Blogs

On Monday and Tuesday, I was lucky enough to film two rehearsals for Avi Scher & Dancers, a company headed by Avi Scher, an emerging young choreographer in New York City. I was especially excited because I would be filming Sara Mearns (a principal at NYCB) and Marcelo Gomes (a principal at ABT) rehearsing together for Utopia Variations, as well as Christian Tworzyanski, who’s in the corps at NYCB and Abi Stafford, who is a principal there, dancing in Inner Voice.

Like most dancers I know, I can’t stand watching myself on film. Really, I’m that slow? It’s not that I dance behind the music, but I never look quite sharp enough. Innately smooth, lyrical and calm, my natural movement quality works all right in adagio choreography, but if you ask me to “hit” a position I’ll probably “lightly tap on” it and then flow through to the next step.

But recently I’ve noticed this weakness improving. Surprisingly, it’s not due to more petite allegro; it’s because of hip hop. 

The first time I saw William Forsythe’s choreography I hated it. Passionately.

I’d just started at NYU and our choreography class was required to see Ballett Frankfurt out in Brooklyn. Unfortunately, my parents happened to be in town that weekend. But I brought them along, assuming anything called “ballet” would be safe.

It seems like ballet dancers have been popping up in all kinds of fashion spreads these days! First we noticed a few of ABT's most beautiful men in the February issue of Elle magazine, lounging at the ABT studios with model Nataša Vojnović (and some JKO School students). Then New York City Ballet soloist Ellen Bar appeared in a gorgeous gown in J. Crew's March catalogue.

This week, I was lucky enough to be able to take a class taught by Susan Jaffe, a former principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre.  I wasn’t really sure what to expect, since I’ve taken class with famous dancers before, and been very disappointed by how little of their own sense of artistry they communicated to the students.  Sometimes, although they are or were great dancers themselves, they were at a loss about how to really teach a student to do something that came so naturally, and beautifully, to them.

 

Have you ever had a moment of epiphany while watching a dance group perform--a realization that if you were a professional dancer, you'd want to make that company your home? Because that's exactly what happened to me last night at The Joyce Theater. As I witnessed the awesomely versatile members of the Lyon Opera Ballet tackle three wildly different stylistic worlds--those of Merce Cunningham, William Forsythe, and Maguy Marin--I couldn't help but think, I wish I were up there with them.

The other day, I was talking with my favorite teacher, Marisa, about a video of Suzanne Farrell that I have.  We both agreed that although she may not have been the most perfect technician compared to today’s powerhouse dancers, she had something that is very rare: an innate understanding and response to music.  Even on video, you can tell that she internalizes each musical phrase she dances to, so that she’s almost dancing in the music instead of to the music.

When you dance, do you do the movement, explore it or listen to how your body wants to perform it?

This weekend I took a workshop with Nathan Trice, a former Complexions, MOMIX and Donald Byrd dancer who now runs his own troupe. His movement style is kind of a modern dance-based version of contemporary ballet; it's slinky and line-driven, but much of the choreography is actively turned in. My body loved the it's amazing flow and kookiness. Yet the process by how Trice wanted us to move was incredibly challenging for me.

I’ve never been a very patient person or dancer, and this has always been reflected in the kinds of classes I like to take.  I prefer a pretty fast class in which the barre just flies by so that I can get to center and really dance.  I love petit allegro, too—the faster, the better, and since I hate doing adagio, I prefer to get it over with quickly.  I enjoy a speedy and difficult class, and when I’m enjoying myself, I feel better about my dancing.  However, I’ve recently started taking a slower class twice a week, and

As dancers, we thrive on that ability to transcend the normal and become someone (or something) else on stage.  It places us among the lucky few people who have the opportunity to experience that intangible freedom of another world.