IN THE NEWS
Chicago Shakespeare Theater Announces Tickets On Sale Now For ILLINOISE
A new kind of musical based on Sufjan Stevens' acclaimed concept album. A genre-bursting theatrical event, January 28– February 18. Adriana Pierce is Associate Director/Choreographer
Hamptons Dance Project: ABT’s Jose Sebastian Grows a Ballet Festival
Flash forward to 2023, and the mother-and-son duo are now gearing up to present their fifth season of Hamptons Dance Project, with Jose as artistic director and Pat as producer. The annual summer dance festival features artists from ABT and this year takes place on a picturesque 20-acre farm in East Hampton, New York. The 2023 HDP runs August 18–20 and includes world premieres by Gregory Dolbashian, Gemma Bond, and Adriana Pierce; a work by Melanie Hamrick; excerpts from The Sleeping Beauty, Giselle, and Justin Peck’s Year of the Rabbit; a guest performance by tap group Music From The Sole; and a new version of Jorma Elo’s Glow-Stop, reworked and titled Glow by Glow for HDP. The cast includes ABT principals Aran Bell, Catherine Hurlin, and Joo Won Ahn; soloist Chloe Misseldine; and corps members Erica Lall, Tyler Maloney, Carlos Gonzalez, Lauren Bonfiglio, Sierra Armstrong, and Kento Sumitani.
6 LGBTQ+ Artists Who Work in Traditionally Binary Dance Forms—Ballet, Ballroom, Irish Dance—Share Their Experiences
“Is Adriana a lesbian? Because she looks like one.” Adriana Pierce was 21 years old and had recently joined Miami City Ballet when she heard secondhand that one of the male principals had asked another dancer that question. Though she had come out while a teenaged student at School of American Ballet and was, to her knowledge, the first woman to be openly queer while dancing with New York City Ballet, “that comment set off a huge breakdown for me,” she remembers. “I was constantly afraid that something about the way I danced would give me away to the audience. Women in ballet are supposed to be small and quiet and look like the rest. It was so destabilizing to leave the deepest, most beautiful parts of myself, the potential of myself as a whole individual, in this little shabby box outside of the studio.”
Making Space for Queer Stories on Ballet’s Main Stages
However, almost in spite of itself, the ballet world has begun to change. Major ballet companies are slowly but increasingly showcasing pieces featuring queer stories and themes.
“Two Slow Dancers,” Choreographed by Adriana Pierce
“Two Slow Dancers,” a film by Ellie Gravitte, “follows two lovers who, despite their dreaming, can’t seem to find their way back to one another,” says Gravitte. Her recent collaboration with choreographer Adriana Pierce, one of Dance Magazine’s 2022 “25 to Watch,” features American Ballet Theatre dancers Remy Young and Sierra Armstrong in a narrative of love and loss as they dance both apart and as partners oscillating between locations like Times Square and New York City parks.
Why we all need more Lesbian Dance Theory
Take Adriana Pierce’s choreography for Daphne Willis’s pop ballad, “I Am Enough” featuring New York City Ballet’s Georgia Pazcoguin and Broadway dancer Skye Mattox. Pierce places the dancers on either side of a suspended tangle of leather ropes and straps that serves as both a permeable barrier and visual bars separating the two women. Pazcoguin watches as Mattox arabesques. They dance for each other until Mattox reaches out her hand through the tangle of ropes to make contact with Pazcoguin. They are kept apart until the second verse of the song. In the second verse of the song the dancers perform a series of turns, spinning away from the tangle of ropes and straps and into each other’s arms. They partner, following the curve of the other woman’s twisting torso with their arms, embracing, and then joining together in synchronized arabesques and pirouettes, but the classical ballet vocabulary breaks down after the song’s bridge for the final chorus as Mattox presses Pazcoguin’s hands to her heart before Pazcougin goes in for a real and passionate kiss. After all the balletic performing of passion and intimacy, the gestures of love forbidden/blocked, the metaphoric spinning out and away from the tangled ropes, the two women do something rarely done in ballet. They stop doing ballet and kiss: necks craning, backs arching, shoulders rising, hands grasping faces. In that moment this piece of Lesbian Dance Art embraces and blasts open the conventions of ballet.
Identity Embraced - #QueerTheBallet at Chelsea Factory
During the artist talkback after #QueerTheBallet’s April 5th show, as part of the Joyce Theater’s season at the new Chelsea Factory, artistic director Adriana Pierce proposed a thought exercise: consider the gendered nature of the pointe shoe, particularly in reference to partnering. The person not on pointe is able to be more grounded, and that stability and connection to the floor necessarily confers agency to that dancer. That agency is then often utilized in an unequal relationship with the dancer in pointe shoes, who has less friction with the floor and is set up best to be manipulated (turned, lifted, swooped) by their more grounded partner. Regardless of narrative or stage direction, Pierce warned of the power dynamics embedded in the physics of ballet. She then posed a question: Are we comfortable with this person [without agency] always being a woman?
POINTE MAGAZINE Meet the Ballet Dancers, Choreographers and Companies from Dance Magazine’s 2022 “25 to Watch”
Our friends at Dance Magazine announced their annual “25 to Watch” list earlier this week. The round-up features emerging dancers, choreographers and companies you should know, spanning multiple dance genres. And, of course, we can’t help but feel excited about those from the ballet world. Read on to learn more about them, then be sure to read the full “25 to Watch” list here.
Introducing Our 2022 “25 to Watch”
Adriana Pierce’s career thus far looks like a jack-of-all-trades, master-of-many laundry list of dream gigs: dancing in Miami City Ballet, the 2018 Broadway revival of Carousel, FX’s “Fosse/Verdon” and the new West Side Story movie, plus choreographic opportunities that continue to grow in scale.
The New Yorker: Goings On About Town #QueertheBallet
Led by the choreographer Adriana Pierce, #QueertheBallet is an initiative focussed on expanding the representation of queer women and nonbinary dancers in ballet. Pierce’s five-minute film “Animals & Angels”—which is available for free, June 21-July 18, on the Joyce Theatre’s Web site—is a velvet revolution, a gentle charmer of a kind that should be more common. To a folk-pop love song by Joy Oladokun, two Black queer ballerinas, the radiant Audrey Malek and Cortney Taylor Key, dressed in casual clothes and pointe shoes, dance the first steps of intimacy. It looks like the start of something good.
Animals & Angels- A new pas de deux from #Queertheballet
“Animals & Angels,” the new pas de deux by #QueertheBallet founder Adriana Pierce, is so pretty and easygoing you almost forget how radical it is. The piece is under five minutes long and features two women, Cortney Taylor Key and Audrey Malek, wafting joyfully around an airy white loft. They beam affectionately at each other as Joy Oladokun sings the opening line of her song, “Animals & Angels:” “Would you like some coffee with a side of cream?” Suitably, Key has a on a cream-colored shirt with latte brown high-waisted pants, Malek sports the inverse. It’s all so pleasant and tender; it seems like how these ladies take their coffee may be the only care they have in the world. But to anyone familiar with the realm of classical ballet, a romantic pas de deux for two women in pointe shoes is uncharted territory. The fact that it appears so natural makes it an unqualified success, as well as a perfect Pride Month offering from the Joyce Theater.
Lesbians in Ballet: ‘Has Anyone Like Me Ever Walked These Halls?’
Ballet’s strict gender norms put pressure on women to conform. But dancers who don’t are finding they’re not alone.
New York Times: Women on Pointe, Together
As a queer woman in ballet, Adriana Pierce has often felt unseen and unrepresented, onstage and off. No wonder. The presence of queer women in ballet is rarely discussed and almost never explored in choreography. With her project #QueertheBallet, Pierce is trying to change that.
Adriana Pierce on Conversations on Dance Podcast
Today we chat with our friend and former Miami City Ballet dancer, Adriana Pierce. We last spoke with Adriana in episode 44 from May 2017. Since that episode, she has since left Miami City Ballet and is now a freelance dancer and choreographer in New York City. She tells us about some of the projects she has been a part of since moving, what the pandemic has been like as a freelance artist, and about her new project with two American Ballet Theatre dancers, #QueerTheBallet, recently featured in the Guardian.
Adriana Pierce Choreographs a New Work for Carolina Ballet
Carolina Ballet is pleased to present a special evening of inspiration featuring Boléro! Audiences were blown away by Boléro when it premiered during Carolina Ballet’s 20th Anniversary Season. The program also features new works by emerging choreographers Mariana Oliveira, Adriana Pierce, and Carolina Ballet dancer, Jenny Palmer
NYC Ballet Star says I am Enough on National Coming Out Day
“I Am Enough” is a dance film starring NYC Ballet Soloist Georgina Pazcoguin and Skye Mattox (from Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story, Broadway’s On the Town and granddaughter of infamous jazz choreographer, Matt Mattox) choreographed by Adriana Pierce (New York Choreographer’s Institute Alumni) and directed by Victoria Duncan.
Mirroring the style of Sia’s Elastic Heart music video, I am Enough premiered on Daphne Willis’s Youtube page as her stunning track of the same name, accompanies the profound and moving video, which conveys a lesbian couple overcoming the mental health issues and homophobia that come between their relationship.
Defying Tradition With Pride
Former pod guest @adriprc has written a special blog post on our website, detailing her experiences of being a queer artist in the ballet world and what the art form can do to more meaningfully include queer people. As Pride month accelerates, we couldn’t think of a more opportune time to bring Adriana’s eloquent voice into this vital discussion”
MIKE FAIST, ANA ISABELLE AND MORE CAST IN SPIELBERG’S 'WEST SIDE STORY'
FILM ALSO ANNOUNCES CASTING FOR THE SHARKS & THE JETS, WITH OVER 50 NEW CAST MEMBERS IN FEATURE DEBUTSCasting Director Cindy Tolan looked at more than 30,000 performers, making this Spielberg’s broadest casting search since Schindler’s List(1993). For over 50 new cast members, West Side Story will mark their feature film debuts.
Broadway's "Carousel" Stars Some Familiar Ballet Faces
There are more than a few familiar faces onstage, too. NYCB principal Amar Ramasar is cast as ne'er-do-well sailor Jigger Craigin, while NYCB soloist Brittany Pollack plays Louise, who dances Act II's famous "dream ballet." American Ballet Theatre soloist Craig Salstein took a leave of absence from the company to serve as the show's dance captain and to perform in the ensemble, where he's joined by recent Miami City Ballet transplants Adriana Pierce and Andrei Chagas (a Pointe 2015 Star of the Corps).