Michael Jackson could only spin to the left, said Donald McKayle

Dance · Music · Theater
Chatting in 2011 with the great Tony Award-winning choreographer Donald McKayle (Raisin, Sophisticated Ladies, Dr. Jazz), who passed away just last week, McKayle let drop that he had worked with Michael Jackson on two occasions. And he remembered one funny detail. “He taught himself to dance,” said McKayle. “He could spin only to the left.” ...

A smoking dance number! ‘Two Cigarettes in the Dark’

Dance · Film · Music
It was so much fun to receive this dance number (above) from our friend the pianist/performer Peter Mintun, a very niche expert in old-tyme American popular music — the stuff of cafe society. The lead tap dancer (unidentified) and chorines deliver performances that can best be described as ‘smoking.’ “Two Cigarettes in the Dark,” by ...

From South Africa, Dada Masilo’s re-envisioned ‘Giselle’ @ The Wallis

Dance
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She’s messed with Romeo and Juliet, Swan Lake, and Carmen. Now comes Giselle. ‘Messed with’ is perhaps a strong term, but South Africa’s Dada Masilo is among a small group of choreographers – notably Matthew Bourne, Akram Khan, Boris Eifman and Mats Ek – with the guts to turn a hallowed narrative ballet into something ...

A house tinged by antisemitism: Denishawn 1

Dance
Excerpted from: Humphrey, Doris, “Doris Humphrey: An Artist First,” an autobiography edited and completed by Selma Jeanne Cohen (Wesleyan University Press, Middletown CT), 1972, pp 61-62. The summer of 1928 Charles [Weidman] and I were teaching the classes at the Carnegie Hall studio, while Pauline [Lawrence] played piano. The students were stimulated by our enthusiasm ...

Edna Guy: her race kept her from dancing with Denishawn

Dance
Three years after Tamiris premiered her first Negro Spirituals, Edna Guy and Hemsley Winfield collaborated to stage the First Negro Dance Recital in America on 29 April 1931. With tickets priced from one to four dollars, spectators at the Theatre in the Clouds, an intimate space located on the top floor of the Chanin Building ...

Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, pianist Joyce Yang bring lively arts to The Soraya

Dance
In the third of its four-year residency at the Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts (The Soraya) — the erstwhile Valley Performing Arts Center — the beautiful boutique contemporary-ballet troupe Aspen Santa Fe Ballet brings an evening of repertory dance to live musical accompaniment.  The program includes a new work Half/Cut/Split by ...

Politics? Paul Draper says it with his feet. 1

Dance · Language & ideas
Would that certain people would zip their lip — and tell it like the great tap dancer Paul Draper does in this footage from 1948. Draper, in that year, was on the cusp of being blacklisted in the reign of terror foisted on thinkers, artists and other creatives by the House Unamerican Activities Committee. In ...

Modern dance revivified by Sokolow Theatre/Dance Ensemble

Dance
Sokolow Theatre/Dance Ensemble Odes, choreography by Anna Sokolow Photo: Melissa Sobel\Meems Images Adjacent to the tree growing in Brooklyn this weekend is a wonderful program of classical modern dance choreography presented by the Sokolow Theatre/Dance Ensemble. The 14-member ensemble will be joined by guests David Glista of the Limon Dance Company; Jennifer Conley, former soloist ...

Dylan Gutierrez brings his Romeo home to L.A. with The Joffrey Ballet

Dance · Music
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The Joffrey Ballet’s Dylan Gutierrez is an LA kid. Before he hit ten, he was on stage with Placido Domingo in LA Opera’s “Falstaff” and “Sampson and Delilah” at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. He was a student at the Los Angeles Ballet Academy in Encino – run by his former-ballerina mother – and was once ...

Delicious, de-lovely, demonstrative Lena Horne, in centenary tribute 1

Dance · Music
Vocalist Candice Hoyes, draws from rare cinema, musical theater, jazz and soul music to debut a night of music inspired by the life of Lena Horne.  One of the most iconic jazz vocalists, Horne blazed a trail of remarkable song discography and bravery as one of the leading American civil rights activists across a sixty ...