That's So L.A. (Dance Project)
Not many dance companies get to perform at a palace—let alone the glamorous Palace of Versailles outside Paris, the former home of Marie Antoinette and ballet enthusiast King Louis XIV. But L.A. Dance Project isn't your average dance company. They like unique spaces, unexpected collaborations and performances with a twist. Last spring, LADP danced at Versailles with a special guest: Lil Buck, who twirled around the majestic grounds in a gold coat.
The performance—an edgy mix of contemporary dance, classical ballet and street styles at a one-of-a-kind location—perfectly represents the adventurous spirit that has been attracting new and younger audiences since LADP was founded in 2012. Other examples of their out-of-the-box thinking include a site-specific work with an experimental opera company at L.A.'s Union Station, partnerships with the Ace Hotel in downtown L.A. near the company's studios and vibrant, dramatic films on the fashion and culture site Nowness.
LADP in Justin Peck's Murder Ballades (Photo by Rose Eichenbaum, courtesy LADP)
From the beginning, LADP generated a lot of buzz, thanks to its ambitious vision and its big-name founding partners, including Benjamin Millepied, the former New York City Ballet principal and choreographer, and composers Nico Muhly and Nicholas Britell. But just a few months after LADP's first performance, Millepied was announced as the new artistic director of the Paris Opéra Ballet, a position he began this fall, leading everyone to wonder: Would he stay involved? And what would become of LADP?
To answer the first question: Absolutely. His initial mission was to build a strong administrative team—including James Fayette, the company's managing director. Fayette, also a former dancer with New York City Ballet, is part of a large family of former NYCB-ers that has relocated to L.A. to be part of Millepied's vision. Other members include Fayette's wife and former NYCB principal, Jenifer Ringer, who runs the affiliated Colburn Dance Academy; and another husband-and-wife pair, Sébastien Marcovici (now LADP's ballet master) and Janie Taylor, who designs some of the company's costumes and FOR LADP, a fashion collection inspired by LADP's chic onstage outfits.
Millepied also recruited Carla Körbes, the recently retired star of Pacific Northwest Ballet, as associate artistic director. Just two weeks after her last performance in Seattle, Körbes resettled in L.A., drawn to the LADP by its entrepreneurial spirit and impressive repertory. “It's really a 21st-century company," she says. “I've never seen a company like this before."
It's an exciting time for LADP: The group now boasts nine dancers, up from the original six. And Millepied frequently invites his dancers to be part of the creative process. “Benjamin has these amazing ideas and lets us help bring them to life," says Julia Eichten, a founding LADP dancer who's had several opportunities to choreograph. “To have that acknowledgment is amazing."
LADP is also eager to focus more energy on its hometown. “We've been touring and building rep over the last three years," Eichten says. “Now it feels like we can sink our toes in the sand a bit more in L.A." Part of that effort includes crossing paths with L.A.'s commercial-dance community. Eichten and fellow dancer Nathan Makolandra come from a competition background. Eichten is friendly with the Shaping Sound guys (she and Kyle Robinson attended Juilliard together); Makolandra has taught class at Edge Performing Arts Center, and a few of his solo creations have appeared on “So You Think You Can Dance."
Given these successful projects, an expanding team of new talent and more innovative performances ahead—like a collaboration with the avant-garde dance and visual art duo Gerard and Kelly—it's now easy to answer the question, “What will become of L.A. Dance Project?" The answer: It'll thrive.
The Colburn Connection
Several years ago, Benjamin Millepied invited Jenifer Ringer and James Fayette to envision a dance program for students ages 14 to 19. The result is the new Colburn Dance Academy in downtown L.A., designed to match the high standards of the Colburn School's famous music program. Its curriculum demands strong classical technique but also offers classes by top-notch commercial choreographers, like Galen Hooks. And the school takes advantage of its connection to L.A. Dance Project.
Each Saturday over the past year, in addition to rigorous daily training with some of the top ballet teachers in the world, the 13 students of the new academy took a contemporary dance class from then–L.A. Dance Project rehearsal director Charlie Hodges. Classes were held in the LADP studios, and Colburn Dance Academy students frequently observed company rehearsals, too. “We wanted to get them out of the ballet studio mind-set," says Ringer, the former New York City Ballet principal dancer who now heads the school with her husband, fellow former NYCB dancer and LADP managing director James Fayette.
In addition to classes at LADP, students frequently get the chance to visit neighboring institutions, like the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Walt Disney Concert Hall.
“We want dancers that are willing to throw themselves into other experiences, like going to the museum and taking music lessons," Ringer says. “Those experiences will give new layers to their dancing."
Happy "Step Up: High Water" eve, y'all! Everyone's favorite internet dance show makes its triumphant Season 2 return tomorrow, March 20th, on YouTube. In anticipation of the premiere, we turned to Kendra Oyesanya (Poppy), Marcus Mitchell (Dondre), and Carlito Olivero (Davis) for the scoop on all things "Step Up"—from on-set shenanigans, to embarrassing stories, to scenes to watch out for this season (hint: Episode 2's dance battle, and the season finale's final number!).
In today's dance world, versatility is key. It's not enough to be a master of one style—even when they specialize in one area, dancers are frequently asked to fuse multiple genres, or step out of their comfort zone for specific projects. With their wide variety of summer programs, Joffrey Ballet School aims to prepare dancers for the demands of a professional career. We asked five faculty members to share how they do this:
You may think you know Oklahoma!, the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein musical that made history when it first opened in 1943 and is best known for Agnes de Mille's groundbreaking dream ballet. But the latest Broadway iteration of the musical isn't your average trip to the frontier. Opening April 7, the revival features new choreography by Mark Morris alum John Heginbotham, and swaps the traditional windswept-prairie set and full orchestra for an intimate, minimalistic staging and a bluegrass band. Coming fresh off an acclaimed run at St. Ann's Warehouse in Brooklyn, the daring, unconventional production is sure to turn heads when it begins previews on Broadway tonight. Dance Spirit caught up with Heginbotham to get all the details on the dancing, and what it was like choreographing his first Broadway show.
K-pop is in the middle of a stateside takeover. South Korea's boy bands and girl groups can always be counted on to produce catchy, upbeat songs—and, most importantly for us dance fans, to feature colorful choreography prominently in their music videos. Over the past few years, the K-pop machine has been churning out a seemingly endless stream of talented groups with choreography worth watching on repeat, and some of them are starting to make names for themselves in the U.S. Check out our list of the dancetastic K-pop bands you need to know.
Have you ever felt that the Duels round on NBC's "World of Dance" was a bit unfair? During the Duels, each act's success hinges not on how objectively good they are, but on how good they are relative to a single challenger. Which means that mediocre acts can move forward if they best slightly-more-mediocre opponents, while frontrunners who're given tougher matchups end up knocked out.
Newly-engaged goddess J.Lo and her team get that. Which is why, last night, "WOD" introduced a twist designed to make the Duels more just: a redemption round. Formerly, five acts were eliminated in each division during the Duels. But from here out, the two highest scorers of those five will go head-to-head to earn a wild card spot. And that made last night's Upper Division Duels significantly more exciting.
Who just dueled it? Who was redeemed? Who made Derek Hough scream like a teenage girl? Onward to the episode highlights!
For professional ballet dancers, the search for the perfect pointe shoe is a lifelong quest. Even the smallest adjustment in manufacturing can make the difference between a shoe that allows a ballerina to soar and a shoe that detracts from her dancing. So what goes into creating the perfect fit? A lot of hard work, patience, and masterful attention to detail. We got the inside scoop on how a Bloch pointe shoe is made from beginning to end, and went inside one of American Ballet Theatre principal Devon Teuscher's touch-up fittings with Bloch owner David Fox in NYC.
It's the fall of 2018. As the Brigham Young University Cougarettes step onto the field at LaVell Edwards stadium in Provo, UT, a crowd of nearly 64 thousand erupts into cheers. The dancers take their places, and a feeling of anticipation hangs in the air: Their reputation precedes them.
The music—Ciara's banger "Level Up"—begins, and unbelievable precision ensues. Eighteen dancers attack the highly technical choreography, which nods at viral social-dance sensations and continuously builds in energy. The school's mascot, Cosmo the Cougar, joins the team on the field, and the audience goes wild. As the piece ends, the sound in the stadium is deafening. The 16-time national-title-winning group has proved once again why they're the standard for college dance team success—they're just that good.
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Dance moms: Where would we be without them? We all know how much support and help they give us—in addition to loads of love. Here are 10 reasons real-life dance moms are undeniably the best.
The extraordinary Paloma Garcia-Lee, who's danced in no fewer than five Broadway shows, can adapt to any choreographer's style. And before heading back to Broadway this spring in Moulin Rouge! (choreographed by Sonya Tayeh), she's tackling the work of one of the most iconic choreographers of all time: Bob Fosse.
Garcia-Lee plays Adrienne in the new FX limited series "Fosse/Verdon," premiering April 9, which follows the romantic and creative relationship of Fosse (Sam Rockwell) and his muse Gwen Verdon (Michelle Williams). Hamilton's Lin-Manuel Miranda, Thomas Kail, Steve Levenson, and Andy Blankenbuehler serve as executive producers, with Kail directing and Blankenbuehler choreographing.
With the exception of performing on The Tony Awards, "Fosse/Verdon" marks Garcia-Lee's TV debut. "I'm really setting my sights on more on-camera work," she says. "Getting the chance to flex my muscles as an actress in this different medium, but still have the dance part, is all really exciting." (She's got real acting chops, too: While a student at the North Carolina School of the Arts, she actually quit dance briefly to study acting instead.)
Dance Spirit spoke to Garcia-Lee about "Fosse/Verdon"'s epic final callback, how she got cast, and the transition from stage to screen.
Miami City Ballet principal Jeanette Delgado's dynamic, show-stopping presence and powerful, crisp technique have been wowing audiences for well over a decade. A Miami, FL, native, Delgado began training with Vivian Tobio, Liana Navarro, and Maria Victoria Gutierrez. At age 9, she received a scholarship to Miami City Ballet School and, in 2003, she earned the Princess Grace Award. That same year, Delgado became an apprentice with Miami City Ballet. In 2004 she was promoted to the corps, and in 2006 to soloist. She became a principal dancer in 2008. Catch her this month performing in the company's spring program. —Courtney Bowers