Before—though not long before—they were immortalized as Cooper Nielson and Kathleen Donahue (Center Stage, we'll never stop loving you), Ethan Stiefel and Julie Kent starred in the 1998 PBS broadcast of American Ballet Theatre's Le Corsaire. Corsaire's choreography may be as cheesy as they come, but what does that matter when you have two of the world's greatest dancers leading its cast?
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.
Georgian dancer Nina Ananiashvili was a star of the Bolshoi and, later, American Ballet Theatre. She may be blessed with endless arms and legs, but it's her warm generosity that makes her so endearing; you always want to root for her. Today, Ananiashvili is artistic director of the State Ballet of Georgia. She's about to celebrate her 51st birthday—and she's still dancing.
Here's a video of Ananiashvili performing Giselle's Act I solo with the Bolshoi. Happy #ThrowbackThursday!
American Ballet Theatre's Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School has come a long way in the short decade since it was founded. So far, in fact, that it's part of a select group of schools invited to perform at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow as part of the Bolshoi Ballet Academy's celebration of its 240th anniversary.
Somewhere in the history of ballet, a rumor started that dancers weren't very smart. Luckily, there are plenty of brilliant ballerinas who prove that rumor wrong. Take, for example, Melissa Thomas, a former American Ballet Theatre dancer who just graduated from Columbia University with a degree in psychology. She's now planning to pursue a master's degree in social work and eventually practice clinical psychotherapy. But as she tells it, ballet not only gave her the discipline she needed to succeed in her second career, it also became a passion that will never leave her.
Mark your calendars: There's some great ballet coming into your life over the next couple of weeks—all of which you can catch from the comfort of your couch. Keep an eye out for these programs:
Wendy Whelan: "Restless Creature" The New York City Ballet superstar will preview her new project at the Guggenheim Museum. She'll perform excerpts from new duets created collaboratively with choreographers Joshuah Beamish and Brian Brooks, and show a solo by Shen Wei.