Sono Osato, Japanese-American Ballet Star, Is Dead at 99

Posted in Articles, Arts, Asian Diaspora, Biography, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2018-12-29 02:39Z by Steven

Sono Osato, Japanese-American Ballet Star, Is Dead at 99

The New York Times
2018-12-26

Richard Goldstein


Sono Osato rehearsing a number from the Broadway musical “On the Town” with the show’s choreographer, Jerome Robbins, in 1944. It was one of two hit musicals in which Ms. Osato appeared in the 1940s.
Eileen Darby/Graphic House

Sono Osato, a Japanese-American dancer who toured the world with the Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo, performed with the Ballet Theater in New York and then gained acclaim on Broadway in the World War II-era musicals “One Touch of Venus” and “On the Town,” was found dead early Wednesday at her home in Manhattan. She was 99.

Her death was confirmed by her sons, Niko and Antonio Elmaleh.

In the 1930s, Ms. Osato was a groundbreaking presence in Col. Wassily de Basil’s Ballets Russes, the world’s most widely known ballet company. She was the company’s youngest dancer when she joined, at 14; she was also its first performer of Japanese descent…

…Although she was born and raised in the Midwest, Ms. Osato seemed an incongruous choice to play Ivy Smith, billed as the “all-American girl,” in “On the Town.” Her father, Shoji, was a native of Japan, and her mother, Frances, was of French-Irish background…

Read the entire obituary here.

Tags: , , , ,

Chyrstyn Fentroy — First Black Woman To Join Boston Ballet In A Decade — Debuts As Snow Queen In ‘The Nutcracker’

Posted in Articles, Arts, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2018-12-02 22:07Z by Steven

Chyrstyn Fentroy — First Black Woman To Join Boston Ballet In A Decade — Debuts As Snow Queen In ‘The Nutcracker’

WBUR 90.9 FM
Boston, Massachusetts
2018-11-30

Arielle Gray, Arts Fellow

Lasha Khozashvili and Chyrstyn Fentroy in Mikko Nissinen's The Nutcracker (Photo by Angela Sterling, courtesy of Boston Ballet)
Lasha Khozashvili and Chyrstyn Fentroy in Mikko Nissinen’s The Nutcracker (Photo by Angela Sterling, courtesy of Boston Ballet)

Artificial snow falls gently from the top of the stage of the Boston Opera House, encasing the space in an ethereal glittering glow. Beneath it dances Chyrstyn Fentroy as the Snow Queen, entwined in an elegant flow of limbs and carefully choreographed steps with the Snow King. The Boston Ballet is rehearsing for its opening night of “The Nutcracker,” the other worldly production based off of E.T.A Hoffman’s novella. Fentroy debuted as the Snow Queen on Thursday evening and will star in the role again on Sunday, Dec. 2.

Fentroy makes a stunning Snow Queen, traversing the stage in a series of light, precise steps. The role is a notable milestone for Fentroy, who has been deeply involved in the world of dance since she was old enough to walk. She tells me she’s the first black female dancer to join the Boston Ballet in the last decade.

Growing up as the daughter of two dancers in Los Angeles, Fentroy spent a lot of time in the dance studio. “’The Nutcracker’ specifically is something that’s kind of been a part of my life forever,” Fentroy told WBUR. “I grew up watching my mom do the Sugarplum Fairy variation and spent so many years in the wings watching performances.”…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Misty Copeland: the trailblazing ballerina loved by Prince, Obama and Disney

Posted in Articles, Arts, Biography, Media Archive, United States on 2018-11-12 03:26Z by Steven

Misty Copeland: the trailblazing ballerina loved by Prince, Obama and Disney

The Guardian
2018-11-07

Lyndsey Winship, Dance Critic

‘I had this awakening’ … Misty Copeland.
‘I had this awakening’ … Misty Copeland. Photograph: Danielle Levitt for the Observer

She thinks ballet’s broken – and has a plan to fix it. The star of Disney’s Nutcracker reboot talks about racism, nude shoes and growing up bendy

Ballet was definitely my escape,” says Misty Copeland. “It was the first thing I’d ever experienced in my life that was mine – only mine, not my five other siblings’. It gave me a voice, made me feel powerful.”

When Copeland discovered ballet she was 13, living with her mother and siblings in a motel in California. She was a shy, slight child who rarely spoke and tried not to be noticed. Twenty-three years later, hers is the kind of transformation story even ballet might think far-fetched. In 2015, she became the first black female principal dancer at American Ballet Theatre – and with that a spokesperson, poster girl, and bona fide star. Barack Obama sought her out as an adviser, Prince invited her on tour, Spike Lee wants her in his films, and people queue up to meet her at the stage door of the Metropolitan Opera House in New York.

And now the latest chapter in her real-life fairytale has begun to unfold. Copeland is dancing in Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, a cinema revamp of the Christmas favourite starring Keira Knightley, Helen Mirren and Morgan Freeman

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , ,

Review: With ‘Dougla,’ Dance Theater of Harlem Recalls Past Glory

Posted in Arts, Caribbean/Latin America, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2018-04-11 20:46Z by Steven

Review: With ‘Dougla,’ Dance Theater of Harlem Recalls Past Glory

The New York Times
2018-04-08

Brian Seibert


Alicia Mae Holloway, center, and fellow members of Dance Theater of Harlem performing in “Dougla.”
Andrea Mohin/The New York Times

The enthusiastic applause for Dance Theater of Harlem’s revival of “Dougla,” at the New York City Center on Friday, started as soon as the curtain rose. The opening image was of a stage full of proudly posed men and women, all in floor-length skirts decorated with little red pom-poms. More of those pom-poms crowned their heads like rooster combs.

Geoffrey Holder, who choreographed “Dougla” in 1974 (and died in 2014), also designed its costumes, and the dance is largely a costume pageant. But it wasn’t just the spectacle that people were cheering.

Long a staple of Dance Theater of Harlem’s repertory, “Dougla” has not been performed by the company since 2004. That year, debt forced the troupe into hiatus, and when the company re-emerged in 2013, its roster had shrunk by more than half…

…“Dougla” is a rather old-fashioned work. The title is a word used, especially in Mr. Holder’s native Trinidad, to label people of mixed South Asian and African descent. As part of its representation of such people, the choreography indulges in a kind of cartoon imitation of Indian dance. While wood blocks crack, heads nod and wobble like the tops of bobblehead dolls. The motion is theatrically effective — that’s why it’s repeated even during the bows — but close to caricature…

Read the entire review here.

Tags: , , , , ,

‘A Lot Is Still So Much the Same’: Misty Copeland on Decades of Racism and Ballet

Posted in Articles, Arts, Biography, Media Archive, United States on 2018-01-28 02:54Z by Steven

‘A Lot Is Still So Much the Same’: Misty Copeland on Decades of Racism and Ballet

TIME
2018-01-16

Olivia B. Waxman


Misty Copeland (right) and Raven Wilkinson at the Urban World Film Festival in New York, NY, on Sep. 27 2015. MediaPunch/REX/Shutterstock

In the years since she became the first black ballerina to be a principal dancer with the American Ballet Theatre, Misty Copeland has become a well-known symbol of breaking down barriers in her art. The strides she has made build on the work of one particular dancer — a mentor of Copeland’s, Raven Wilkinson, who broke new ground in similar ways during the 1950s. And, though much has changed since that era in both civil rights and on the stage, Copeland tells TIME that there is still a long way to go.

Wilkinson’s passion for ballet began at an early age and would take her around the nation with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. As the first African American ballerina to dance with a major touring troupe, she performed the coveted solo waltz in Les Sylphides.

But her story — which is told in the new picture book Trailblazer: The Story of Ballerina Raven Wilkinson, written by Leda Schubert and illustrated by Theodore Taylor III, and released Tuesday in time for Black History Month in February — didn’t always feel like a fairy tale…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

From Misty Copeland: Adjustments, Tips and Inspiration

Posted in Arts, Media Archive on 2017-11-12 17:53Z by Steven

From Misty Copeland: Adjustments, Tips and Inspiration

The New York Times
2017-11-08

Siobhan Burke, Dance Writer
Brooklyn, New York


Misty Copeland (center) coaching students at Harlem Stage on Monday (facing the camera, Emily Lugohart and Gabriela Urena). Credit Marc Millman

Dougie Baldeo, a 13-year-old ballet student at Harlem School of the Arts, stood onstage Monday night as Misty Copeland offered him pointers on his port de bras, or carriage of the arms.

“Once you start moving, I don’t want to see the claw creep back in,” she said, referring to his sometimes tense right hand.

Dougie was one of 13 students selected to study — if only for an hour — with Ms. Copeland, one of the most famous ballerinas in the world, who in 2015 became the first female African-American principal dancer with American Ballet Theater.

And if the students, from Harlem School of the Arts and the Dance Theater of Harlem School, were already feeling nervous because of all that star power, there was added pressure: an audience. The event, “A Misty Copeland Ballet Class,” organized by Harlem Stage at its Gatehouse space was open to the students’ families and peers, with a few seats available to the public…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Misty Copeland, a Ballerina With Real Acting Chops

Posted in Articles, Arts, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2017-05-14 18:47Z by Steven

Misty Copeland, a Ballerina With Real Acting Chops

The New York Times
2017-05-09

Gia Kourlas


As Misty Copeland gets older, she seeks even more depth in her acting.
Credit Dolly Faibyshev for The New York Times

Misty Copeland isn’t one of those principals who step onstage a few times a season. She dances. A lot.

“It’s crazy how I took jumping for granted all these years,” Ms. Copeland, 34, said as she stretched out on the floor between rehearsals at American Ballet Theater’s studios. Stella Abrera, a fellow principal, nodded in agreement. “What did you just do?” she asked.

“Kitri,” Ms. Copeland replied.

“Ouch,” Ms. Abrera said.

This season — Ms. Copeland’s second year as a principal — is a killer that includes her debut as Kitri in “Don Quixote” on Tuesday, May 16, and her New York debut as Giselle on May 26. As the company’s artistic director, Kevin McKenzie, put it, it’s symbolic because “she’s taking the mantle of the classics on.”…

…During a rehearsal the night before a performance in Washington earlier this year, Ms. Copeland described how after her first fouetté, she felt a pop in her neck and a warm sensation travel down her spine. “Even just approaching the fouettés,” she said, “it was like something tensed up in me and made that happen.”

So she reached out to a sports psychologist in California. “I spent 10 hours with this guy nonstop, talking about my feelings about myself in connection to my career and how I feel people are judging me,” she said. “Especially when it comes to that role, and what it means to be a black woman doing it. I’m trying to get to the root of all of it, and just be like as pure as I can be when I go out there and not carry all that baggage.”…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , ,

Misty Copeland: dancing into history

Posted in Articles, Arts, Biography, Media Archive, United States on 2017-03-06 20:56Z by Steven

Misty Copeland: dancing into history

The Guardian
2017-03-05

Aaron Hicklin


Born to dance: Copeland’s story is, for millions of Americans, an archetypal story of triumph over adversity. Photograph: Danielle Levitt for the Observer

She was caught between her impoverished mother and the ballet mistress who offered her a way out. Aaron Hicklin meets Misty Copeland, the first black principal at the American Ballet Theatre

We cannot know whether Misty Copeland would have become America’s most celebrated ballet dancer if she had not met Cindy Bradley, the flame-haired instructor who first recognised and then sharpened her talents, but it seems unlikely. Then again, it’s doubtful that Copeland would have met Bradley if not for Elizabeth Cantine, the coach of her school drill team who urged her to check out the free ballet class at the Boys & Girls Club of San Pedro. Nor is it clear that Copeland would have joined Cantine’s squad without the encouragement of her adored older sister, Erica, a drill team star. It was Erica who helped Copeland choreograph an audition piece to George Michael’s I Want Your Sex. And who, knowing her story, can omit the Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci from this roll call? As a seven-year-old, trying to emulate Comaneci’s pyrotechnics, Copeland instinctively understood “that rhythmic motion came as naturally to me as breathing,” to quote from her memoir, Life in Motion

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , ,

Call For Papers: Spaniards, Natives, Africans, and Gypsies: Transatlantic Malagueñas and Zapateados in Music, Song, and Dance

Posted in Arts, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, United States, Wanted/Research Requests/Call for Papers on 2016-12-30 22:04Z by Steven

Call For Papers: Spaniards, Natives, Africans, and Gypsies: Transatlantic Malagueñas and Zapateados in Music, Song, and Dance

2016-10-16

K. Meira Goldberg, Visiting Research Scholar
Foundation for Iberian Music
The Graduate Center
The City University of New York
365 Fifth Avenue
New York, New York 10016

Prof. Walter Clark, Director
The Center for Iberian and Latin American Music
Department of Music
University of California
900 University Avenue
Riverside, California 92521

Antoni Pizà, Director
Foundation for Iberian Music
The Graduate Center
The City University of New York
365 Fifth Avenue
New York, New York 10016
apiza@gc.cuny.edu

The Center for Iberian and Latin American Music at the University of California at Riverside, and the Foundation for Iberian Music at The Barry S. Brook Center for Music Research and Documentation at the CUNY Graduate Center will host a conference on the transatlantic circulation of malagueñas and zapateados at University of California, Riverside on April 6–7, 2017.

In the inaugural conference in this series, Spaniards, Indians, Africans, and Gypsies: The Global Reach of the Fandango in Music, Song, and Dance, we gathered in New York to explore the fandango as a mestizaje, a mélange of people, imagery, music and dance from America, Europe, and Africa, whose many faces reflect a diversity of exchange across what were once the Spanish and Portuguese Empires. At that conference, we considered the broadest possible array of the fandango across Europe and the Americas, asking how the fandango participated in the elaboration of various national identities, how the fandangos of the Enlightenment shed light on musical populism and folkloric nationalism as armaments in revolutionary struggles for independence of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and how contemporary fandangos function within the present-day politics of decolonialization and immigration. We asked whether and what shared formal features—musical, choreographic, or lyric—may be discerned in the diverse constituents of the fandango family in Spain and the Americas, and how our recognition of these features might enhance our understanding of historical connections between these places. We hoped with that pioneering effort to gather international, world-renowned scholars to open new horizons and lay the foundation for further research, conferences, and publications. We are immensely proud of that 2015 gathering, and of the two published editions of its proceedings: in bilingual form in the Spanish journal Música Oral del Sur (vol. 12, 2015) and in English (forthcoming 2016 from Cambridge Scholars Publishing).

But the inaugural conference merely set the first stone. All of the participants in the 2015 meeting agreed that conversations should continue, relationships should develop, and that many questions and avenues of research remain. We are therefore pleased to issue a call for papers for the upcoming conference on two nineteenth-century forms related to the fandango—at least in their standing as iconic representations of Spanishness: malagueñas and zapateados.

How do these forms comprise a “repertoire” in performance theorist Diana Taylor’s sense of the term as enacting “embodied memory” and “ephemeral, nonreproducible knowledge,” allowing for “an alternative perspective on historical processes of transnational contact” and a “remapping of the Americas…following traditions of embodied practice”? The Center and the Foundation invite interested scholars, graduate students, and practitioners including musicians and dancers to propose presentations on all subjects related to malagueñas and zapateados. Although we are not limited to them, we expect to gain special insight into the following topics:

  1. From their virtuoso elaborations in flamenco song, to the solo guitar rondeñas of “El Murciano,” from the 1898 La malagueña y el torero filmed by the Lumière brothers to Denishawn’s 1921 Malagueña, from Isaac Albéniz’s iconic pianistic malagueñas to the interpretation by Cuban composer Ernesto Lecuona which, as Walter Clark observes, became a global pop tune, how do malagueñas address the aspirations of growing middle-class concert audiences on both sides of the Atlantic?
  2. How do they reflect and crystalize prevailing yet contested notions of what is “Spanish”?
  3. How, in the transgressive ruckus and subversive sonorities of Afro-Latin zapateados circulating through, as performance scholar Stephen Johnson says, the ports, waterways, and docks of the Black Atlantic may we describe the race mimicry inherent in nineteenth-century performance?
  4. What is the relationship of zapateado with tap and other forms of percussive dance in American popular music?
  5. And how in the roiled and complicated surfaces of these forms may we discern the archived rhythmic and dance ideas of African and Amerindian lineage that are magical, or even sacred?
  6. How do zapateado rhythms express the tidal shift in accentuation of the African 6/8 from triple to duple meter described by Rolando Perez Fernandez?
  7. How did the zapateados danced in drag, in bullrings and ballets, resist nineteenth-century gender codes?
  8. What secrets are held in the zapateados performed on a tarima planted in the earth and tuned by ceramic jugs in Michoacán?
  9. In light of compelling research by Andrés Reséndez and Benjamin Madley into the devastating history of enslavement and genocide of indigenous peoples of the Americas, what new considerations arise with regard to best practices for historiographically aware nomenclature? How should we view and use words like “Indian,” “Native,” “mestizo,” “criollo,” etc.?

Paper presentations will be 20 minutes, with 10 minutes of discussion. We also welcome workshop-style presentations incorporating dance, music, and song. Please send a title and a 150-200 word abstract to K. Meira Goldberg at fandangoconference.cuny@gmail.com. by December 31, 2016.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Misty Copeland on Seeing So Many Brown Ballerinas in Cuba: “That Will Forever Stick With Me”

Posted in Articles, Arts, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Women on 2016-12-26 21:03Z by Steven

Misty Copeland on Seeing So Many Brown Ballerinas in Cuba: “That Will Forever Stick With Me”

Remezcla
2016-12-22

Yara Simón, Trending Editor


Photo: Emily Jan/NPR

In the world of American ballet, Misty Copeland is the exception. As the first black woman to become a principal dancer for the American Ballet Theatre, Copeland knows what it’s like to be one of the few women of color to break through. That’s why when President Barack Obama asked her to visit Cuba as part of a sports envoy program designed to further strengthen relations between the United States and the Caribbean nation, Misty felt struck by the number of brown bodies she saw at the prestigious Ballet Nacional de Cuba.

“Just the imagery of seeing a room full of Cuban women and men with brown skin, doing classical ballet, and it’s not even a question for them,” she told The Undefeated. “It’s like, ‘No, this is what we do and this is what we look like.’ That’s something that will forever stick with me.”…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , ,