More From Inside/Out At Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival​

Marta Renzi & The Project Co at Inside/Out at Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival 2014

Marta Renzi & The Project Co at Inside/Out at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival 2014

by Christopher Duggan

It will be almost 10 months before dancers return and Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival 2015 kicks in. I love the Pillow so much and am filled with gratitude to have spent 9 summers there. I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to create pictures and make a contribution to this historic place.

Schoen Movement Company at Inside/Out at Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival 2014

Schoen Movement Company at Inside/Out at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival 2014

To me, nothing says “The Pillow” more than the Inside/Out stage. I spent the last few days of the festival working through more than 20,000 photos from the 2014 summer festival and wanted to share some highlights from this amazing dance space.

Laurie M Taylor/Soul Movement at Inside/Out at Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival 2014

Laurie M Taylor/Soul Movement at Inside/Out at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival 2014

I’ve said it before, but the Inside/Out stage is my favorite stage to photograph dance. It’s hugely challenging working with the available light, the crowd and making choices on where to shoot from. It keeps me on my toes. There’s never a perfect spot, only the perfect way to make a picture in the spot I’ve chosen.

Oui Danse at Inside/Out at Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival 2014

Oui Danse at Inside/Out at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival 2014

And more than just the dance on the stage, it’s the atmosphere, the trees, the sunlight, the patrons, the kids and everything put together that tells the story of Jacob’s Pillow in the Berkshires.

Emery Lecrone at Inside/Out at Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival 2014

Emery Lecrone at Inside/Out at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival 2014


Adam Weinert at Inside/Out at Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival 2014

Adam Weinert at Inside/Out at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival 2014


Contributor Christopher Duggan is a wedding and dance photographer in New York City, the Berkshires and beyond. Duggan has been the Festival Photographer for Jacob’s Pillow Dance since 2006. In this capacity, and as a respected New York-based dance photographer, he has worked with renowned choreographers and performers of international acclaim as well as upstarts in the city’s diverse performance scene.

Christopher Duggan, Photo by Julia NewmanHe photographs dancers in the studio and in performance, for promotional materials, portraits and press, and he often collaborates with his wife, Nel Shelby, and her Manhattan-based dance film and video editing company Nel Shelby Productions ( Together, they have documented dance at performances from New York City to Vail International Dance Festival.

Christopher Duggan Photography also covers the finest wedding venues in the Metropolitan and Tri-State areas, in Massachusetts and the Berkshires, and frequently travels to destination weddings.

His photographs appear in The New York Times, The Huffington Post, The Knot, Destination I Do, Photo District News, Boston Globe, Financial Times, Dance Magazine, and Munaluchi Bridal, among other esteemed publications and popular dance and wedding blogs. One of his images of Bruce Springsteen was added to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and his dance photography has been exhibited at The National Museum of Dance and Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival.

His Natural Light Studio ( at Jacob’s Pillow is his most ambitious photography project to date – check out his blog to see more portraits of dance artists in his pop-up photo studio on the Pillow grounds.


American Ballet Theatre Offers Chicago An “All American Celebration”

American Ballet Theatre dancing Bach Partita. Dancers: Polina Semionova and James Whiteside.  Photo by:  Gene Schiavone

American Ballet Theatre dancing Bach Partita. Dancers: Polina Semionova and James Whiteside. Photo by: Gene Schiavone

American Ballet Theatre is coming to Chicago for one weekend–October 3rd through the 5th. The company will be dancing Clark Tippet’s pas de deux, “Some Assembly Required,” “Fancy Free,” by Jerome Robbins and two works by Twyla Tharp’–“Back Partita” and “Sinatra Suite”. Artistic Director Kevin McKenzie put together this “All American Celebration” and it will take place at the Auditorium Theater of Roosevelt University.


Luciana Paris and Herman Cornejo in Sinatra Suite. Photo by Rosalie O’Connor

Artistic Director Kevin McKenzie

Sinatra Suite” consists of two dancers and five Sinatra songs–Strangers in the Night, All the Way, That’s Life, My Way, and One For My Baby (And One More for the Road). Misty Copeland and Marcelo Gomes along with Luciana Paris and James Whiteside will perform this work by Tharp during the Chicago engagement.

Clark Tippet‘s “Some Assembly Required” is also on the program for the evening. This pas de deux has been staged by the original cast (Amanda McKerrow and John Gardner) and is set to set to William Bolcom’s Second Sonata for violin and piano.

Another piece that will be performed is Tharp’s “Bach Partita,” which will feature live music, with violinist Charles Yang playing Bach’s Partita No. 2 in d minor for solo violin.

No “All American” program would feel complete without Jerome Robbins’ lighthearted “Fancy Free,” which was actually the first ballet he ever choreographed back in 1944. The audience tags along with three sailors on leave as they meet up with two girls in New York City. What could go wrong?

American Ballet Theatre

Herman Cornejo in Fancy Free. Photo by: Gene Schiavone

Artistic Director Kevin McKenzie
Artistic Director Kevin McKenzie
Artistic Director Kevin McKenzie”All American Celebration” will take place at the Auditorium Theater

This show is approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes long and it has two intermissions.



Freetoes Toeless Socks – Interview with Katelyn Lohr

Katelyn Lohr

Katelyn Lohr. Photograph by Douglas Homer.

4dancers wanted to share this interview with Katelyn Lohr, well…because we like her product. And, because we think it’s pretty cool that she founded a business based on an idea she had.

Read more about her story in this interview…

What Inspired Freetoes?

When I was eight, I wanted to wear my flip flops outside when it was cold out. My mom said I had to wear socks and shoes. So, I came to her with scissors and socks. It was my way of following the rules but still getting what I wanted!


How can Freetoes be helpful to dancers?

Dancers have been pulling their leg warmers down around their heels forever. Freetoes are great with leg warmers because they keep the leg warmers from sliding too far down, and they offer a little extra support. I also think they would be great for costumes during performances.

Freetoes give dancers the slip they need to move freely across the floor, but, because the toes are free, they also have that grip that is so important. Freetoes keep feet warm, keep heels from drying out on the wood floors, and can help make tights last a little longer.


Freetoes Pink 1

Freetoes Ballerina Pink. Photograph by Douglas Homer.

How can Freetoes be a fun part of your wardrobe in general?

Freetoes are so much fun! They come in so many funky colours and designs. They work with such a variety of footwear too. Everything from flip flops, riding boots, crocs, peekaboo toe boots, sandals, and Vibram barefoot sports shoes. They are fun and extremely practical.


 How many different patterns/colors of Freetoes do you offer?

We currently have 12 different colours and patterns in stock…we call them flavors! Variety is the spice of Freetoes. Something we learned early on in developing this product was that people wanted to buy more than one pair because we had such a wide variety of colours and designs. We like to carry some staple colors like Solid Black and Pink, but we get wild with patterns like Electric Zebra and Teal Blue Leopard!


Freetoes Stripes 2

Freetoes Electric Zebra. Photograph by Douglas Homer.

Do you have a favorite pattern/color?

It’s really hard to pick a fav because we are always getting new ones in. Right now, I would say Black and White Stripes, but I do wear the Solid Black and Pink ones most often.


Read more


Lindsay Nelko’s “Awakening” At Alvin Ailey Citigroup Theater

Lindsay Nelko’s “Awakening” (Promotional Video) from Nel Shelby on Vimeo.

by Nel Shelby

We were excited when Lindsay Nelko approached us for a promotional video showcasing her New York City production of “Awakening” at the Alvin Ailey Citigroup Theater! Lindsay is a young Canadian choreographer whose career is really starting to take off; you may have seen her on TV as a choreographer for So You Think You Can Dance. It’s always been a dream of hers to make a full length work and show it in NYC, and now that dream has come true!

Because Lindsay was only in New York City for a limited time, she was able to work with her dancers for just a few short weeks before the performance. We filmed some of those precious hours in the studio, and a few interviews with the dancers, to create something that would promote her upcoming show. Our team had only a few days to create and edit this promotional video so Lindsay could get it out into the world before the show and boost ticket sales.

It was a really fun project and her dancers looked incredible! Jessica Ray did a great job editing!

Contributor Nel Shelby, Founder and Principal of Nel Shelby Productions, is deeply dedicated to the preservation and promotion of dance through documentation of live performances, fully edited marketing reels, live-stream capture, and documentaries and films that encapsulate the essence of nonprofit organizations.

Nel Shelby, Photo by Matthew Murphy

Photo by Matthew Murphy

Her New York City-based video production company has grown to encompass a diverse list of dance clients including American Ballet Theater II, Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company, Gallim Dance, Gotham Arts, Kate Weare and Company, Keigwin + Company, Monica Bill Barnes Company, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Shen Wei Dance Arts, Wendy Whelan and many more. She has filmed performances at venues throughout the greater New York area including The Joyce Theater, New York Live Arts, Lincoln Center, Symphony Space, St. Mark’s Church and Judson Church, to name a few.

For nearly a decade, Nel has served as Festival Videographer for the internationally celebrated Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in the Berkshires. Each season at the Pillow, Nel’s responsibilities include documenting aspects of festival culture in addition to its 20 mainstage dance performances, filming and overseeing documentation of more than 100 free performances and events, managing two dance videography interns and an apprentice, and educating students about the technical and philosophical aspects of filming dance.

She also serves as Resident Videographer at the Vail International Dance Festival where she spent her first summer creating five short dance documentary films about the festival in addition to documenting its events and performances. Her longer-form, half-hour documentary on Vail’s festival, The Altitude of Dance, debuted on Rocky Mountain PBS in May 2013.

She has created four short films for Wendy Whelan’s Restless Creature, and she collaborated with Adam Barruch Dance to create a short film titled “Folie a Deux,” which was selected and screened at the Dance on Camera Festival in New York City and the San Francisco Dance Film Festival. She is making a dance documentary featuring Nejla Y. Yatkin, called Where Women Don’t Dance.

Nel has a long personal history with movement  – she has a B.A. in dance and is a certified Pilates instructor. She continues to train with world-renowned Master Teachers Romana Krysnowska and Sari Pace, original students of Joseph Pilates. In addition to her dance degree, Nel holds a B.S. in broadcast video. She often collaborates with her wonderful husband, dance photographer (and fellow 4dancers contributor) Christopher Duggan on creative projects with dancers in New York City and beyond. They live with their beautiful daughter Gracie and son Jack in Manhattan.


Jewels: A Multifaceted Ballet

Pacific Northwest Ballet

Pacific Northwest Ballet corps de ballet dancer Jessika Anspach backstage, prior to a performance of Diamonds, choreographed by George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust. Photo © Lindsay Thomas.

Today we are thrilled to welcome Pacific Northwest Ballet‘s Jessika Anspach McEliece to the site officially as a contributing writer. She’ll be writing about a variety of topics for us, starting with this post about George Balanchine’s “Jewels”, which the company will be performing, starting September 26th in Seattle.

by Jessika Anspach McEliece

It’s Tuesday but it feels like, um, I don’t know… not Tuesday. Coming back to work after a break always gives me that jet-lag feeling, no matter what time zone I’ve been in. PNB dancers are doing pirouettes across the grey marley floor of Studio C and between thinking about getting my foot immediately to passé and keeping my standing leg engaged, my rehearsal schedule for the day runs through the ticker tape of my brain. Confusion. Then holes. Then blanks.

I turn to the blonde girl with hyper-extension for days who’s patiently waiting her turn and ask, “Emma, do we have Rubies first or is it Emeralds?”

“I’m pretty sure we have Rubies 12-1 and Emeralds 1-2 but with the principal couple…” she replies. And yet I can tell that her ticker tape is following a similar pattern by her perplexed eyes.

“Oh yeah. That’s right… But I’m pretty sure Emeralds is only a half hour. I thought we had a break from 1:30 to 4, and finished with Diamonds. Is that just demi women or corps women too?” I reply.

“It’s demi and corps men and women. I think we’re piecing together the finale. Are you sure Emeralds is only a half hour?”

“Ha. I’m not sure of anything.”

Emeralds, Rubies and Diamonds – juggling these ballets can be a bit of a handful at first. Yes, Jewels is a full-length ballet. Yes, it has the same choreographer – the genius George Balanchine. All the costumes are designed by the same woman – the fabulous Karinska, and thankfully there’s not a single hair change during the performance… I think. But that’s about it when it comes to continuity.

No two stones are alike, and that is most definitely true of Jewels. Like any beautiful gem, we see the many facets of Mr. Balanchine’s choreographic prowess.

George Balanchine's Emeralds

Pacific Northwest Ballet company dancers in Emeralds, choreographed by George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust. Photo © Angela Sterling.


In Emeralds, set to the very French and very impressionistic music of Gabriel Faure, the movement is soft, yet sweeping. The curtain opens to a sea of emerald green: a principal couple dancing amid ten corps ladies who bourrée from one formation to the next, rarely coming off pointe. The effect: a floating, almost shimmering quality–like lily pads glistening on a glassy pond in one of Monet’s landscapes.

Read more


CD Review: Reimagined For Ballet Class: Pop Volume Two

Reimagined For Ballet Class: Pop Volume Two
Andrew Holdsworth

by Emily Kate Long


When REM and RAD collide, you get a mashup like Reimagined For Ballet Class: Pop Volume Two. In this 2014 release by British composer Andrew Holdsworth, many of the pop tunes (Beyonce’s “Crazy In Love” or David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance”) are so well disguised they almost disappear—a plus for a pop-themed ballet CD, where too-obvious melodies can easily overwhelm. That isn’t to say most songs don’t jump right out, but more than many pop CDs I’ve encountered, Holdsworth’s keeps the music functional for a ballet class setting. I also found humor here—nobody would mistake Katy Perry for Strauss in the “California Gurls” waltz, but the transformation in style for this and other tracks is pretty tongue-in-cheek.

In terms of content, the disc has music for a full ballet class, plus longer versions of the allegro tracks and some samples from Holdsworth’s Classical series. The tempi are well-suited for an intermediate to advanced-level class. If you’re looking for a pop-meets-ballet CD, this is one of the better selections out there.


Joffrey Ballet – Stories In Motion

Joffrey Ballet

The Joffrey in RAkU, Christine Rocas & Miguel Blanco, Photo by Cheryl Mann

This Thursday the Joffrey will be performing Stories In Motion at Chicago’s Auditorium Theatre. The program features three ballets, one of which is a Chicago premiere.

First up will be Balanchine’s Prodigal Son, which hasn’t been danced by the company since 2000. Based on a well-known biblical tale, this ballet is a visual treat to watch. Artistic Director Ashley Wheater will be performing the role of Father, and he talks about the reason these three ballets were chosen on j-Pointe, Joffrey’s blog.

The company was able to call on the considerable expertise of Edward Villella to coach the dancers during rehearsal. Take a look at some of the footage here:

Antony Tudor’s Lilac Garden is next on the program. It has been called his first “psychological ballet”, telling the story of an arranged marriage and lost love. Set in Victorian times, the music is Chausson’s Poeme for violin and orchestra and Senior Répétiteur Donald Mahler worked with the dancers to help them fine-tune this ballet.

The final offering is the Chicago premiere of Yuri Possokhov’s RAkU. The storyline of this contemporary ballet follows a Japanese emperor, his princess, and an obsessive Buddhist monk. Here’s a video of the Joffrey dancers working on the ballet in rehearsal:

Stories in Motion opens Thursday, September 15th and runs through the 21st.

dance class music
Behind Barres

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