The Breakout Stars of 2020



In 2018, Kali Uchis released a debut album titled “Isolation.” Clearly she was ahead of her time. In November, the Colombian-American artist — with a moody, seductive, dance-inducing style — dropped her second studio album, this time predominantly in Spanish, “Sin Miedo (del Amor y Otros Demonios).” (Its lead single, “Aquí Yo Mando,” features the up-and-coming rapper Rico Nasty.) The album “goes genre-hopping and era-hopping, from romantically retro orchestral bolero to brittle reggaeton,” Jon Pareles, the chief pop music critic of The Times, wrote this month.

Having grown up between Colombia and the D.C.-Maryland-Virginia area, Uchis, 26, had many inspirations and influences, she told Interview magazine. “The last thing I ever want to do is be a predictable artist. I love that my fans never know what to expect when I drop a song.”


It wasn’t just that the coronavirus put an end to live performance in March. The need for social isolation uprooted every part of what gets a dance onto a stage: Suddenly, there were no more classes, no more rehearsals. How to fill that void? The solo.

This solitary form has provided an outlet for frustration, for sadness and even for euphoria as dance artists continue to find meaning through movement. It’s true that some attempts have been sentimental and aimless, but much good has emerged from it, too. Instagram, from the start, illuminated these explorations in a steady stream of posts; choreographers worked with dancers remotely to create films in which the body could be fearless and free. “State of Darkness,” Molissa Fenley’s 1988 solo revived for seven dancers, was a glittering, harrowing reminder of the achievement that comes from strength, both internal and external.

One of its interpreters, the dancer Sara Mearns, said that she saw herself as “someone that has gone through really, really hard times, but then in the end has come out stronger and on top.” Yes, dance and dancers are suffering right now. But the solo has given it — and them — a powerful voice. — Gia Kourlas, dance critic for The New York Times



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