Barney's + Graham = A Fashionable Virtual Reality

Martha Graham Company and Barney's

You know them for their dresses, their shoes, and of course their irresistible purses...but for dance? Barney's has really taken it to the next level with their newest collaboration with the Martha Graham Company and Samsung. You may want to make your way over to a Barney’s flagship store - not to buy the latest bag, but to see the latest Graham performance.

The iconic fashion company has partnered with Samsung to create a virtual reality experience unlike any other. The Martha Graham Company can be seen through the VR glasses dancing while sporting the latest Barney’s designs. However, it’s not exactly the young hot fashion show you might be thinking of. The performance includes four principal company members, but it also includes eight past company members who range in age all the way up to seventy years old. This is a great example of Martha Graham herself, who danced well into her later years in life.

So what’s the theme? What are you supposed to walk away with? It seems that it’s up to the viewer, who has the rare experience of being an audience of one. The idea is that the performance will make the viewer look into their own self, all while observing the dancers moving through their own journey. It sounds powerful, intriguing, and flat out majestic. Hands up if you’re planning a shopping trip this weekend!

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NYC Theater Introduces “Pay What You Decide”

The Joyce Theatre "Pay What You Decide"

Let’s be real - being a dancer often means that money is tight. It’s not easy to pay for classes, clothes, rent, food...and when you try to throw tickets to shows on top of that - forget it! But this year, one theater is trying something a little different that may be a game changer. Famed NYC venue The Joyce Theater has announced that they will introduce a program called “Pay What You Decide” (or PWYD, for short). For three performances during their 2018 season, audience members will be invited to reserve a maximum of two seats for only $1 each. Then, after the performance, they will be able to pay what they believe is fair. Guests can do this in three ways: 1. Use a provided seatback envelope, 2. Speak with a mobile box office attendant, or 3. Log online within 24 hours and use a credit or debit card. The PWYD method will be available for one performance by each of the following companies: Company Wayne McGregor, Brian Brooks Dance, and Dada Masilo/The Dance Factory. We hope this initiative will help get more people interested in dance performances and open up opportunities for dancers on a budget to get inspired by world-class artists! For full details, visit the Joyce website

Director Drama at English National Ballet

Tamara Rojo and Isaac Hernandez in Hans van Manen’s Adagio Hammerklavier. © Dave Morgan

Last month, current former dancers from the English National Ballet made several claims to The Times (anonymously) about current director Tamara Rojo, stating that she is the reason many dancers have been leaving the company over the last few years. This was surprising to many, as reports of her work with the company have generally been very positive. 

The dancers accused her of favoring lead principal Isaac Hernández, with whom she is in a relationship. They also said that Rojo was often intimidating in rehearsals, would alternate between screaming and giving dancers the silent treatment, and pressured dancers to perform while injured. 

Earlier this week, Rojo responded to the claims in an article in the Evening Standard. In regards to her relationship with Hernández, Rojo states there's "not even a possibility" of conflict because "he has won all the awards you can possibly win, so there was nowhere I could promote him." She also mentioned they’ve never kept their relationship a secret, stating that "all I can say is that we've always been honest and I hoped there was no animosity towards us."

In terms of atmosphere, Rojo said that those accusations seemed unfounded, saying that even though dancers had left “we felt it was explicable because a lot of change had been going on. We didn't feel it was unnatural, that there was anything to be concerned about." 

Rojo also emphasized the importance she placed on her dancer’s health, citing things she did such as replacing the sprung floors in the studios, hiring a sports scientist, psychologist, and nutritionist. Rojo also claimed she increased physical therapy hours for the dancers. 

Read the full interview here.

photo: Tamara Rojo and Isaac Hernandez in Hans van Manen’s Adagio Hammerklavier. © Dave Morgan

Who's Behind Jennifer Lawrence's Red Sparrow Ballerina Role?

Red Sparrow

We all know and love Jennifer Lawrence; she’s extremely talented and uncommonly relatable as a human being. However, she just became cool on a whole other level. The Hollywood icon is the star of a brand new super cool spy movie called “Red Sparrow”, which opens this weekend. The best part, the dance world gets a shoutout!

In the movie, Lawrence’s character is a ballerina who turns spy. And don't worry - we know the dancing is going to be good, because it’s not actually Jennifer Lawrence dancing! While the young actress had to train hard and fast to become proficient enough for some of the filming, it’s really American Ballet Theater’s very own Isabella Boylston up on stage. The ABT Principal dancer was asked by choreographer Justin Peck to be Jen’s body double, and basically her dance stunt double. Boylston took the job, and it’s a good thing that she did. Because as much as we loved the dance routine in “Silver Linings Playbook,” ballet is not necessarily Miss Lawrence’s forte.

Red Sparrow - Jennifer Lawrence & Isabella Boylston
Red Sparrow - Jennifer Lawrence & Isabella Boylston

The movie will hit theaters this Friday, and it’s sure to bring in big crowds. And thankfully, ballet will be represented with exceptional beauty and strength with Boylston behind the camera. And kudos to Jennifer Lawrence - ballet is hard to learn in a lifetime, let alone a few months! Check out the trailer below, and please keep in mind that the film is rated R, and is deemed unsuitable for children and teenagers.