DVD Review: La Bayadere – The Bolshoi Ballet

blu_bay_bolby Emily Kate Long

The impressive sets and exquisite costumes for Yuri Grigorovich’s staging of La Bayadere primed me to be blown away by the whole production. It’s superbly danced, but some just-missed dramatic moments left me wanting more at the final curtain.

In scale and technical execution, the ballet is outstanding, as should be expected from one of the world’s top companies. Parades of dancers with scarves, fans, drums, birds, and water jugs fill the first two acts in strings of divertissements celebrating the engagement of Gamzatti (Maria Alexandrova) and Solor (Vladislav Lantratov). When the High Brahmin reveals Solor’s involvement with Nikiya, a temple dancer (Svetlana Zakharova), Gamzatti vows to seek revenge. After Nikiya’s death by snakebite, Solor falls into an opium dream in which Nikiya is multiplied by thirty-five shadows. His guilt and despair remain unresolved as the curtain closes on the third act.

Few companies display character dances as energetic as the Bolshoi, and those in Bayadere are no exception. The drum dance is a highlight of the Act 2 variations. The dances for the bridal attendants look crisp and fresh. Soloists in all three acts excel dancing to tempi that bit excitingly at their heels.

As Gamzatti, Alexandrova commands the palace scenes. She’s a haughty woman, fully in control of her body, her kingdom, and her future. Her rage toward Nikiya is unsettling, lending suspense to her forced composure as the Bayadere dances. Lantratov’s Solor seems youthful in comparison to her power.

Zakharova’s extreme flexibility is hypnotizing, but her Nikiya is frequently unreadable. She really opens up in a solo in Act 2, dancing a plea to the gods accompanied by a lone cello. Her prayer is in vain; after an inconvenient dance with a basket of flowers, a snake hidden inside the basket bites her fatally. In this version, Gamzatti is never implicated. Who would dare accuse Alexandrova?

After the extravagance of the first two acts, I looked forward to the simplicity of the Kingdom of the Shades. The Shades’ entrance—32 white tutus , one arabesque after another, snaking down a three-tiered ramp to assemble in a wispy, reverent block—is worth the wait. There’s nothing flat or tedious here, just a dreamy treat for the eyes and ears.

The highlight for Zakharova and Lantratov’s chemistry is her scarf solo in Act 3. It says as much about Solor as Nikiya; her sensitive footwork and phrasing make her no more or less than an extension of the opium smoke that brought about his delirium. I wanted that connection to continue through the end. The rest of the dance-mime in the act is beautifully musical but lacks candor.

If the purpose of remounting the classics is to transport the viewer to the past, the Bolshoi’s production does so. This performance is expertly danced, though it raises few questions about the principal characters.


Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival 2014 – Opening Week With The Hong Kong Ballet & Carmen De Lavallade


by Christopher Duggan

It’s been a glorious first week back at Jacob’s Pillow in every way. Fantastic dance, beautiful sunshine and lots of making pictures. I wait all year for this and it’s finally here.

This year was my first time photographing the Pillow’s Gala in many years. It was fun to be a part of all the season opening festivities again.


My friend John Heginbotham received the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award given to visionary artists for their creativity.

The amazing Carmen De Lavallade danced with the back barn doors of the Ted Shawn Theatre open, in my mind symbolizing the opening of the festival’s doors for all to come this summer.

A few of my Inside/Out images were included in the Gala’s silent auction, and though the auction is not officially over, I’m honored to say it looks like my dance photography brought in a few thousand dollars!

The Hong Kong Ballet is a stunning and exciting company. So many dancers. Impeccable technique. Really fun to photograph. The company only did one dance in costume for our photo call together, but it was plenty for me. I’m so glad these strong ballet dancers are opening the festival.


It’s hard to describe photographing Ms. De Lavallade. She has such grace and dignity. She raises the bar just by walking into the room. Her show is poignant and funny, and it’s just a treat to watch such a high level of performance coming from a woman who has more than six decades of experience onstage. She holds the distinction of the longest Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival performing career on record, and made her Pillow debut with Lester Horton Dance Theatre in 1953. Just out of this world.


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 Newman

Christopher Duggan, Photo by Julia Newman

He 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 (nelshelby.com). 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 (http://www.christopherduggan.com/portfolio/natural-light-studio-jacobs-pillow-photography/) 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.


Boston Ballet’s Lauren Herfindahl

Boston Ballet

Lauren Herfindahl dancing in Boston Ballet’s Symphony in Three Movements ©The George Balanchine Trust. Photo by Gene Schiavone

Today we’d like to welcome Lauren Herfindahl to 4dancers. Lauren is a dancer with Boston Ballet, and she was kind enough to talk with us about preparing for her roles in the company’s upcoming engagement at Lincoln Center


Can you tell readers a little about your background in dance and how you wound up dancing at Boston Ballet? I started ballet at a very young age after my mother noticed my strong interest and desire to move and express myself to music. I loved putting on mini dance performances for friends and family members, so you could say I always had an innate passion to be a performer. My family and I moved to the Boston area from the West Coast when I was eight and my mother enrolled me in Boston Ballet School. I studied at the school for 7 years before getting an offer to join Boston Ballet II. I grew up watching Boston Ballet and performed many children’s roles in large productions, including six years of children’s roles in The Nutcracker, so it was a dream come true to be offered a job with my home company. It is now only a week away from the end of my first season as a Corps de Ballet member!

This is Boston Ballet’s 50th season and it will be the first time they have performed at New York’s Lincoln Center. What is it like to be a part of this historic event?

It is truly an honor to be able to be a part of such an amazing company. Even from my ten years of watching and now dancing with the company, I have seen it grow into a sensational organization filled with so many amazing artists! To be able to bring this to a new audience is a great opportunity, especially to perform at Lincoln Center. I have learned a lot about the history of Boston Ballet this year, and without George Balanchine and the Ford Foundation, Boston Ballet might not be what it is today, so it seems fitting that we are now closing such a historic season in New York City.

Would you talk a bit about this performance series and the role(s) you will be dancing in New York? What has been the biggest challenge for you personally in preparing for it?

Read more


Dancer Turned Designer – Taylor Morgan’s Story

For a long time now I’ve been thinking about what dancers do when they don’t dance anymore. Many of move on to related careers in the field, such as teaching, managing a studio or administrative positions. But those aren’t the only options available…

4dancers will be sharing some stories here on the site about people who have changed careers within–and outside of–our field. Some will be starting on a second career after a long career as a dancer. Others will find the skills they have learned in dance will open doors for them in a myriad of different ways. We’ll tell some of those stories, and we’ll also share information about organizations that exist to help dancers make these transitions.

Today we have a young lady with us who found a way to blend her two loves – dance and design. She has done both, but now intends to mix the two and use her skill set to create clothing for dancers. Here’s her story, along with a link to her Kickstarter campaign, should you feel inclined to help her out…

Stay tuned for more stories in this new series.



Hi, I am Taylor Morgan. I have lived two lives. My first life ended when I was about 20 years old, but that’s when my second life began. Am I talking about reincarnation? No, I am talking about my two greatest passions, dance and design, & they are held together by one common thread: attention to detail. Let me explain…

I am a fashion designer in New York City. I graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology (F.I.T.), one of the most prestigious colleges for fashion design in the nation, and I now work for Tommy Hilfiger as a designer for the men’s woven division. I am not trying to brag. In fact, I am trying to give credit to where it is due… DANCE, my very first love and my “first” life!

Taylor Morgan

Taylor Morgan

You see, I grew up dancing. My little baby body literally grew in my mother’s womb as she taught dance. She owned a thriving dance studio & also started the Phoenix Suns dance team in 1990, 2 years after I was born. Growing up, I had 3 activities to choose from; 1) Dance 2) Watch a dance class 3) Sleep or eat. Lucky for me, I love dance! I trained in all styles, but lyrical emerged as my favorite.

My dream to be a professional dancer was realized shortly after high school, when I moved to L.A. Represented by MSA, I was able to make a living doing what I love for 2 years. I was in a Miley Cyrus music video, I was flown to Las Vegas to dance in Nike’s huge convention, and booked several other memorable dance gigs. It was a dream come true, but at the same time I had an itch that was growing stronger day by day.

That itch started while watching the movie Parent Trap, with Lindsay Lohan, as a 10 year old. The mother, played by Natasha Richardson, was a famous wedding dress designer in London. It looked like such a beautiful life, and from that point on I started to sketch dresses for fun, imagining I was a fashion designer. It wasn’t until I was 19 years old that I realized I truly wanted to scratch the itch for good! I enrolled into fashion school and the rest was history.

How was I able to make the transition from dancing 24/7 to designing clothes? What skills from my dance life could help me in my design life? Well I’ll tell you. Dance taught me from an early age to pay attention to the details. A ballerina can go from mush to magnificence with a few tweaks to the details. Small changes can make a huge difference. It’s not about how high you leap, but how your feet are pointed. It’s not about how fast you turn, but how your hands are positioned, even down to the smallest finger.

In the fashion world, something as small as the type of stitch used, where a seam is placed, or how far the buttons are spaced apart can make or break a design. Again, small choices can have huge effects, for good or for bad, so you must always pay attention to them closely. By paying attention to the details, you will stand out from the crowd as a dancer or anything else you might want to do.

I said earlier that my first life of dance ended when I was about 20 years old. For anyone that is a true dancer, you are probably thinking to yourself, “That is not possible!” Well you are absolutely correct! Once a dancer, always a dancer! No matter what I do, it always sucks me back in! So I am now answering its call and now that I am a fashion designer in NYC, I have decided to start a dancewear company called Cove!

Knowing the proper techniques to construct clothes and also understanding the issues dancers deal with as they dance; I wanted to create a dancewear brand that combines function, comfort, and style to help dancers reach their full potential! You can find out more about Cove and help us get started by supporting out Kickstarter campaign. You can also follow us on instagram @covewearnyc.

Remember to train hard & pay attention to the details, and you will succeed in anything you do!


If think you or someone you know should be featured in this new series, please send us an e-mail at info (at) 4dancers (dot) org.


Book Review: Anna Pavlova Twentieth Century Ballerina

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Anna Pavlova Twentieth Century Ballerina, Jane Pritchard with Caroline Hamilton, Published by Booth-Clibborn Editions


by Emily Kate Long

Originally published in 2012 to mark the centenary of Pavlova’s move to Ivy House in London, Anna Pavlova Twentieth Century Ballerina* was expanded and revised in 2013. The latest edition is a beautifully arranged coffee-table book with over 150 images of Pavlova in performance and offstage.

Screen shot 2014-06-16 at 12.16.19 PMThe book focuses mostly on Pavlova’s career outside Russia. As a career history, the book is exhaustive in detail, with chapters covering Pavlova’s arrival in Europe, her acquisition of Ivy House, the formation of her own company, and her international tours. The final pages contain an index of Pavlova’s performances in Britain from 1910 to 1930.

Authors Jane Pritchard and Caroline Hamilton emphasize Pavlova’s role as a pioneer of dance in Britain and abroad in a way that was complementary to but very different from the role of Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. The latter presented impactful, avant-garde, cross-disciplinary performances. Pavlova’s influence, the authors argue, was hard-won and widespread and reached straight into the hearts of her audiences the world over. By venturing to cities and venues where ballet had never been seen, and by assembling shorter, divertissement-centered or variety programs, Pavlova the businesswoman made classical dance accessible to the public. By making herself and her dances accessible, she became an enduring cultural icon.

Anna Pavlova Twentieth Century Ballerina does not read like a biography. There’s only a brief paragraph on the inside jacket to introduce the text. It’s the images that speak most. Posed and candid offstage shots of Pavlova capture her elegance and mystery. Performance photographs give the reader glimpses of the Pavlova ballet-goers fell in love with. Programs, posters, and advertisements illustrate her star power.

Jane Pritchard is the curator of dance for London’s Victoria and Albert Museum. Together she and freelance costume historian Caroline Hamilton paint a thorough picture of Pavlova’s career and legacy as a legendary artist and an incomparable, inimitable woman of the world.

*Royalties from the sale of the book will go towards the student scholarship program at The Royal Ballet School in London.
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