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Interview: Why NYCB's Russell Janzen Is Taking On Gender-Bending Side Projects

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Marina Harss interviewed Russell Janzen for "Dance Magazine," and, being past middle age, it's a remarkable conversation for me to see in "Dance Magazine," with a lot more shades to the issues of gender roles and the room for fluidity in ballet that he's taken out of the studio and off the stage into writing, research, and presenting at a conference.  No "Just dance, dear" for Janzen:  :thanks:.

It's also interesting to me that he hopes that Mark Morris will choreograph for NYCB now that management has changed: when I read this:


These conversations made me even more aware of how much I bought into the constructs of ballet. When I talked to James Whiteside about dancing full-length story ballets, he said, "I feel like I have to act, not only the part of Romeo or the prince, but also the part of the straight man."

I immediately thought of Mark Morris saying back in the day that, having danced in ballet companies, he was tired of pretending to be the Prince in love with the woman.

Also, to bring things in a circle, in James Whiteside's latest podcast episode with Mark Morris, Morris commented about the orchestra and dancers having too little time, and given how important music is to Morris, I'm not sure Janzen's hope will materialize, although, perhaps an outside project?

I also didn't know that Reid Barthelme was still dancing:  I thought he was designing full time, so it was great to read that news and see the photo of them together.

Just so that it's not lost, he hit me where I live when he said,


Part of what interests me about Adam Lüders, who originated the role I dance in Davidsbündlertänze, is that Lüders and Peter Martins were dancing at the same time but had such different presences onstage. Adam somehow was doing the same thing that his partners were doing, emotionally. And he was still serving the function that the man in ballet is supposed to serve. That's something that I would love to be able to do.

because I could never articulate what made Luders so compelling to me, whether in Davidsbundlertanze or in the Act II PDD in A Midsummer Night's Dream or in the Beethoven PDD that Martins made to feature Kyra Nichols (and was broadcast on PBS with others Martins works).

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What an interesting interview! Thanks for the link.

The Center for Ballet and the Arts is not far from my apartment; occasionally, someone will pull up the shades on the street-level studio's big windows and you can see what's going on in there. I report with some disappointment that I witnessed neither Spock ears nor prosthetic breasts the last time I happened by and stopped to gawk.

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