In short Born in poverty in rural Texas, Alvin Ailey grew into a gifted choreographer who drew inspiration from African American culture. He went on to become both an American institution and a broken man. Backstory Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, founded in New York in 1958, was named as an act of entitlement. Ailey, a black choreographer who had been born in rural Texas in 1931, where racial segregation was still in full force, was profoundly conscious of two Americas: white and black. By launching American Dance Theater with Blues Suite – a piece brimming with images from his Depression-era childhood and filled with the sound and spirit of the blues – Ailey was also staking a claim: that black America, too, could represent the country. After moving to Los Angeles aged 11, Ailey found himself in a more racially mixed environment, and as a youngster was as inspired as much by the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo as by Katherine Dunham's black dance revues. His first serious … [Read more...] about Step-by-step guide to dance: Alvin Ailey
Ashdod dance festival
Strictly Come Dancing is set to welcome Motsi Mabuse to the judging panel following Dame Darcey Bussell's departure. Fans of the BBC ballroom competition have been speculating as to who could be taking over from Darcey since she announced her exit last year. Now, accomplished professional dancer Motsi – the sister of popular pro Oti Mabuse – has been revealed to be joining Craig Revel Horwood, Bruno Tonioli and Shirley Ballas in the 2019 series, which kicks off later this year. But who is Motsi as she prepares to hit our screens? Who is Motsi Mabuse? Motsi Mabuse – full name Motshegetsi Mabuse – is a professional dancer who was born in Mankwe and grew up in Pretoria, South Africa. She is also sister of fellow pro Oti Mabuse, who has worked on Strictly since 2015. While Motsi initially pursued a career in law at the University of Pretoria with the hope of taking over her dad's law firm, she later decided to quit and follow her dancing dreams. She moved to … [Read more...] about Who is Strictly Come Dancing judge Motsi Mabuse as she’s announced as Darcey’s replacement?
There may be cooler, more esoteric venues on the Edinburgh fringe but Dance Base offers a history of consistent programming and artistic development that promises a good chance of quality, even if it can't guarantee it. Playing daily (until 23 August) at the venue is Rosie Kay's Sluts of Possession, a duet in which she and Brazilian dancer Guilherme Miotto conjure states of heightened physical and spiritual experience. Dressed like 21st-century backpackers, but with their faces daubed in patterns of white paint, the two dancers enter the stage like creatures from a lost tribe. Already they seem in a profoundly altered state – eyes focused somewhere very far distant, or very deep inside. And the 40-minute work that follows is a physical tour de force as the couple perform an anthropological compendium of trance or ritual dances. They stalk like stiff-legged feral creatures; they shuffle and grunt on all fours; they retreat into near-catatonic shivering, or eat up space in … [Read more...] about Sluts of Possession – Edinburgh festival 2013 review
Dancer and choreographer Oona Doherty’s Hard to be Soft: A Belfast Prayer is about the toughness of her hometown; the carapace of swagger and sass, rage and resilience built up by men and women in a place where the conflict seems intractable and horizons are limited by constrictions of class and religion. Playing out within a large illuminated cage and divided into four chapters – Lazarus and the Birds of Paradise, Sugar Army, Meat Kaleidoscope and Helium – this deeply humane and superbly crafted work begins and ends with solos for Doherty. Dressed in a baggy white T-shirt and jogging bottoms, her hair scraped back into a small bun, she embodies an instantly recognisable type of hyper-masculinity: squaring up, staring down; a casual cock-of-the-walk stance, hands unabashedly stuck down waistband, that morphs into a back-bending, fist-flailing surge of fury. Set against a soundtrack of recorded Belfast voices and soaring liturgical music, Doherty’s gestural … [Read more...] about Hard to Be Soft: A Belfast Prayer review – a potent dance of rage and resilience
Ruth Brill A Peter and the Wolf where Peter is a girl, the animals dress in streetwear and the pastoral setting becomes an urban playground: this is the world according to Ruth Brill. The 30-year-old has just made her second main-stage work for Birmingham Royal Ballet, the company she has danced with since 2012, and is now retiring as a dancer to concentrate on choreography. Brill’s work has a sense of fun, fantasy and solid classical grounding. Her last piece, Arcadia, had nymphs and gods cavorting in the woods. In Peter and the Wolf – Prokofiev’s much-loved children’s piece, narrated here by poet Hollie McNish – the duck may be a hormonal teen in headphones, and the dancers wearing a mix of pointe shoes and trainers, but the steps are still steeped in classical tradition, just with character-driven inflections, diversions and quirks. Seeking to connect with her audience, Brill has made dance for the Rugby World Cup and Birmingham flash mobs. Her next … [Read more...] about ‘We need to step up!’ Five women pushing dance forward