Ballet West’s Choreographic Festival

Photo by Beau Pearson, courtesy of Ballet West

This week Ballet West inaugurates its National Choreographic Festival: Two weekends of triple bills, featuring Ballet West in world premieres by Val Caniparoli and Nicolo Fonte, along with four guest companies performing recent creations. Visiting companies include Sarasota Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet, Oregon Ballet Theatre, and Pacific Northwest Ballet.


The National Choreographic Festival grew out of BW's Innovations program, which was an opportunity for company dancers to create on each other, and for an outside emerging choreographer to come into the studio. "When I arrived here nine years ago, there hadn't been new choreography for a long time," says BW artistic director and CEO Adam Sklute. "This is the first stage of a new platform." With the fall 2016 opening of the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Theater in Salt Lake City, Sklute decided that the time was right for a bigger event. "My dream is to grow this festival into a program of world premieres," he says.

Sklute worked with his colleagues at various companies to arrange the logistics of festival participation, but hopes to use future years as an opportunity for thematic programming. "I wanted to get it going with companies I admire," he says. "But next year I'm focusing on women choreographers and/or companies run by women. Every year I want a slightly different angle." His hope is to create an event that's the ballet equivalent of Utah's Sundance Film festival, attracting an audience to the state just to see cutting-edge choreography.

For more news on all things ballet, don't miss a single issue.

Cauthorn and Strongin, two to watch at SFB, in "Frankenstein." Photo by Erik Tomasson. Courtesy SFB.

Max Cauthorn was an on-the-rise corps member when he stepped into the title role of Liam Scarlett's Frankenstein last February; when the curtain came down, he was San Francisco Ballet's newest leading man. In his first full-length starring role, he carried the physically and emotionally demanding three-hour ballet with fluent technique and a natural charisma. But he didn't do it alone: In her own lead-role debut with SFB, soloist Lauren Strongin brought tenderness and steely integrity to Frankenstein's true love, Elizabeth.

Photo by Erik Tomasson, Courtesy SFB.

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Photo by Paul Kolnik, courtesy New York City Ballet.

This time of year, we're used to seeing dancers embodying the flavors of The Nutcracker's magical Land of Sweets. But the real-life equivalents of those seasonal treats are more than just holiday guilty pleasures, and have benefits that could help you get through a crazy month of performances. Here are a few reasons to indulge in the spices and flavors of the season—now, and all year long.

Peppermint

This powerhouse herb has an abundance of benefits to help you get through a busy performance season. It's been known to aid digestion and help calm anxiety, and one study found that inhaling its vapors may improve athletic performance. Smelling peppermint has also been found to increase focus. You don't just have to get it from candy canes: Try brewing a hot cup of peppermint tea between rehearsals, or to wind down after a long day.

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Richmond Ballet dancers show off two adoptable shelter dogs at its annual "Pupcracker." Photo courtesy Richmond Ballet

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Audience members can meet and adopt featured dogs during intermission. Photo Courtesy Richmond Ballet.

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Rudolf Nureyev and Merle Park in "The Nutcracker" (1968). Photo by Donald Southern, Courtesy of the Royal Opera House Collections.

Given the thousands of incarnations The Nutcracker has undergone—from tiny-tot productions in small-town studios to grand modern classics—the ballet's Grand Pas de Deux from Act II has remained remarkably intact. With slight variations, most professional dancers have seen its familiar choreography at some point or another. Tchaikovsky's radiant score calls to mind elegant promenades, partnered penchées and slow, supported développés.

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Photo by Taylor-Ferné Morris.

I have flatter feet and want to make them look better on pointe. Are there any special pointe shoes for my foot type? —Joana

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