International ballet competitions are designed to showcase a dancer’s talent and performance skill—which also happen to be the two aims of Victor Gsovsky’s Grand Pas Classique. The female variation consists of steps that align with the music, supporting dancers through difficult moves and reinforcing their musicality. In 2001, Sara Mearns competed in Youth America Grand Prix with this virtuosic variation. Now a principal with New York City Ballet, she had already begun to develop the fiery conviction that has become the trademark to her dancing.
This week, The Australian Ballet's Kevin Jackson will make his debut with American Ballet Theatre, dancing the familiar role of Des Grieux in Sir Kenneth MacMillan's Manon. Mr. Jackson's performance marks only the second time that a dancer from The Australian Ballet has guested with American Ballet Theatre. With his ABT debut around the corner (you can catch him on June 4th and June 6th), Mr. Jackson spoke to Pointe about interpreting the role of Des Grieux, partnering Xiomara Reyes, and the modern significance of the story ballet.
How many aspiring dancers have given up because their body type failed to conform to ballet’s ideals? The Ovation network’s new series, “Big Ballet,” which had its American premiere last week, takes weight out of the equation for 18 plus-size dancers. The show follows Wayne Sleep, a former Royal Ballet principal dancer, and Monica Loughman, artistic director of the Monica Loughman Ballet in Ireland, as they prepare the dancers for a production of Swan Lake.
Dancing peasants in traditional costumes often signal a Romantic ballet. However, they don't always consist of a three-act narrative. Divertissements are short ballets created to feature a dancer’s technical skill. August Bournonville choreographed many, including this folkloric interpretation of Gioachino Rossini’s opera William Tell. The dancers don't appear as characters, but rather perform to express the underlying joy in Rossini’s score. Darci Kistler masters this intention, seizing the stage with an unyielding connection to the music.
By now, you probably have your own standard performance makeup routine. But tailoring your makeup to the ballet you're dancing—especially if it's a story ballet—can really enhance the look and presence of your character. Beyond a little Black Swan smoky eye and flushed Coppélia cheeks, how can you really make your features pop? Enter former New York City Ballet dancer Kathryn Morgan (who now guest dances in her home state of Alabama).
There's a new dance movie in the works: Dave Scott, of the "So You Think You Can Dance" and Step Up families—is choreographing High Strung, a film about a ballet dancer from the Midwest who moves to New York City to attend a prestigious school on scholarship. Who will play that ballet dancer, you ask?