What better way to celebrate the 4th of July weekend than by revisiting classic ballets that have acted as pillars of American dance? The wider dance world beautifully represents the diversity and complexity of what it means to be American. Unfortunately, ballet's contributions to national identity have historically been pretty narrow, reflecting youth and energy, and not much else.
Almost every professional dancer has paid her dues in the corps de ballet. It can be the most rigorous years of a dancer’s life, requiring strength and endurance to function as the backbone of the company. In this video of American Ballet Theatre’s Giselle, we experience one of the most difficult moments in a corps dancer’s repertoire. The cast sets the scene for Act II, clouding the stage with ominous white tutus and broken hearts.
Who would have thought that the English National Ballet would be popular with an early-morning music festival crowd? In past years Glastonbury—a major music festival in England—has experiemented with several different kinds of performances for its Sunday morning slot. This year, the English National Ballet took the stage to perform Akram Khan's Dust, a ballet about women during World War I.
Perhaps you remember Pennsylvania Ballet's Alexander Peters from his Pointe magazine profilein our April/May 2013 issue. Or maybe you know him as one of your favorite corps de ballet dancers—and one of our readers' choice nominees for corps members who deserve to be promoted right away.
Some call the International Ballet Competition in Jackson, Mississippi, the Olympics of dance. It comes around every four years, draws an international roster of competitors and bestows medals, contracts, cash awards and scholarships upon the some of best and brightest young talents in the world. The competition, which started June 14, has narrowed down the list of 99 competitors to 31 finalists. Here are the six Americans who made the cut. (All photography by Richard Finkelstein, courtesy IBC Jackson.)
You don’t have to be a ballet dancer to know Mikhail Baryshnikov’s name. His involvement with film and modern dance gave him an international reputation across multiple disciplines. He also defined what it means to be a male dancer, and set the standard for the power it requires. This video from 1969 shows Baryshnikov at only 20 years old—with his famous, awe striking jumps already taking the stage.