Sunday, December 28, 2008

"The Nutcracker" Quiz

I'm in Dallas, TX right now and will be line dancing at Billy Bobs, the world's largest honky tonk, this New Years Eve. I hope you all will be dancing into the new year as well.

Since I'm still on vacation, I thought a little holiday dance quiz could be fun. So see if you can answer the following questions and look for the answers at the bottom of the post.

1) Who do contemporary historians consider the first choreographer of "The Nutcracker"?

2) What other name is given to Clara in some Nutcracker performances?

3) "The Nutcracker" negatively was compared to which ballet score by Tchaikovsky? 

4) When and where was "The Nutcracker" first performed?

5) What is considered the most popular alternative version of "The Nutcracker"?





Here you go: 

1) Marius Petipa--a ballet dancer, teacher and choreographer of more than 50 ballets. However, it is debated whether Lev Ivanov choreographed "The Nutcracker" with Petipa's counsel.

2) Marie. The author of "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King" (a morbid story never intended for children), E.T.A. Hoffmann, named the leading lady of his story Marie, while the name of one of her dolls was Clara. 

3) Sleeping Beauty--he called "The Nutcracker's" music "infinitely poorer" than this ballet he composed in 1890.  

4) December 1892 in St. Petersburg, Russia

5) Mark Morris' "The Hard Nut," which sets the story based on horror-comic artist Charles Burns and premiered in January 1991. 

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

What Its Like to Be a Male Dancer in 2008

Happy Holidays Everyone!

I've been away lately, moving back home to DC after finishing graduate school in Boston. But, I'm back and want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and wonderful holiday season. 

Today, I came across a  interview with three Mark Morris male dancers who describe their experiences of growing up and choosing a career in dance. All dancers feel emotional and physical pain and pressure, but male dancers have the added layer of physiological complexity of choosing a career that is considered feminine. 

Listen to John Heginbotham, David Leventhal and Bradon McDonald speak candidly about the support from their families, the hardships and the portrayal of these experiences in the new broadway musical Billy Elliot. 

You can listen to the interview here. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Another dance show comes to NBC

Do we really need another prime-time dance show? According to NBC we do and we will get it this January. Hosted by Michael Flatley, this show focuses on "dance superstars" and is a competition featuring a soloist, a duo and a group team representing one of eight countries. The show premiers on January 5th and will run until the 26. Here's the press release: 
NBC will broadcast "Superstars Of Dance" a breathtaking international dance competition led by executive producers Nigel Lythgoe and Simon Fuller, two of the masterminds behind "American Idol" and "So You Think You Can Dance" and hosted by Michael Flatley ("Lord of the Dance"). For broadcast in early 2009, the unique series will pit the masters of various dance genres from eight countries against each other. Equal parts sporting event, rock concert and artistic exhibition, "Superstars Of Dance" is poised to become one the greatest spectacles of dance performance ever seen on television.

The announcement was made by Craig Plestis, Executive Vice President, Alternative Programming, Development and Specials, NBC Entertainment.

"This dance competition is very much like the Olympics," said Plestis. "The physical feats these athletes and artists pull is mind-blowing, and we're so excited to form what we hope will be the definitive dance competition to decide which nation has what it takes to be the best of the best in the world. With so much at stake, this is sure to be a roller coaster, and you never know what will happen next. Plus, with Nigel and Simon running the show, it will be done first class all the way."

"This is the most challenging and exhilarating project I've ever done," said Lythgoe. "Nothing of this magnitude has ever been attempted before on television. We will bring to America different cultural styles of dancers -- each performer the best in their genre -- and the sheer mosaic of styles and energy is going to be nothing short of awe-inspiring."

Eight countries will participate in the competition with each team comprised of two soloists, one duo and one larger group. Viewers will get to know the competitors and the coaches through the trials and tribulations, both behind the scenes and on the stage. The stakes are high for these artists, as they are not only representing themselves, but also their dance form and their entire nation.

The eight countries currently scheduled to participate include: Ireland, India, USA, Argentina, China, Russia, South Africa and Australia. The dance styles that will be represented on the show will be announced at a later date.

"Superstars Of Dance" is from 19 Entertainment. Nigel Lythgoe ("American Idol," "So You Think You Can Dance") and Simon Fuller ("American Idol," "So You Think You Can Dance") are the executive producers.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Alternatives to The Nutcracker

You have a busy month of decorating, buying gifts and planning party schedules ahead of you. When you're finished do you plan to unwind at a performance of The Nutcracker? Thousands of families across the country will spend an evening with the Clara and her prince this December. Originally choreograph by Marius Petipa for the Imperial Theatres in 1891 and with music by Tchaikovsky, this family favorite is an easy way to introduce children to the art because of its fairy-tale characters and simplistic story. It also is readily accessible, with the Boston Ballet, among hundreds of other companies across the country, performing it until January.  But there are alternatives to this holiday favorite, which can help you unwind just as easily, while introducing children to alternative styles of dance. 

Here in Boston you can choose styles ranging from Middle Eastern to contemporary dance. Here are some performances to consider:

Honey Blonder presents 12 Dancers Dancing...A Christmas in Cambridge at Dance Complex from Dec. 12 to 13. This holiday-themed repertoire features several local dance companies and choreogrpahers including Rainbow Tribe, Mavi Dance, Derrick Davis, Disco Brats, Kira Seamon, LaRossa Dance, Brookline Academy Dance Ensemble, Mass Motion, Jim Banta and Kimberly Stegmaier. 

Contrapose Dance and Green Street Studios present a Christmas Toy Story at Green Street Studios from Dec. 12-20. This piece featuring local contemporary dance artists is a fable of elves, broken toys, a gust of wind and resourceful friends. 

Vadalna Tribal Dance Co. presents Menagerie at The Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center on Dec. 5 and 6. With a theatrical base, this company merges traditional Middle Eastern dance with contemporary styles and hip-hop. 

Local artist Lucy Stack and Seattle's Dead Bird Movement presents Unfolding Spaces at the Mass. College of Art Pozen Center on Dec. 7.  These seven young artists will perform an evening-length collaborative piece mixing dance, music, video and sculpture. 

For more information on any of these performances, visit the Boston Dance Alliance.