Choreographer Amy Seiwert Shares What Inspires Her
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."
The news is out, and we couldn't be more excited: Olympic figure skater/performer of gorgeous Benji Schwimmer choreography/patron saint of sequins/all-around fabulous human Adam Rippon will appear on the upcoming athletes-only "Dancing with the Stars" cycle! Even better, he's been paired with one of our fave pros, Jenna Johnson—the ultimate #dreamteam.
Our Rippon obsession is so real. And that means that in the days since the "DWTS" cast announcement, our minds have been busy imagining all the routines we know Adam and Jenna could slay. Here are 5 numbers that'd totally impress the judges. ("DWTS" producers: You're welcome.)
A Jive to "Stitches" by Shawn Mendes, Ideally with a Cameo by Shawn Mendes
We already know that Rippon has his eye on the adorable singer (whom he met for the first time at the Oscars, as one does)—so why not play matchmaker, "DWTS" producers? We're picturing Rippon in hospital gear with Johnson as his ER doc ("stitches," see what we did there?), and if Mendes wants to show up dressed as a nurse for a jiving trio, we're 1000 percent here for it!
A Broadway Jazz Number to "Carrying the Banner" from "Newsies"
Adam and Broadway go together like Ultra Clutch hairspray and comp kids: It's a perfect pairing. And how cute would he be in a newsboy cap? If Rippon he can pull out a bunch of fouettés on a pape like Ryan Steele (see above)—which, given that fouettés are a distant cousin of skating's scratch spin, seems likely—even better.
A Gorgeous "Greatest Showman"-Themed Waltz—Trapeze Optional
Rippon as Zac Efron and and Johnson as Zendaya, waltzing along to "Rewrite the Stars"? YES. And maybe, just maybe, some aerial acrobatics? YAAAAAS.
A Heartbreaking Travis Wall Contemporary Piece to a Sam Smith Ballad
Adam's worked with Travis. Jenna's worked with Travis. You KNOW this combination would be on point. Add a painfully gorgeous song like Sam Smith's "Too Good at Goodbyes" to the mix, and you're bound to have the judges ugly-face crying.
A "DWTS" Version of #Beychella
Based on his Spotify playlist, it's clear that Rippon's part of the #Beyhive (same). So a Beyoncé-themed number is, obviously, a necessity. "Love on Top?" "Run the World?" "Flawless?" We honestly don't care which song he and Johnson choose, as long as Rippon gets to go full #Beychella in his own bedazzled yellow sweatshirt and knee-high fringe boots.
Showstopper has been making its impact on the dance world since 1978. Before then, dancers didn't have a stage to perform on, the opportunity to learn from peers, or a competitive outlet like most sports. Debbie Roberts recognized this missing piece in the dance community and that is how America's first and longest running dance competition, Showstopper, was born. Debbie taught dance for over 26 years and owned and operated her own dance studio for 20 years. She is now the owner and National Director of Showstopper, along side her husband, Dave Roberts. Dancer, teacher, business owner, author, and mother, Debbie has made dance her life's career.
Sometimes, you hear talk about an upcoming class video and it sounds too good to be real. Wait: Todrick Hall made a track featuring RuPaul, and then Todrick personally asked Brian Friedman to choreograph it, and then Brian got Maddie and Charlize and Jade and Kaycee and Sean and Gabe and Larsen and Bailey to come out for the class? I just...that can't be right. Can it?
It is right, friends. It is SO RIGHT.
Team USA is totally taking over "Dancing with the Stars" this season! Casting for the upcoming athletes-only "DWTS" cycle, which kicks off April 30, was just announced. And the roster includes a whole bunch of Olympic favorites—including not one, not two, but three figure-skating standouts.
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's Fana Tesfagiorgis captivates audiences with her ethereal grace and powerful, commanding technique. A Madison, WI, native, she began training in ballet at Ballet Madison at age 5, and also studied at Interlochen Arts Academy during high school. Later, she graduated from the Ailey/Fordham program with a BFA in dance and a minor in journalism, and danced with companies including Ailey II, Continuum, Footprints, and Nimbus Dance Works. She joined AAADT in 2013. Catch her dancing with the company June 13–17 during its Lincoln Center season. —Courtney Bowers
Winter is drawing to a close and you know what that means -- It's time to really kick this year into gear! Move U has done the research so you can find your best match, look good, and feel great this season with a twist unique to your team! Here are five looks to put your performance on the map in 2018.
With several Shaping Sound tours and TV credits like "So You Think You Can Dance," "Dancing with the Stars," and "Boardwalk Empire" to her name, you wouldn't expect Kate Harpootlian to be refreshingly down-to-earth. But that's exactly how she is: As soon as you start talking to the gifted dancer and choreographer, it becomes clear that she doesn't take herself too seriously. And she's happy to tell hilarious stories to prove it. (Ask her about the time she did a Mr. Peanut impression when Mia Michaels asked her to improvise, or the time she starred in a Japanese makeup commercial and had to do grand pliés wearing one pointe shoe and one flat shoe.)
That mixture of humor and grace is evident in Harpootlian's growing body of choreographic work. Her one-act show Better Late Than Never, for example, which premiered last summer, has a jazzy, West Side Story vibe, offsetting heavier moments with touches of whimsy. "There's always a balance in my work," Harpootlian says. "I want to use humor to balance out the darker aspects. It's like one of my friends once said: 'You make me laugh, and then you make me feel bad for laughing.' "
Ah, the quest for the perfect, foot-flattering, technique-enhancing pointe shoe: It can feel like a never-ending saga. Still on the hunt for that ideal pair? Then you won't want to miss The School at Steps' annual Pointe Shoe Workshop and Fair, happening this Sunday, April 22nd, at 6:30 pm in NYC.
Sometimes something as simple as a new dance outfit can help you take your dancing from drab to fab. Soffe's new light weight dance tee and metallic leggings might be just the thing to give you the confidence to kill it at on the dance floor. Enter below for a chance to spice up your dance wardrobe!