Maria Tallchief Memorial

This Sunday, May 5 at 3 pm there will be a memorial tribute at the Francis W. Parker School (330 W. Webster Ave.) in honor of the late ballerina Maria Tallchief Paschen. The public is invited to celebrate her life and legacy with? distinguished speakers, a music tribute by pianist George Lapauw and a film tribute by Donna LaPietra.

Contributions can be made to the Maria Tallchief Scholarship Fund. Please send a check (with “Maria Tallchief Scholarship Fund” in the memo) to:

The School of American Ballet, 70 Lincoln Center Plaza, New York, NY 10023.

Dancer/Actor Needed for Book Trailer Shoot

Wanted: Actor/Actress for book trailer

Looking for a young actor or actress who fits the criteria below, for a young adult book trailer project. Shooting date May 18.

? androgynous looking
? 18-28 years old
? skinny
? tall
? previous experience in acting or dance
? non-union

Please send full body shot, facial close-up, and your acting background.

Location: Chicago
it’s NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests
Compensation: $50/hour, minimum of 3 hours guaranteed
Original URL:

Joffrey Ballet: American Legends preview

Joffrey dancers Jeraldine Mendoza & Dylan Gutierrez. Photo by Dave Frieddman.

Tomorrow night begins Joffrey Ballet‘s two-week run of American Legends at the Auditorium Theatre. Rehearsals were in full swing last Friday when I stopped by the studios for a peek. Artistic Director Ashley Wheater and Ballet Master Nicolas Blanc were fine-tuning sections of Jerome Robbins’ Interplay in one studio, while Crista Villella (daughter of Edward Villella, founding director of Miami City Ballet) coached two couples in Twyla Tharp’s Nine Sinatra Songs down the hall. Wheater discusses an awkward prep for a double tour to the knee with dancer John Mark Giragosian before running a killer fouette section multiple times. Villella focuses on tricky handholds in difficult lifts (it’s Twyla, ain’t nothing going to be easy) to the sounds of Sinatra’s theme song My Way.

Robbins’ 1945 work Interplay is a fun, youthful prelude to his masterpiece West Side Story that has major classical ballet moves mixed with cartwheels. Tharp’s ode to ‘Ole Blue Eyes is a series of duets in various stages of romance with costumes by Oscar de la Renta. All American legends. The Chicago premiere of Son of Chamber Symphony by Houston Ballet Artistic Director Stanton Welch (Australian-born, but perhaps an American legend in the making?) takes classic ballet to a new place with deconstructed costumes made to look like inside-out tutus. (I’ve heard they are a bitch to partner in.)? Set all of this to live music by the Chicago Philharmonic, add in a romantic, mystical pas, and you have the makings for a lovely Valentine-timed show.

On opening night dancers Jeraldine Mendoza (21) and Dylan Gutierrez (23), partners on and off stage, have the privilege of dancing Joffrey co-founder Gerald Arpino’s 1962 romantic pas de deux Sea Shadow in honor of what would be his 90th birthday. The duet feels like a rite of passage for the young couple who are quickly rising stars. Mendoza made heads turn in Wayne McGregor’s Infra last season and gained notoriety by winning a scholarship from the Leonore Annenberg Fellowship Fund. Gutierrez made a name for himself stepping in for an injured dancer in Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux for last season’s gala and as “Basilio” in Don Q. He solidified his stature (pun intended, he’s tall!) as a strong Cavalier for opening night of The Nutcracker this season. The two don’t normally dance together and are excited about this opportunity.

The 12-minute pas tells an Ondine-esque story of a man on a beach that falls in love with the idea of a perfect woman. Is she a shadow of the sea? Is she real? Mendoza thinks she’s something more. “I interpret it as I’m a mermaid,” she said. “She’s this mysterious creature that he’s so interested in.” Gutierrez’s take is a little different. “She’s like a fantasy,” he said. “She’s seducing him, but she doesn’t know how. She has as much interest in him as he has in her.” They admit some of the lifts and choreography are difficult, but they are ready for the challenge. In fact, they welcome it. “I think Ashley sees in both of us that we’re hungry and willing to dance,” said Mendoza. “I just love dancing and I want him to totally trust in me.” Gutierrez adds, “We’re people that when the opportunity presents itself, we don’t back away. Every role we’ve gotten, we’ve earned, even though they’ve come quickly. That’s just circumstance. It’s what you do with the shot when you get it. We’ve always delivered.”

The two have dated for over a year and admit that knowing each other so well makes a difference when dancing together and they make an effort to keep a certain distance emotionally on stage. Will falling in love in front of a large audience be a problem? “It’s easy,” said Gutierrez. “I already love her at the beginning of the ballet.”

Gutierrez, with the help of Mendoza (and friend Ruben Harris), started a movement called Young + Cultured. You can follow them on Twitter – @DylanthaVillain, @jeraldineeeee #YoungandCultured.

Joffrey Ballet presents American Legends at the Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Congress Pkwy., Wednesday, Feb. 13 – Sunday, Feb. 24. Performance times vary. Tickets are $31-$152. Call 800.982.2787 or visit

Who Are You?

Hello? You there, yes you.

Can I take a moment of your time for a quick, painless and ANONYMOUS survey? I have an idea of who you are, but would like to ask a few simple questions to solidify who is reading RB.

Please and thank you!






Are you a: dancer, former dancer, dance teacher, choreographer, dance fan/enthusiast, friend or other?
Where do you live? City, State.
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My version of Giselle

Giselle "Gigi" Crain at home.

Her extensions aren’t so good and she isn’t known for sticking to the choreography (although she is a wonderful marcher). ?But what she lacks in technique, she more than makes up for with enthusiasm…and kisses.

Stepping Into Hope & Change



Career Transition For Dancers will host a free career development conference on Sunday, April 1st at the Hubbard Street Dance Center (1147 W. Jackson Blvd).? All dancers are invited to attend.? You can be actively dancing, retired, getting ready to retire or just want some information to see what else is out there and available.? You do not need to be a client of Career Transition or a union member to come to the event.?? Hubbard Street Dance Chicago is hosting the event and providing the space.? There will be light refreshments served and you don’t have to stay for the entire day.

The conference is from 12:00 (noon) to 6:00 pm.? There will be a client services consultant and a career counselor on site, as well as Keynote Speaker Harrison McEldowney and Plenary Speaker Ron De Jesus, both well-known dancers and choreographers.? A panel of former dancers that have successfully transitioned to new, thriving careers includes Carl Corry, Keith Elliott, Cheryl Mann and Rachel Northway.

RSVP here in advance or call 312.666.0234.? For more information contact Tiffiny Flaim at

Working With Hay

Dancers Alaina Murray, Madelyn Doyle & Maggie Koller of The Dance COLEctive. Photo by William Frederking.

Next weekend at The Ruth Page Center for the Arts, The Dance COLEctive (TDC) takes the stage with Built By Fault, a concert featuring two works by Artistic Director Margi Cole and a solo, I Think Not, for Cole choreographed by Deborah Hay, a former Cunningham dancer and choreographer noted for her work in the solo form.? Last season’s Pull Taught (previewed here), inspired by Malcolm Gladwell’s book Blink, tackles instincts, gut reactions and how we come to quick decisions.? Cole’s new work for ten dancers, Moving Stories, reflects on the definition of home, a topic weighing on her mind while traveling in Europe for two weeks last August. “You have your tiny creature comforts that you take with you – my water bottle, my ball I wanted to roll on, a scarf I wore every day – it really makes you think about what you’re returning to, what you need and how home is defined,” she tells me over breakfast in Lakeview.? “Is it defined by the place where you are?? Is it defined by the stuff you have with? you?? Is it defined by people?? Is it always in the same place or does it change?”? Using these questions as a jumping-off point, the exploration quickly turned to questions about moving from one place to the next and how you decide what is important enough to keep.? That conversation naturally transitioned to moments of being emotionally moved.? Cole had just returned from Hay’s The Solo Performance Commissioning Project in Findhorn, Scotland, an experience she calls profound and humbling.

I want to talk about your solo.? Why did you want to work with Deborah Hay??

My interest was really about her solo practice and how it aligned with my interest in solo dance making and the fact that I’m scared shitless to make my own solo.? I’m still not ready to do that, so it’s a little stepping stone to that place where I might jump off and make myself a solo…sometime.? It’s hard to be in the work.? It’s hard to be inside of it.? Regardless of whether I’m the dance maker or the performer, the solo is informed by my experience.? I’m imprinted in it.? I have a little cache of solos that I’ve been doing since TDC started. ? I think it’s important for me, as the primary spokesmodel to have a presence that way…and important for me to have the opportunity to learn and flip the tables so that I’m the dancer instead of the choreographer.? Then I have more to give back to the dancers.? Local dancers Julia Mayer and Emily Stein had worked with Deborah and said they had really profound experiences.?

Did you have to audition?? How did you get chosen to attend the workshop?

You have to apply and get accepted and then you have to fulfill the caveat that you have to raise the money from the community.? You couldn?t throw any of your own money into the pot.? I had to meet the deadline for the commissioning fee by December, so I went to the Driehaus Foundation and said ?this is something I really want to do, would you be willing to help me? I?m going to raise the rest of the money through a Kickstarter program” and they were willing to help, then I raised the rest of the money through Kickstarter.? It’s a great mechanism.? I love that it has a deadline.?

What was the was the solo process like?

It?s almost like you have to strip down?you have to take away everything you know in order for you to get to a place where you can really have some self-reflection and have an authentic experience.? It?s really fucking scary.? The way she works allows for you to have this really profound experience.? She?s been working on solo practice for 40 years.? She?s got it perfected to some degree.? It?s perfected in a way that the shape of the process holds.? It?s like this vessel that allows you to explore and discover something new all the time.? That?s really part of what all of this was about.? I had a lot of epiphanies there.? One of the things that happened for me was that I recognized that the practice was all about honoring time in a different way.? It?s not about how much less you have, but how much more you have and that having a vast space for experience to happen is valid.? Having less time is part of my culture and using the time that I need and actually using the time that I need has the potential to be a political statement for me.? I also realized that I make myself terminally busy, so that I don?t have to self-reflect.? I had this moment with Deborah one day where she came and talked to me in group practice?there?s 20 of us in the room and she could tell that I was struggling and having this moment and she said, ?I can see that there?s a lot bubbling up for you and you?re getting a lot out of the process.? You know what?s really beautiful about it is what you?re getting is coming to you from the dance?through the experience of the dance.?? I?ve been dancing all this time and, in essence, just giving, giving and giving and never asking it for anything back.? The fact that I was having this really profound experience and it was being given to me by dancing was really overwhelming.? She just has this amazing power.? I felt really vulnerable the whole time I was working.? Deborah is so dedicated to discovering something new every time.? That?s not easy to do.? You have to be fully present and open.

Cole with choreographer Deborah Hay.

So, will all 20 of you do the same solo?

What happens is she gives us a score.? Basically it walks you through the whole process step-by-step.? It tells you where to go in terms of your shape, the choreography?and everybody has the same score.? Then she teaches you how she operates in space and what her values are around having that particular experience.? That?s how you surf in the structure of the score.? She gives us permission to create an adaptation* of her work.? An adaptation implies the evolution of the solo, so we can add a costume, we can add text, film, lights, etc.? We can?t create another element to the structure, but you can subtract from it.? When she sends you away, you sign a contract that says you have to practice your solo daily for three months, basically five days a week, and you have to commit to the exploration of the solo practice.? That paired with your commitment to the community of people who have backed your work gives you accountability.? We can invite people to come and watch.? It?s a challenge to incorporate the daily practice into your life on top of everything else.? I?ve been doing it, but it hasn?t been easy.? Again one of the big things I got from this was about honoring time.? As I?ve been doing my practice, I?ve had a really hard time getting over the hump toward a longer version of the solo. Ideally, it?s around 22 mins.? That?s a challenge for me, but it was also a discovery of how I operate personally.? I have self-discipline when it comes to getting the job done when it needs to be done, but when it has to do with me, then it?s not so good.? I?m really good at making myself the last priority.?? I did the solo on Sunday and one of the things that one of my dancers said was that she?d never seen me do anything like this before.? That was a huge compliment.? If I feel uncomfortable, then I rely on Margi-the-dancer and now I?m more to a point where I don?t have to rely on Margi-the-dancer to hold my own in the material.? I feel braver about being able to go beyond her.

Are you freaking out about having to perform it next week?

I?m a little scared.? I get nervous when I perform.? I have so many people invested in me and this that I want it to come off.? But I?m also so enamored with Deborah that how the adaptation comes to life is really important.? I want to honor her process and vision in terms of the work.?

I think it?s crazy brave.? I would never have the balls to do it.?

I knew what I was getting myself into, but?didn?t realize what I was going to take away from it.? She kept saying, ?What if where I am is what I need??? What do I need?? I never give myself enough time to think about it.

*Hay’s notes on adaptation here.

The Dance COLEctive presents ‘Built By Fault’, Jan 26 – 28 @ 8pm

Ruth Page Center, 1016 N Dearborn, Tickets $25 (Students/Seniors $20)


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