Last night, a verrrry impressive group of dance-world celebrities gathered at NYC's Ailey Citigroup Theater for the Dance Magazine Awards, honoring Patricia Wilde, Mats Ek, Yuan Yuan Tan, Philip Glass and Martha Clarke. The DM Awards are always pretty extraordinary, and this year was no exception. Here are our top five highlights from the star-studded night.
5) Patricia Wilde's acceptance speech. Wilde, a longtime New York City Ballet dancer and former artistic director of Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, told the kinds of stories that make our ballet-nerd hearts incredibly happy—like that time Salvador Dali made her a very unusual headpiece (whoa!), and that time George Balanchine mentioned a new section of choreography she had yet to learn 30 minutes before she went onstage (eek!). It was a fabulous lesson in ballet history, as lived by one of the greats.
4) Mats Ek's tribute video. Two words: Sylvie Guillem. The selection of clips featured a fantastic group of women—including Ek's wife, Ana Laguna— performing the choreographer's tender, funny works. But it was Guillem, that crazy queen of the ballerinas, who made the most lasting impression—especially in an excerpt from Ek's Smoke. Here's a longer clip of Gullem in the piece:
3) Yuan Yuan Tan in After the Rain. Two of the most memorable works featured last night were set to the same piece of music, Arvo Pärt's Spiegel im Speigel—not a coincidence, really, given how beautiful and dreamy and all-around amazing it is. One of our favorite dance videos of all time is Tan and fellow San Francisco Ballet principal Damian Smith performing After the Rain, Christopher Wheeldon's perfect take on the Pärt piece, at sunset at the 2010 Fire Island Dance Festival. Wheeldon presented Tan's award last night, and it seemed only fitting that that gorgeous After the Rain clip was the highlight of her tribute video. Here's the whole thing:
2) Alessandra Ferri and Herman Cornejo performing part of Martha Clarke's Chéri. Man, it was such a ballet paradise last night! To honor Clarke, ballet stars Ferri and Cornejo showed us an excerpt from Clarke's new dance-theater work, Chéri, which opened Sunday night. And oh goodness, talk about chemistry. You could feel the heat radiating from these two glorious dancers during their steamy bedroom pas de deux.
1) Philip Glass's acceptance speech. OK, pretty much everyone in the audience was trying to hold back squeals from the moment Glass took the stage. He's such a legend, and his amazing music has given dance and dancers so much. But then Glass proceeded to talk about how much dance has given him, and we all just melted. In case you need a little reminder of how perfectly Glass and dance go together, here's Les Ballets de Monte Carlo performing the last section of Twyla Tharp's In the Upper Room:
Congratulations to all the awardees! We've got a slideshow of photos from the ceremony (all by Christopher Duggan) below, and click here for video highlights from the evening.
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I'm sure you guys know about Jiří Kylián—the Czech choreographer who has almost single-handedly defined contemporary dance, and whose work is Nederlands Dans Theater's calling card. But do you know about Mats Ek?
Ek is a Swedish choreographer and the former director of the Cullberg Ballet (that home of all things REALLY weird). He's known for some of his masterpieces, like 2000's Apartment, as well as his adaptations of classical ballets like Giselle and Swan Lake (not to mention his iconic artistic partnership with Sylvie Guillem). Let's just say that when he's done with them, the ballets look absolutely nothing like what you'd expect.
Hubbard Street Dance Chicago's Jessica Tong and Jacqueline Burnett in Mats Ek's Casi-Casa (photo by Todd Rosenberg)
Thanks to the new documentary The Choreographer Mats Ek, you can get inside Ek's mind as he creates work. It's available to rent on Vimeo, and it provides some insight into a process that can seem hopelessly enigmatic. And now that there's also a new-ish documentary about Kylián, you can give yourself an education in contemporary European choreographers! Dance #nerdz rejoice!