2015 Performance arts

It is a well-known fact that Belgians are not real theatre lovers. Dance is the less one loved, but spoken theatre has lost a lot of spectators too.

Some 250 theatre people – from directors to actors to stage hands – took to the sea at Ostend in August to protest cuts in subsidies recently approved by Flemish culture minister Sven Gatz.

Of the 129 groups that applied for subsidy and received a double-positive review from the advisory committee – one for their artistic project and one for their business plan – 79, or 61%, were going to receive no subsidy at all. Of a total €3.15 million in subsidies recommended by the committee, Gatz will pay out only €1.34 million.

In Cincinatti a new theatre opened on the West Side. Cincinnati Shakespeare announced it will also get a new theatre, too. Crowds packed Lumenocity for the third year in a row. ArtWorks painted its 100th mural. And the Cincinnati Symphony quietly raised $26 million for its endowment.

The 220-seat Warsaw Federal Incline Theater, a $6 million project, debuted in May in the Incline District in East Price Hill with “The Producers.” It is programmed year-round by Cincinnati Landmark Productions.

The nonprofit ArtWorks, which puts young artists to work during the summer painting outdoor murals, celebrated its 100th mural this summer. It also completed the ambitious CincyInk public art project, which included a crowd-sourced poem, tattoos and public art installations.

Cincinnati Art Museum, Eden Park.jpgCincinnati Art Museum expanded. The Art Museum has the most galleries – and artworks on view – ever in 2016. The institution has reopened the third-floor contemporary gallery and the Cincinnati Wing pre-Civil War galleries, antiquities and new first-floor galleries. Earlier this year, the museum opened the new Rosenthal Education Center.

Dancer Clifton Brown in a promotional poster for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater seems to be rejuvenated thanks to the effort of the new artistic director Robert Battle, who got his training in Miami from Daniel Lewis and Gerri Houlihan at the New World School of the Arts and at the Juilliard School in New York City, where the former Paul Taylor Dance Company star Carolyn Adams became his mentor.

Though Battle never met Ailey, he has actually expanded Ailey’s goal of providing a showcase for the works of African and African-American choreographers.

Dancers from across the country — from the American Ballet Theatre to Ballet San Jose, the Kansas City Ballet to the Dance Theatre of Harlem, the Nashville Ballet to Abraham.In.Motion, the San Francisco Ballet to a children’s studio in Hawaii — sent the HuffPost their reasons for taking the stage. They compiled their responses in a campaign, aptly titled #WhyIDance. The campaign is simple. Inspired by dance programs around the world like South Africa’s Dansazania project and Brazil’s House of Dreams, HuffPost asked dancers to complete the sentence “I dance because …” Each participant wrote his or her response on a piece of paper and posed for a camera holding each proud statement:

“I dance because it brings me joy, strength, and life!”

said the American ballet dancer for American Ballet Theatre (ABT) Misty Danielle Copeland.

“I love sharing a piece of my soul with the world through movement,”

said Kayla Rowser;

“I dance because I like to challenge my body to the limit,”

said Diego Cruz.

whyidance

Misty Danielle Copeland reprised the role of Princess Florine in The Sleeping Beauty at the Kennedy Center, choreographed by Ratmansky and had leads in ABT productions of The Firebird, La Fille Mal Gardee, Le Corsaire, The Golden Cockerel, Swan Lake and Romeo and Juliet.

She won a Shorty Award for Best in Dance in Social Media.

In the year that the lack of racial diversity in ballet was one of the dance world’s most-discussed issues the United States attention focused on the absence of African Americans and other women of colour from many of the country’s premier ballet companies. In April a special staging of Swan Lake at Washington, D.C.’s Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts highlighted that disparity.

For  only the Washington Ballet (TWB) brought together soloist Misty Copeland and  to dance the leads in ABT ballet master Kirk Peterson’s reconstruction of Swan Lake, featuring the choreography of Marius Petipa and his assistant Lev Ivanov.

Misty Copeland in Swan Lake [Credit: Julieta Cervantes—The New York Times/Redux]Under TWB’s artistic director, Septime Webre, casted two African Americans (only for two nights), American Ballet Theatre (ABT) Copeland, in the New York City debut in the role as Odette and bewitching as Odile, and TWB veteran Brooklyn Mack as Prince Siegfried, in the most revered of the “white ballets”. Encyclopedia Britannica remarked:

Although the moniker ballet blanc denotes the hue of the tutus worn in Swan Lake, Giselle, and La Bayadère, the term might just as well describe the apparent racial makeup of many ensembles that perform those works. Dancers of colour rarely are given the opportunity to appear in that repertoire, because they are often typecast in pieces that require extreme athleticism as opposed to classical lines. The exquisite dancing by Copeland and Mack, however, challenged such racial stereotypes.

Within the last decade many international companies have recruited Latin American and Spanish dancers, particularly men. Those artists have begun to change the complexion of ballet in Europe and the U.S. In addition to ABT, NYCB, and TWB, troupes with large numbers of foreign-born Hispanic dancers include Boston Ballet, Joffrey Ballet (Chicago), San Francisco Ballet, and the Royal Ballet (London). As part of TWB’s 40th season, in 2015 it launched Let’s Dance Together, an initiative that strives to develop future generations of racially diverse dancers and choreographers.

As best ballet dancers for 2015 were voted: Sylvie Guillem, Carlos Acosta, Sergei Polunin, Makhail Baryshnikov, Ivan Vasiliev, Natalia Osipova, Uliana Lopatkina, Olga Smirnova, Tamara Rojo, Alina Cojocaru, Edward Watson, Wendy Whelan.

Nicholas Le Riche was required by the Paris Opera Ballet to retire at the age of 42. Fortunately for admirers of his big-boned elegance and generous stage presence, Le Riche plans to continue to dance – like his compatriot and friend Sylvie Guillem and like Wendy Whelan – in more contemporary work.

48-year-old Whelan is already smitten by the completely different way of thinking and moving of contemporary dance. She felt oppressed by the diminishing number of new roles that were coming her way, and by the sense that she was always being compared, unfavourably, to her younger self.

“There is no comparison with how I was at 28, nor should there be,”

she said impatiently.

“I’m not as I was then, except that I do now have all this confidence, power and wisdom.” {Keep dancing: the ballet stars leaping through the age barrier}

52-year-old Alessandra Ferri missed dance so much she returned to the stage. Initially, she was drawn to contemporary dance theatre, performing in Martha Clarke’s adaptation of the Colette novel Chéri, and was then approached by Wayne McGregor, who asked her to dance the lead in his new ballet, Woolf Works which also featured a revelatory performance from 45-year-old Gary Avis, who as a character artist with the Royal had not done much actual dancing in years, until he was liberated back into pure movement by McGregor’s choreography.

In 2015 the could please me very much with very beautiful performances and several great dancers. More than once I was overwhelmed with a marvellous performance.

I was pleased to find my favourite candidate to end up as the most versatile Favourite of Flanders in one of the longest-running talent shows on Flemish television, So You Think you can dance which pairs dancers of wildly different backgrounds and gives them a week to master short choreographies across a spectrum of styles – from ballroom to Bollywood – to be performed during live shows. At the end of each episode, the dancer with the fewest audience votes is sent home.
Malik Mohammed, born in Nairobi, when 8th he settled in Boom, Antwerp, stumbled his way through high school and graduated with a degree as a CNC (computer numerical control) machine operator from the professional stream of PTS Boom.

“I can’t even remember what CNC stands for,”

he says,

“That’s how interested I was.”

The 22 years old student in AP University College’s sports-teacher training programme dabbled in different styles, wardrobes and eras in his 30-second solos he always could ” light up the stage” and carry us away in his creative world. He has rightly earned the €25,000 and a dance training of his choice. For sure this is a person to look out for in the future.

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Preceding

2015 Economy

2015 Technology and development

2015 Film

2015 Persons and groups of the year

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Additional reading:

Theatremakers take to the sea to protest subsidy cuts

Cincinnati’s arts made news in 2015

About Marcus Ampe

Retired dancer, choreographer, choreologist Founder of the Dance impresario office and archive: Danscontact-Dansarchief plus the Association for Bible scholars, the Lifestyle magazines "Stepping Toes" and "From Guestwriters" and creator of the site "Messiah for all". - Gepensioneerd danser, choreograaf, choreoloog. Stichter van Danscontact-Dansarchief plus van de Vereniging voor Bijbelvorsers, de Lifestyle magazines "Stepping Toes" en "From Guestwriters" en maker van de site "Messiah for all".
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