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Alexei Ratmansky and American Ballet Theatre are a match made in ballet heaven. The artist in residence has a 10-year contract with ABT, and has choreographed abstract and narrative ballets for the company such as The Bright Stream, The Nutcracker and Firebird. At the Guggenheim’s Works & Process on Sunday, ballet mistress Nancy Raffa, and principal David Hallberg discussed what it's like to work with Ratmansky. Apparently, Ratmansky comes to the studio very prepared, with his 2x4 inch black book containing choreography to each count of the score.

This weekend, the ballet world lost one of its best. Yvonne Mounsey, director of Westside Ballet in Santa Monica, California, passed away at age 93. Mounsey started her career at 20 with Colonel de Basil's Ballet Russes. While the company was on their U.S. tour in 1940-41, she met George Balanchine, who later asked her to join New York City Ballet.

Modern dance companies have been performing in quirky places since the days of Judson. But ballet has its share of branching out of the theater, too. Last weekend, 20 dancers from Russia's Yekaterinburg Ballet performed in a car factory—right alongside plant workers doing their jobs! A temporary stage was installed directly in the factory for the one-act ballet, H2O, performed as part of the Ural Industrial Biennial of Contemporary Art.

Nothing seems to intimidate Diana Vishneva. The Mariinsky prima toured her own solo show. She signed up for a guest spot with the Martha Graham Dance Company. She is forever chasing after new challenges. Her latest project? A new creation by Les Ballets de Monte Carlo director Jean-Christophe Maillot. She just spent two weeks in Monaco learning the choreography, and will be performing it in Russia over the next year.

You’ve always suspected that you’re different from your civilian, non-dancer friends. It turns out that science can back you up. According to a study published in PloS Genetics, dancers show consistent differences from the general population in two key genes. One contributes to spiritual experience, and the other modulates social communication and bonding behaviors.

Both the ballet and fashion worlds are still abuzz about the costumes Valentino Garavani designed for New York City Ballet's gala last week. Jewelry designer Robert Sorrell, of Sorrell Originals, added extra sparkle to the glamorous ensembles with his elegant headpieces. Pointe talked to Sorrell about his creations.

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What happens when you cross ballet with electronic music? Ballet fans found out last night, watching the innovative choreography by New York City Ballet’s Justin Peck to songs by Sufjan Stevens. At the Guggenheim’s Works & Process, the choreographer and composer, along with conductor Michael Atkinson, discussed their collaboration while NYCB dancers offered a preview of Year of the Rabbit.

 

Having trouble with your attitude turns? Susan Jaffe has some tips to offer. Our sister publication Dance Teacher filmed a short how-to video with the former ABT icon to help you find that beautiful place where you can simply soar around. Check it out on dancemedia.com.

Blisters are like irritating little sisters. While they aren't truly traumatic or career-threatening, for ballet dancers, they can be an almost constant annoyance, continually nagging at your toes with pinches of pain.

 

So what's a bunhead to do? Toe pads help, but there's more to blister care than stuffing your pointe shoes full of padding.

 

1. Get fitted by a professional. Feet change over time, so if you suddenly have blisters popping up, last year's maker may no longer be right for you.

 

Dancers aren't the only ones who defy gravity onstage. Tutus have their own magical way of looking otherworldly. Ever wondered how you could create your own from scratch? Prescott & Mackay, an independent fashion design school with locations in London and San Francisco, offers two-day tutu-making courses using The Royal Ballet standard. Over the course of 14 hours, students create a 10-layer, 16 inch tutu skirt, guided by costumer Amanda Hall.