!”) and black Graphic Liner Pen (“It makes for a really clean and sharp look.”)

•Sephora eye shadow in Colorful Sandcastle and Colorful Diamonds Are Forever, and Waterproof Contour Eye Pencils in White, Cocoa and Black

 

Jenny Driebe's Routine

“Each dancer in Michael Jackson ONE has a specific look created by the amazing makeup artists at Cirque du Soleil. I always begin with a primer base and then apply silver cream

Jenny Driebe in her finished look (courtesy Jenny Driebe)

by Make Up For Ever to my lids, brow arch and inner eye. I draw a pink line from the inner corner of my eyebrow down my nose, blend it out over my eye, and blend blue into the outer corner to create a smoky look. Then I apply foundation; contour and blend; set it with translucent powder; brush the excess powder away; and repeat everything with powder eye shadow, contour and blush. I line my eyelids and fill in my brows. Finally, I add glue and silver glitter to my eyelid, and the unique rhinestone appliqué

I wear goes on my cheek.”

Jenny's Pro Tip

“This was taught to me by one of the awesome makeup artists from Cirque du Soleil: For a 3-D lip look, apply lip liner and lipstick as usual, using a brush to blend them together. With a thinner brush, apply a line of cream highlight around your lips. Use powder to set it, and voilà! Beautiful 3-D lips that really pop!”

A Few of Jenny's Go-To Products

•Make Up For Ever Star Powder (“It highlights with shimmer.”)

•MAC Bone Beige Sculpting Powder (“to enhance bone structure”) and False Lashes mascara

 

Madison Keesler's Routine

“I always start with face primer and then do my brows. I follow with foundation, concealer and contouring. Then I powder my face with setting powder and ‘bake’ my T-zone. Baking is when you leave excess powder on your face for a few extra minutes before gently

Madison Keesler in full stage makeup (courtesy Madison Keesler)

brushing away the excess—this step is key! Then I prime my eyelids, use different eye shadow colors to define the crease, and use liquid liner on the top and bottom lids. I finish with mascara and lipstick, and any extra blush, highlighting or contouring.”

Madison's Pro Tip

“Choosing a lipstick color is very important because it can really change the overall look of your makeup. Also, to get the best brows, do them first! I do brows right after primer because it helps the brow product stick.”

A Few of Madison's Go-To Products

•Tarte Clean Slate primer in Poreless

•Cover FX contour kit in P Light Medium

•Laura Mercier Loose Setting Powder in Translucent

Dancers are some of the greatest photographic subjects around (for obvious reasons). They know their bodies, how to pose and captivate audiences—all of which translate into consistently stunning images. But Nir Arieli's photo series, "Flocks," showcases some of our favorite dance companies in a completely new context: without motion.

Arieli has been photographing a number of world-class companies for two years. The dancers are posed in motionless formations that, while aren't showing any movement, are still 100% dancey—not to mention stunning. Arieli told Slate that he wanted to show "what happens after the movement is over or when the movement is drained from the body. You get an intimate moment about this special group of people who spend so much time together...They’re very physical with each other...there are very interesting relationships formed with these people, and I hope this project is speaking about that in a visual way.” Below are some of our favorites, but be sure to check out the entire feature here!

(Now-disbanded) Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet (Photo by Nir Arieli, via Slate)

The Martha Graham Dance Company. (Photo by Nir Arieli, via Slate)

Ailey II members. (Photo by Nir Arieli, via Slate)

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If there's one word to describe the Martha Graham Dance Company, it's iconic. From the trademark "Graham" cupped hands to the powerful movements making up her choreo, Martha Graham knew a thing or two about statements. So it's no surprise that she was as tuned into fashion as she was dance. Vogue took it a step further and decided to delve into the fashion-forward world of Graham costumes over the 90 (!) years the company has been performing. Turns out, lots of designers seem to have been influenced by the beautiful pieces worn by MGDC dancers. Below are some of our favorites, and be sure to check out the entire article (and remaining pictures!).

Vionnet's Spring 2016 show (left) and Graham (right). (Photos via Vogue)

Proenza Schouler (left) and Graham in performance (right). (Photos via Vogue)

 

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The Martha Graham Dance Company turns 90—NINETY—this year. Like most things that have survived for the better part of a century, it has an incredibly rich history. Unlike most 90-year-olds, though, it still knows how to throw a heck of a birthday party.

What does a Graham-style anniversary celebration look like? Well, it kicked off last Thursday at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, where MGDC is performing a series of programs that include Graham classics commissioned by the Library (Appalachian Spring and Cave of the Heart among them) and a brand-new work by edgy Swedish choreographer Pontus Lidberg. And it'll continue later in April, during the MGDC's NYC season. (Fun fact: April 18, the day Lidberg's work will have its NYC premiere, is the exact day when, 90 years ago, Graham mounted her first concert in the Big Apple.)

In a way, Lidberg's creation, Woodland, follows in the MGDC tradition: Like many Graham works, it's a) set to a score by a mid-century composer (Irving Fine) and b) co-commissioned by the Library of Congress. But based on the glimpses of the piece that we get in a new behind-the-scenes film by Ezra Hurwitz, Lidberg is taking the Graham dancers in some interesting new directions, too. And it's thrilling to watch these fantastic artists explore a different side of their artistry. We're used to seeing them like this...

...but Lidberg shows them to us like THIS:

Watch the full video, which includes great interviews with Lidberg and MGDC artistic director Janet Eilber, below. And if you're in D.C. or NYC, get your tickets to the 90th anniversary season now. Because the only way to really experience the power of Graham is to see the Graham company live.

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Ross Katen auditioned for the Limón Dance Company on his 21st birthday, just after graduating from the BFA dance program at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. Limón, he knew, was an unusual choice for a recent NYU alum. “I’d been focused on creating new work in a pretty progressive conservatory program,” he remembers, “and this was a company performing dances that had been in repertory since the 1940s.” But after the audition and a weeklong workshop, he felt excited about the challenges of the dramatic Limón style—and he earned a contract with LDC.

For many young dancers, the performance dream centers on contemporary companies. And for good reason: Getting to perform new works and be involved in the creative process is pretty darn exciting. But dancers are also finding fulfillment in time-honored repertory groups like LDC, Paul Taylor Dance Company and the Martha Graham Dance Company—companies that were established long before they (and, in some cases, their parents) were born.

Why join a company grounded in the past? For one, Katen says, the work still resonates. Though LDC was established in 1946, “there are so many intricacies to explore within the repertory,” he says. “You can still find new ideas to play off of in historical pieces.” That quality, he says, is what’s allowed those works to stick around.

(From left) Ho, Katen and O'Donnell strike a pose (photo by Jayme Thornton)

Today, LDC primarily presents pieces by Limón himself—just as the MGDC repertory is mostly Graham, and the PTDC rep is nearly 100 percent Taylor. That means dancers get

a chance to dig deep into a single vocabulary, exploring the nuances of its technique through a wide variety of rep. “I love the diversity of Paul Taylor’s work,” says Madelyn Ho, who recently joined PTDC after spending four years in the company’s apprentice/

touring group, Taylor 2. “There are some really dark, ugly pieces that let me draw on my intense side, and there are happier dances, too. Having the opportunity to experience that range—and all by one choreographer—really pulls me in.”

Anne O’Donnell, who joined the 90-year-old MGDC as an apprentice

in 2014, agrees. “Working in one style so intensely is gratifying,” she says. Classic techniques like Graham are also a great foundation to build a career on, because “so many choreographers have come out of the traditions of these modern dance pioneers,” O’Donnell says.

Because their names are well known throughout the world, classic modern companies tend to tour frequently, too. MGDC tours internationally several months out of the year; PTDC travels 16 weeks each year. O’Donnell loves that her job lets her see the world. “Touring has been one of the biggest blessings,” she says. “One of my proudest career moments was going to Sweden with MGDC to learn a new work by Mats Ek. It was surreal.”

Now is an especially good time for younger dancers to look into older companies. In the past, heritage modern groups have struggled with funding, which has sometimes meant limited seasons. But recently, there’s been an exciting wave of revitalization. Last October, to celebrate Limón’s 70th anniversary, companies from around the globe gathered at The Joyce Theater in NYC to perform a wide variety of Limón’s work. MGDC has commissioned work from contemporary choreographers, including Kyle Abraham, Sonya Tayeh, Nacho Duato and Andonis Foniadakis.  And last year, Paul Taylor—who continues to create new pieces—broadened his troupe’s scope by creating Paul Taylor’s American Modern Dance, a presenting organization that showcases guest companies and outside choreographers. (PTDC also presents a jam-packed month-long season at Lincoln Center each year.)

Above all, joining a classic modern company offers young dancers a chance to participate in a revered, time-honored tradition. “You feel like you’re part of a bigger history,” Ho says. “When you put on a Taylor costume, you know there have been all these dancers who’ve worn the same one before you. It’s a pretty amazing feeling.”

 

(photo by Jayme Thornton)

Madelyn Ho, Paul Taylor Dance Company

What she loves about Paul Taylor's work: "Connecting with people onstage. You get to make eye contact and be a human instead of a 'performer.' "

Advice for DS readers: "Think about how to dance with others. When I was younger, I lacked spatial awareness and was too focused on technique."

Number-one PTDC audition tip: "Taylor's auditions start out with just walking across the floor alone. It's terrifying. But don't let it psych you out. They just want to see you being yourself."

 

(photo by Jayme Thornton)

Ross Katen, Limón Dance Company

What he loves about Limón's work: "Limón was a master of theatricality, but he has such a huge range. For example, The Winged is totally abstract. There's also a certain morbidity to much of his work that I find fascinating."

Advice for DS readers: "Remember that dance is subjective. It's dependent on who's viewing it, and on which day, and where. That's good, though: As a dancer, it's important to be open to different opinions."

Number-one Limón audition tip: "Rhythm is one of the most important elements of Limón technique and choreography. You have to be a musical dancer."

 

(photo by Jayme Thornton)

Anne O'Donnell, Martha Graham Dance Company

What she loves about Martha Graham's work: "It's so honest, so true. It shows off the body and makes you a powerful performer."

Advice for DS readers: "Know that hard work does pay off. Dance isn't an easy career; at some point you'll question why you're doing what you're doing. But believe in yourself—and be kind."

Number-one Graham audition tip: "Know the foundation of the technique, and look the part. Wear skin-tight clothing that shows off your body and your contraction. Show your knowledge of the company."

 

Videos

Get an inside look at our cover shoot with three inspiring young pros upholding classic modern dance traditions.

Clive Barnes was, in a word, awesome.

A longtime dance and theater critic, who wrote for the New York Times, the New York Post and our sister publication, Dance Magazine, he enthusiastically and perceptively documented an era when luminaries including George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, Merce Cunningham and Paul Taylor were at the height of their creative powers.

Clive Barnes in 1976 (photo New York Times)

Today, the Clive Barnes Foundation gives out annual monetary awards to artists in the theater and dance world. This year's nominees have just been announced. On the dance side, we have Talli Jackson of the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, Lloyd Mayer and Xiaochuan Xie of the Martha Graham Dance Company and Calvin Royal III of American Ballet Theatre.

Beautiful Xiaochuan Xie photographed by Sibté Hassan for DS

That's pretty great company to be in, too: Past dance winners include NYCB's Lauren Lovette and Chase Finlay and ABT's Isabella Boylston.

Congrats all! This year's winners will be announced on January 6—we'll keep you posted.

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