Friday, October 10, 2014

Misty Copeland Meets APM's Marketplace

Misty Copeland is everywhere these days.

Seriously, it seems that every time you turn around, the American Ballet Theatre soloist is being interviewed on TV or in some magazine or newspaper. She has a hefty endorsement deal with Under Armour. She’s a spokesperson for the Boys and Girls Clubs of America and has done ads and commercials for everyone from Diet Dr. Pepper to Blackberry.

Now she can carve a new notch into that belt of hers: panelist on Marketplace, American Public Media’s internationally syndicated radio show about all things business-related. (Here in Greater Cincinnati, the show is heard four times every weekday on WVXU, 91.7 FM.)

Next Thursday – October 16 – host Kai Ryssdal and much of Marketplace’s Los Angeles-based on-air team will present a one-night-only stage production in New York City to celebrate the show’s 25th anniversary.

As part of the show, they’ve convened a celebrity panel to discuss creativity and innovation. Front and center, of course, will be Copeland, along with actor Hank Azaria, author/screenwriter Delia Ephron and Kickstarter co-founder and CEO Yancey Strickler.

For those with even the slightest interest in dance history, the show’s venue – Kaufmann Concert Hall in the 92nd Street Y – is one of the most significant in the history of American dance. The Y's Harkness Dance Center opened in 1935 with a performance that featured Martha Graham, Doris Humphrey, Charles Weidman and Hanya Holm.

In the course of the next 40 years, Y concerts featured a who’s who of American dance; Pearl Primus, Ted Shawn, Jerome Robbins, Talley Beatty and dozens of others. It hosted the premieres of Alvin Ailey’s Revelations, Anna Sokolow’s Rooms, Donald McKayle’s Rainbow ‘Round My Shoulder and Jose Limon’s Moor’s Pavane, as well as a 1954 performance by Robert Joffrey’s then-new ballet company, George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein's Dance Caravan, a rare east coast performance by Lester Horton’s California-based company and the 1952 debut of Pearl Lang’s dance group.

Misty Copeland will be in far better company than she may be aware of.

If you happen to be in New York next week, tickets are $30-$75 and available at 212-415-5500 or

Photo: Misty Copeland as Gamzatti in La Bayadere, by Rosalie O'Connor.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Sarah Hairston

It was just about a year ago when one of America’s greatest-ever ballerinas, Cynthia Gregory, came to coach Cincinnati Ballet’s leading dancers in preparation for the company's  co-production of Swan Lake with BalletMet Columbus.

Photographer Jennifer Denham, who regularly photographs studio rehearsals for the company, stopped by one day to catch the action.

This remarkable photo of principal dancer Sarah Hairston with senior soloist Romel Frometa was taken during that rehearsal. Clearly, the pair were already well on their way to the memorable performances they would give in the leading roles of Odette/Odile and Siegfried.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

ConverseNation - Pones. Inc.

For Pones Inc. it’s never enough to just make a dance.

They do dance, mind you. But these performers are as committed to probing social issues as they are demonstrating their virtuoso chops as dancers.

During last summer’s Cincinnati Fringe Festival, for instance, they created a dark and disturbing work called Traffick that focused on human trafficking.

Now, Pones is back with ConverseNation, which explores the “dynamics of wealth and poverty in Cincinnati,” according to Kim Popa, the group’s co-founder and executive director.

“This is actually a piece that we took to Italy in August,” says Popa. “It was performed as part of the CrisisART Festival in Arezzo. But we always knew that we want to remount the piece and perform it here.”

On the one hand, it’s a walking tour of Over the Rhine. But other than its starting and ending points – Washington Park and the Arts Academy – this is not a sightseer’s tour of OTR hot spots.

There are no hot dogs at Senate or doughnuts at Holtman’s. Rather, this is a trip to out-of-the-way  places – a tiny park at Race and 14th, “the big green building next to Kroger’s” on Vine Street, a nondescript spot on Republic Street, where the 14 dancers will perform a brief collaborative work with Queen City Flash, the theater group responsible for last summer’s The Complete Tom: 1 Adventures.

There are live musicians, too, and videos documenting the more than 30 interviews company members did with OTR residents.

While ConverseNation is all about wealth and poverty, though, Popa is determined not to politicize the material.

“The goal isn’t to ostracize people,” says Popa. “We don’t want to villainize the wealthy and glorify poverty. That happens a lot.”

But there is a measure of inequality and injustice that live side by side in OTR. And it is that that Popa wanted to explore.

“In one case, we interviewed a woman living in extreme poverty. And then the next person we spoke to was a woman living in a dream house – a beautiful, pristine townhouse next door. They’re right next to each other.”

Even so, Popa is adamant that Pones isn’t taking sides.

“There really isn’t a simple answer. If there were, someone would have come up with it long before now. We don’t have the answers. We just want to make sure that people have the conversation.”

Performances: 7-8:30 p.m. Friday-Sunday, Oct. 10-12.

Tickets: $12. Make reservations here, then pay at the show with cash, check or credit card.