These days, we know Svetlana Zakharova as an international ballet superstar. As a young student at St. Petersburg's prestigious Vaganova Academy, however, she was...well, still a superstar, just on a slightly smaller scale. Here are some excerpts from her graduation exam in 1996. You'll probably pick her out right away, but just in case: She's on the left in the first clip. Happy #ThrowbackThursday!
When you get sidelined by an injury, you try physical therapy, Pilates, swimming—anything that might get you back onstage ASAP. But when you return, something always seems a little different. Maybe that right knee doesn't feel as secure when you're jumping, or your left hip grips a little more during développé. It's hard not to wonder: Was there something else you should have been doing while you were out?
When ballet companies perform Swan Lake, all buzz tends to be about the ballerinas dancing Odette/Odile. But what would the work be without its corps of swan maidens?
Though not in the spotlight, their task is, in many ways, just as challenging as the Swan Queen's: They must maintain perfect unison, moving and breathing as one, to create some of the ballet's spine-tingling moments. Oh, and they have to avoid foot cramps (not to mention suffer through itches that can't be scratched) during long periods of standing, when they're essentially living scenery.
Gelsey Kirkland caused quite a stir when she left New York City Ballet in 1974. Then a rising star in Balanchine's company, she joined American Ballet Theatre at Mikhail Baryshnikov's behest, and became one of the Russian star's most frequent partners. Baryshnikov's high-wattage performances never outshone Kirkland, however. With her exquisite control, meticulous attention to detail, and heart-stopping vulnerability, she became a legend in her own right.
This fall, visual artist JR's The Eye of New York City Ballet, a large-scale installation for the company's annual Art Series, took social media by storm. (Just search the Instagram hashtag #NYCBArtSeries if you don't believe me.) But will he have as much success making art for the stage?
We had a hunch that when Jenifer Ringer retired earlier this month, she wasn't saying "goodbye" to dance at large. The former New York City Ballet principal (and author of Dancing Through It)will be moving to California to direct Colburn Dance Academy, a new pre-professional dance program formed by The Colburn School, a performing arts high school, and Benjamin Millepied's L.A. Dance Project.
Sometimes it seems like Alexei Ratmansky is remaking the classical canon, one ballet at a time. He restaged Le Corsaire and Flames of Paris back when he was director of the Bolshoi. Dutch National Ballet premiered his take on Don Quixote in 2010. He gave The National Ballet of Canada a new Romeo and Juliet in 2011. He took a risk with his unconventional Firebird for American Ballet Theatre in 2012. And ABT has made his delightful Nutcracker an annual New York tradition.
Sochi's glittery closing ceremony last night celebrated Russian culture, and no such celebration would be complete without ballet, of course. But leave it to the Olympics to bring Russia's two great—and very competitive—ballet houses together.