Actually, it's 40 degrees and rainy here in NYC (womp). But the spring signifier that REALLY matters to me and my fellow bunheads is the kickoff of ballet season—and that happened last night, aka opening night at New York City Ballet.
Over the next couple of months, both NYCB and American Ballet Theatre will be performing at Lincoln Center. (For a few weeks they'll even be there simultaneously, right across the plaza from each other. Eee!) But every year the NYCBers get the ballet party started first—and do they ever know how to start a party.
NYCB's big glittery spring gala, the event that brings out A-list celebrities in their A-game finery, isn't until next Thursday. (This year's gala also includes a premiere by the wonderful Justin Peck—check back here next week for more on that.) And yet the theater last night was filled not only with amazing dancing, but also with some pretty amazing celebs.
Why, you ask? First of all, because ballet is the coolest. But also because last night's program included the premiere of French artist JR's first-ever dance work, which starred none other than jookin' sensation Lil Buck.
Lil Buck—no Photoshop required. (Photo via JR's Instagram)
Titled Les Bosquets, the piece brought together fantastic costumes (including a pretty amazing paper tutu), music by French music phenom Woodkid, and choreography—dreamed up by JR with an assist from NYCB artistic director Peter Martins—that had Lil Buck and NYCB soloist Lauren Lovette swimming in a surging sea of corps dancers. (The whole thing was inspired by JR's experiences during the 2005 Paris riots.)
Bows after the premiere of "Les Bosquets." THEY'RE WATCHING YOU! (photo via JR's Instagram)
The dance featured some fascinating moments, including the opening sequence, which had men carrying women as if they were guns. And in the audience cheering on the project were both the fabulous Janelle Monáe and—wait for it—Madonna. Madonna!
After recovering from starstruck shock, I realized that Lil Buck has danced for both divas. How great is it that they came out to support their friend? And both stayed for, and seemed to enjoy, the rest of the program, which included Alexei Ratmansky's incredible Namouna: A Grand Divertissement. Have Lil Buck and JR made ballet converts of them? Here's hoping.
Speaking of Lil Buck being awesome, did you see him over on Vogue.com yesterday? I'll leave you with their haunting video of him doing what he does best. And ballet peoples, if you're in or around New York, get yourself to Lincoln Center, STAT!
(From left) Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland (all photos by Erin Baiano)
Dance Spirit's 2019 Cover Model Search finalists: Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland! One of them will win a spot on Dance Spirit's Fall 2019 cover. Learn more about the dancers on their profile pages, and then vote for your favorite below. You can vote once a day now through July 15.
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Imagine attending American Ballet Theatre's prestigious NYC summer intensive, training among classical ballet legends. Imagine taking the stage at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals, competing against some of the country's best contemporary dancers. Now, imagine doing both—at the same time.
Welcome to Madison Brown's world. This summer, she's in her third year as a National Training Scholar with ABT, while also competing for NYCDA's Teen Outstanding Dancer title. (She's already won Outstanding Dancer in the Mini and Junior categories.) The logistics are complicated—ABT's five-week intensive overlaps with the weeklong NYCDA Nationals, which translates to a lot of cabs back and forth across Manhattan—but Maddie is committed to making the most of each opportunity. "I love contemporary and ballet equally," she says. "While I'm able to do both, I want to do as much as I can."
Maddie has an expressive face, endless extensions, and a quiet command of the stage. She dances with remarkable maturity—a trait noted by none other than Jennifer Lopez, one of the judges on NBC's "World of Dance," on which Maddie competed in Season 2. Although Maddie didn't take home the show's top prize, she was proud to be the youngest remaining soloist when she was eliminated, and saw the whole experience as an opportunity to grow. After all, she's just getting started. Oh, that's right—did we mention Maddie's only 14?
Corbin Bleu in rehearsal for "Kiss Me, Kate" (Jenny Anderson, courtesy Roundabout Theatre Company)
If you're a hardcore Broadway baby, today is the worst Sunday of the year. Why, you ask? The Tony Awards were last Sunday, so basically there's nothing to look forward to in life anymore—no James Corden being James Corden, no teary acceptance speeches from newly minted stars, no thrilling excerpts from the hottest new shows. Oh yeah, and there are 50 more Sundays to go before our humdrum lives are once again blessed with the next annual iteration of Broadway's biggest night.