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What's the dance capital of the world?

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I can't speak on any other cities, but I'd venture to say Moscow or St. Petersburg. For no other reason than it seems like it's stable.

I think when companies started leaving NY (like Joffrey) it was a statement that you don't *have* to do it in NY.

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I remember once going to see the film about the Moscow dance competition in New York, and it begins by a narrator saying, "Welcome to Moscow, the dance capital or the world," and the audience roared. I thought at the time that if there were a simliar film about the American dance scene that began, "Welcome to New York, the dance capital of the world," there may well be a similar reaction by Muscovites.

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I don't think New York is the dance capital of the world, but it is a very good place to see ballet as many companies come through town during the year. I remember one year, I saw about 5-6 ballet companies in addition to the local companies (ABT, NYCB, DTH, NYTB) in about a 15-month span. In addition, visits to PB and BB are easy day trips. And if we're talking about dance, well there are a ton of things to see every night.

However, I think Calliope is right, the Joffrey leaving (they haven't come back for a visit too many times, either), was a major blow, in addition to the death of Balanchine. Now (and maybe it always was, considering the resident's love of ballet), it is St. Petersburg, with its consistent season, plus its Mariinsky ballet and White Nights festivals. My only quible is, who often does the main company perform at home? They are always on the road. It might be a little dispiriting to only see the "B" company, while the top players are away.

Things are definitely decentralized. A major dance event might happen anywhere - one of the most important events in the past few years occurred at Cincinnati Ballet last October, with the reconstruction of parts of Ashton's Devil's Holiday and Massine's Seventh Symphony. And we don't have The Great Choreographer anymore, so there is not one place where great ballets are being made. Even if you look to people like Ratmansky or Wheeldon, they work all over.

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I wonder if there IS a dance capital right now? There were two ways of looking at dance capitals. One was that the center of BALLET was home to the company where provincial teachers sent their best students to be polished. Is there such a place now? One hears more about students being de-polished :D It was also the place where a dancer needed to go to be seen, the place where the leading critics -- the most knowledgeable, traveled and persnickety critics -- wrote. Is there such a place now?

The other definition was a city that had the most and the best dance of all types -- and New York definitely fit that bill for a good time. About 20 years ago, people started noticing that the modern dance scene was being squeezed out -- you couldn't go to New York and starve in a garret and make dance any more. Tharp started presenting her works out of town. Studios closed.

The center has always been where the great choreographer/company was; stars came to it. So, to follow on Dale's last point, when the next Great Choreographer settles in, the center will build up around him or her.

Any nominations for today's dance capital -- or ballet capital, because it's possible to have two separate ones.

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I nominate St. Petersburg as the ballet capital and perhaps New York as the dance capital. But how about London? That's certainly a place to see good ballet.

Dale, did you really mean that PNB is an easy day trip from NYC? It seems like Seattle is rather a long way to go for a day trip ;).

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There is a VERY interesting article in TIME magazine this week on regional theater. One thing it says is that often the theater is better outside of New York --- due to the heavy financial pressures constraining the shows in NYC.

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interesting thread, which i have only just looked in on. and i appreciate alexandra attempting to more clearly define the terms - that is essential.

i don't know the answer, but would STILL incline toward london or NY.

i am inclined to agree that, at present, a major event can happen anywhere.

i certainly don't think THE capital can be anywhere in russia, though. sorry!

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I'd missed citibob's post -- I think that's a good point. In the early 1980s, the same was said about modern dance. The most interesting stuff was going on in colleges because no one could afford to live/work in New York. I think while this dilutes New York, it doesn't mean that Somewhere Else is the capital, because there has to be a lot of first-rate art -- all kinds of it, at the museum level and at the working level, and lots and lots of arts consumers to make a capital. And that's why New York and London and Paris are capitals. Otherwise, you have artist's colonies, or something piquantly unique -- a city with three fine theaters.

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Not to distract from the original intent of this thread but I would have to nominate "http://www.balletalert.com/forum" as the ballet capitol of the world (actually the title does ask "what" not "where" is this capitol) :P.


[*]The best students come here to be polished.

[*]The place where the leading critics -- the most knowledgeable, traveled and persnickety critics -- write.

[*]Where the great choreographer/company is. (the "company" is certainly great and who knows which great choreographers are lurking out there)

[*]Stars come to visit.

[*]We host "Major" events everyday. (sorry Mr. Mel, afterall...Peoria...politics :P )

[*]All this and more without the cost of living in NYC, London, Paris, St. Petersburg, or Moscow (or Peoria)!

[*]Of course there is the problem of no live performances...but I'm sure Alexandra will put that newly discovered budget surplus to work by adding live audio and video capabilities :D.


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Guest Kaitlin

My dad's old boss lives in Peoria! LoL! I've been there!:) Hehe...anyways...

I don't think you can label any city the dance capital of the world...at least not right now. Cities have certain styles to them, you can't put them all together and pull out the best (or the dance capital for that matter) because they are all different. Certainly some have more major companies, and are more well known, but that's not to say that dance isn't just as present in other cities. Am I making sense? Probably not...I try...

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Thanks, Kaitlin -- yes, it makes perfect sense :) I think in a way that's what Mel meant when he said "Peoria" -- it was a way of saying it's nowhere/anywhere. (I'm sure Mel will correct me if I've misinterpreted him.)

And another interesting distinction -- is there a difference between dance CENTER and dance CAPITAL? I think "capital" implies a leadership position, the way Paris is in fashion -- debatable, I know, since there are those who'd say New York and Milan are also fashion "capitals". But a capital is where people go to get ideas, I think. (I have to say, I'm not sure New York can claim that now -- now, as in right this minute -- although I think it's still the place where dancers have to go to get noticed, to get in the record books as "international dancer" or "world's best company.")

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