Choreographer Amy Seiwert Shares What Inspires Her
Amy Seiwert rehearsing Wandering with Ben Needham-Wood (photo by David Desilva, courtesy Amy Seiwert)
Amy Seiwert is an important voice for contemporary ballet. Since 1999, her company Amy Seiwert's Imagery has been showing San Francisco audiences just how experimental, passionate, and relevant ballet can be. It's a philosophy Seiwert developed over 19 years dancing with the LA Chamber Ballet, Sacramento Ballet, and Smuin Ballet, and while choreographing on major companies like New York City Ballet (for the New York Choreographic Institute). Next year, Seiwert will become the artistic director of Sacramento Ballet. Catch AXIS Dance Company performing Seiwert's Reflective Surface in October in Oakland, CA—and read on to learn how Seiwert keeps thinking of new ways to look at ballet. —Helen Rolfe
For seven years now, I've worked with my company in a space called Zaccho that's primarily used for aerial dance, so it's got high ceilings, natural light, and enough space that you can be far enough from the dancers to get a sense of the work. There's a fun rumor that the building used to be a mattress factory, and that the Zaccho space is where they made the pillows! It's one of my favorite places to create in the city.
(From top, left to right) Steffi Cheong, Brett Conway, Seiwart, and director Brian Staufenbiel in rehearsal for "Les Enfants Terribles" (photo by Nick Korkos, courtesy Seiwart)
Last May, I choreographed Philip Glass' opera Les Enfants Terribles with the company Opera Parallèle here in San Francisco, where I was lucky to work with a phenomenal dancer I've known a long time, Brett Conway. I first worked with Brett when he was about 18, before he danced for LINES Ballet and Nederlands Dans Theater. He has developed beautifully into a thinking artist.
Conway and Cheong in "Les Enfants Terribles" (photo by Steve Dibartolomeo, courtesy Opera Parallele)
My husband plays the trumpet professionally. He's exposed me to a lot of music that I never knew, like the experimental composer Morton Feldman, and minimalist composers like Terry Riley.
Seiwert takes in the view on a hike (courtesy Seiwert)
I love nature and being outside. Last summer, I would go for 7-mile hikes in the Sierras while listening to the music for my first full-length work, Wandering, on repeat. The piece was to Franz Schubert's Winterreise, gorgeous leider music that explores loss. I fell in love with that kind of music a couple years ago, via fellow choreographer KT Nelson. When I'm staring at redwoods or looking at the ocean, I feel very connected to the earth, to humanity, to everything.
"Wandering" rehearsal (photo by David Desilva, courtesy Seiwert)
A version of this story appeared in the September 2017 issue of Dance Spirit with the title "Choreographer's Collage: Amy Seiwert."
School of American Ballet students (Rosalie O'Connor, courtesy SAB)
Do you have a "Strictly Ballet"–sized hole in your heart? Good news: The upcoming docuseries "On Pointe" just might fill it.
The School of American Ballet is teaming up with Imagine Documentaries and DCTV for the project. Though it's not yet clear where "On Pointe" will air, we do know that it'll follow talented SAB students preparing for professional ballet careers—much as Teen Vogue's popular "Strictly Ballet" web series did back in the day. But "On Pointe" marks the first time documentary filmmakers have been allowed access to the school, and it sounds like it'll paint an even more complete picture of the dancers' lives inside and outside the studio.
Choreographer Bob Fosse's signature style—with its jazz hands, inverted knees, and slouched shoulders—is still a huge influence in the dance world (and, thanks to the gloriously dancyFX series "Fosse/Verdon," the TV world). But while you know to expect plenty of Fosse-isms during a stage performance of Chicago or Sweet Charity, Fosse's legacy has also seeped into pop music culture, inspiring the likes of Beyoncé and Lady Gaga. Here are just six of the many music videos that reference Fosse's iconic works.
Gabrielle Hamilton in John Heginbotham's dream ballet from Oklahoma! Photo by Little Fang Photo, courtesy DKC/O&M
Last night, longtime theater legends (including Chita Rivera herself!) as well as rising stars gathered to celebrate one of Broadway's danciest events: the third annual Chita Rivera Awards.
The evening paid tribute to this season's dancer standouts, extraordinary ensembles, and jaw-dropping choreography—on- and off-Broadway and on film.
As usual, several Dance Spirit faves made it into the mix. (With such a fabulous talent pool of nominees to choose from, we're glad that ties were allowed.) Here are the highlights from the winner's list: