The Many Moods of Mark Morris
Three cheers for Mark Morris! That's one cheer for each of the three pieces his company performed at the Brooklyn Academy of Music last night, all of which were characteristically thoughtful--and remarkably different.
The evening began with Behemoth, the only piece the musically-driven Morris has ever set in silence. If the downtown choreographers can do it, he seems to say, then I can too! The result is an introverted, slightly sinister work; its ever-shifting formations, propelled by the rhythms of the dancers' footfalls, often evoke some kind of giant industrial machine. In one especially inventive (and haunting) section, several dancers appear to be dragged along by the sweeping leg of a central "leader," only to be thrown to the ground when that leader slams down his foot.
I liked Morris in contrarian, music-free mode, but I have to admit that I was relieved when the second piece, Looky, opened with strains of Kyle Gann's (awesomely whacked-out) piano music. And yet Morris, who generally insists on live music, was messing with us again: When the lights came up, we saw that the sound was coming from a playerless piano--it was canned live music. Looky is good silly fun, a commentary on the way we entertain ourselves. Dancers in black-and-white pajamas mime walking through art galleries and sculpture gardens, going to the ballet, getting drunk at a party. The grand finale is a big vaudevillian ensemble number. "Look at us!" the dancers all but say. "Looky (get it?) here!"
After a brief intermission (during which I spotted hot couple Natalie Portman and Benjamin Millepied in the lobby!) came the highlight of the evening: Socrates, a world premiere set to music by Erik Satie. Socrates is Serious Morris; in my opinion it's on the level of his masterworks Gloria, L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato and Dido and Aeneas. The music's lyrics--excerpts from three of Plato's Dialogues--describe the arc of the Greek philosopher Socrates' life, ending with an account of his death. (Though the lyrics are sung in French, an English translation is projected above the dancers.) Morris' choreography is essentially abstract, and yet it often mirrors specific phrases in the lyrics. Socrates and his friend Phaedrus discuss a tree by the bank of the river Ilissus under which they plan to lie and rest; we see dancers become trees, standing upright with their arms over their heads, and then watch them lie down. It sounds corny, but it isn't; in fact, it's poetic. Though sophisticated in its style and movement patterns, Socrates has a peaceful, orderly rightness about it--it seems, as Morris' best works often do, simpler than it is.
Catch The Mark Morris Dance Group through Saturday, February 27 at the Howard Gilman Opera House, Brooklyn Academy of Music.
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.
The dancers who take our breath away are the risk-takers, the ones who appear completely fearless onstage. "When you see somebody trying to travel more, go farther, push the limits of their physical abilities, that's always going to be inspiring," says Ballet BC dancer Alexis Fletcher.
But dance training can feel like it's in conflict with that idea. We spend thousands of hours in the studio trying to do steps perfectly, and that pursuit of perfection can make us anxious about taking risks. What if we fail? What if we fall?
Luckily, fearlessness is a mental skill that you can work on, just as you work on your technique. Here's how you can learn to push yourself past your limits.
If you're in need of a piece that's both trendy and sophisticated, look no further than this Só Dança crop top. Featuring elegant long sleeves, a high neckline, and a delicate lace trim, it's both classic and contemporary—perfect for everything from that big audition to a long night in the studio. Enter below for your chance to win it!
Auditioning for summer intensives in person may be the ideal—but for Anna McDowell, a 16-year-old student at Juneau Dance Theatre in Juneau, AK, it's rarely possible. “Living in Alaska, it's difficult to travel to auditions," she says. “It gets way too expensive!" Instead, each year, with help from her teachers and a videographer, she puts together a well-crafted video and submits it to schools around the country. Last year, her high-quality video helped her earn acceptance to nearly every program she applied for. Most summer intensive programs, eager to attract students from far and wide, will accept video auditions from those who can't travel to take class. But major schools look at hundreds of submissions each year, which means video auditioners have just a few minutes—or even seconds—to make a great impression. If you're about to create an audition video, follow these tips from the professionals to put your best digital foot forward.
There are zillions of things to think about when choosing a summer program, but here's one you might not have considered: using an intensive as an opportunity to focus on a new style. Maybe you're a tap dancer who's ready to see where else your rhythm and quick feet can serve you, or a contemporary dancer curious about the more traditional roots of your genre. A summer program can be the perfect place to broaden your horizons, giving you the opportunity to make technical and artistic changes that stick throughout the year.
Happy birthday, George Balanchine! The great choreographer and founder of New York City Ballet would have been 114 years old today. Balanchine revolutionized ballet, especially American ballet—and he also had quite a way with words. To celebrate Mr. B's birthday, we rounded up some of our favorite iconic Balanchine quotes.
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.