Rachel Straus - Dance Writer

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Juilliard Dance

 
Published: October 1, 2011
Category: history

Michael Bennett: History Quiz

By Rachel Straus 1. How did Bennett model himself after Jerome Robbins? 2. What was the first Broadway show Bennett saw at age 11? 3. _______ was Bennett’s longtime collaborator. 4. Name a few Broadway shows Bennett directed and/or choreographed? 5. Who organized the 1974 tape sessions that later developed into A Chorus Line? 6. []

Published: October 1, 2011
Category: history

He's the One: Broadway Knight Michael Bennett

By Rachel Straus A dancer’s ornamentally unfurling arms and catlike spine develop under a spotlight. Alone in a dark, empty space, she watches her haloed dancing figure in a mirrored triptych, whose three panels resemble a church altar painting. In this iconic “Music and the Mirror” number of A Chorus Line, director Michael Bennett revealed []

Published: August 1, 2011
Category: history

Kurt Jooss: The founding father of Tanztheater

By Rachel Straus On the brink of World War II, German choreographer Kurt Jooss arrived in New York with his company to perform. Before curtain, Jooss learned that some black audience members had been barred from their seats. Jooss told the theater administration that unless they amended their whites-only policy, there would be no show. []

Published: July 1, 2011
Category: history

Melissa Hayden: Ballet’s unstoppable force

By Rachel Straus

At 14, Gillian Murphy remembers walking into her first class with renowned ballerina Melissa Hayden, whose intense demeanor could seem harsh. “She bounded into the room and electrified us with her energy,” says Murphy, now a principal with American Ballet Theatre. “We learned something very important about seizing the moment, pushing []

Published: May 1, 2011
Category: history

Zeigfeld and His Follies: The producer who made the showgirl a star

By Rachel Straus In the “Blushing Ballet” number of the Ziegfeld Follies of 1916, the curtain opens on a replica of the dance tableau in Michel Fokine’s Les Sylphides. Moments later, this high-art vision, saturated with old-world European sophistication, changes: Heavyset comedian Sam B. Hardy plods across the stage as the femme fatale Zoebeide from []

Published: February 1, 2011
Category: history

Talley Beatty

By Rachel Straus Defining black tradition in dance Before there was Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s Revelations (1960) and its signature solo “I Want To Be Ready,” Talley Beatty (1923–1995) broke boundaries with his first professional piece, Southern Landscape (1947). This five-section dance, inspired by Howard Fast’s Southern Reconstruction novel Freedom Road, and Beatty’s own []

Published: February 1, 2011
Category: history

History Quiz: Talley Beatty

By Rachel Straus     1. Who was Talley Beatty’s first dance teacher? 2. Beatty’s choreographic genius was transforming experiences of _____ _____into brilliant physical expressions of the _____ _____. 3. True or False: Beatty rejected ballet for Afro-Caribbean and modern dance. 4. What is the name of the first dance that Beatty created for []

Published: January 1, 2011
Category: history

Robert Alton

Robert Alton and Greta Garbo in MGM’s Two-Faced Woman (1940)

“I have exactly six minutes in which to raise the customer out of his seat. If I cannot do it, I am no good,” Robert Alton (1902–1957) once told a reporter. For three decades, the choreographer created hundreds of colorful, sexy and funny dance numbers for the stage and screen. He fused existing ballet, tap, ballroom, modern and jazz steps together, creating the breezy dance style of the American musical still seen on Broadway today. []

Published: January 1, 2011
Category: history

History Quiz: Robert Alton

By Rachel Straus 1. Name the famous jazz teacher who Alton encouraged to start teaching. 2. The Bolshoi-trained ballet dancer, Mikhail Mordkin taught Alton a beautiful _____ _____ _____ and an expansive use of the _____ _____. 3. Alton made which Hollywood star move effortlessly?4. In his first gig as a film dance director, Alton []

Published: November 2, 2010
Category: history

Maurice Béjart

By Rachel Straus

The rock concert experience, with its mass appeal and raucous atmosphere, is not commonly associated with classical, opera house ballet. But in the 1960s, French choreographer Maurice Béjart (1927–2007) created grand theatrical spectacles that were performed in sports arenas and circus tents and spoke to a younger generation.

Over 45 years []