Jeffrey Cirio rehearses with members of Cirio Collective. Photo by Jordan Jennings.

The Joyce Theater regularly presents a summer ballet festival, showcasing the best of chamber-sized companies. Choreography ranges widely, utilizing everything from socks to pointe shoes, but this year three of the five groups have something in common: Gemma Bond Dance, Cirio Collective and Claudia Schreier and Company are all making their Joyce debuts. Catch them, along with Amy Seiwert's Imagery and Emery LeCrone DANCE, July 18–29. The Joyce Theater regularly presents a summer ballet festival, showcasing the best of chamber-sized companies. Choreography ranges widely, utilizing everything from socks to pointe shoes, but this year three of the five groups have something in common: Gemma Bond Dance, Cirio Collective and Claudia Schreier and Company are all making their Joyce debuts. Catch them, along with Amy Seiwert's Imagery and Emery LeCrone DANCE, July 18–29.

Gemma Bond Dance

American Ballet Theatre corps member Gemma Bond presented a full evening of work at Danspace project in February 2016, and Atlanta Ballet commissioned her Denouement in March 2017. Now, she's reveling in the freedom of an open-ended Joyce creation. "I want to show exactly where I'm going and what I'm doing with my work," she says. Past performances have revealed Bond's ability to craft serene, graceful pas de deux as well as a knack for coaching larger groups. Alongside the Joyce premiere, she plans to present two ballets: The Giving, a duet created through a grant from the New York Choroegraphic Institute, and an older group piece called Then and Again.

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Rebecca Rhodes (center) in Balanchine's "Theme and Variations" Photo by Erik Tomasson, Courtesy of San Francisco Ballet

Being in the corps can be pretty unforgiving. You dance in nearly every performance, it sometimes feels like you're only onstage to add to the scenery, and you're expected to fit in—while still vying for soloist roles. It's enough to make even the most determined dancer lose steam. Pointe spoke with three corps de ballet dancers about how they use a combination of self-discipline and creativity to keep themselves motivated.

Shine in Class

After a few years, morning class can feel like a chore—especially during heavy rehearsal periods when your body just wants to rest. But rather than viewing it as a drag, try reframing class as a chance to show your best, hardest-working self. For San Francisco Ballet corps member Rebecca Rhodes, class is a time to push harder, not slack off. "It's a great time to be noticed," she says, especially for dancers hoping to be cast in featured roles. "I make sure to do every combination two or three times, and I try not to pick and choose what's comfortable," she says.

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Photo by Beau Pearson, courtesy of Ballet West

This week Ballet West inaugurates its National Choreographic Festival: Two weekends of triple bills, featuring Ballet West in world premieres by Val Caniparoli and Nicolo Fonte, along with four guest companies performing recent creations. Visiting companies include Sarasota Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet, Oregon Ballet Theatre, and Pacific Northwest Ballet.

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Inside PT
Photo by Knut Bry, Courtesy Strømgren

Jo Strømgren may not be a household name for stateside balletomanes (yet), but his work has been performed by dozens of dance, theater and opera companies throughout Europe. He's currently the associate choreographer at Norwegian National Ballet and directs his own dance-theater troupe, Jo Strømgren Kompani. Pointe spoke with this major force in European dance before his February 10 premiere at Philadelphia's BalletX.

How would you characterize your work?

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Piotr Stanczyk, Skylar Campbell and Heather Ogden in costume for Pinocchio(Photo by Karolina Kuras, Courtesy National Ballet of Canada)

On March 11, a beloved wooden puppet will become a real boy when National Ballet of Canada premieres Will Tuckett's Pinocchio. "Pinocchio inhabits a world of movement," says Tuckett, an independent choreographer and guest principal character artist with The Royal Ballet. NBoC first soloist Skylar Campbell, who is originating the role of Pinocchio, says that Tuckett has allowed the dancers to find quirkiness. "You have to move distinctly rather than robotically," he says.

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Elle Macy and Dylan Wald in Her Door to the Sky (photo by Hayim Heron, courtesy PNB)

Jessica Lang is equally comfortable creating work for high-profile ballet companies and her own contemporary troupe. Her latest work for Pacific Northwest Ballet, Her Door to the Sky, premiered at Jacob's Pillow last August, but will have its West Coast run March 17–26. The ballet uses Georgia O'Keeffe's patio-door series of paintings as its inspiration. "It took O'Keeffe 13 years to buy her home and fix it up, all because she saw that door," Lang says. "I was attracted to its significance and the idea of home. I also wanted to choose a subject besides her flowers. She stopped painting them because she was offended by critics' obsession with linking the images to her sexuality."

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Baryshnikov in Letter to a Man (photo by Lucie Jansch, courtesy Brooklyn Academy of Music)

Adding another milestone to his already untouchable career, Mikhail Baryshnikov will take on the role of iconic ballet dancer Vaslav Nijinsky in director Robert Wilson's one-man show, Letter to a Man. The work had its premiere in Italy in 2015 and has its U.S. debut as part of the Brooklyn Academy of Music's Next Wave Festival, October 15–30.

Though Baryshnikov and Nijinsky were ballet titans of their respective generations, Letter to a Man is theater, not dance. And Wilson's vision won't result in a literal biography of the troubled danseur. Rather, it's an interpretation of the diaries Nijinsky kept while he suffered from schizophrenia. The play's title is from a letter written from Nijinsky to his former lover and Ballets Russes founder Sergei Diaghilev—when their relationship was such that Nijinsky wouldn't even say his name.

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Emily Parker and Mate Szentes rehearse Balanchine's Agon (photo by Anastasia Petukhova, courtesy ACB)

.The last few years have seen notable company closures, including Silicon Valley Ballet in San Jose, California. But Los Angeles–based American Contemporary Ballet is moving in the opposite direction, extending its contract and filling out its now-year-round roster of dancers.

"We got the advice to grow slowly because it allows you to make your mistakes on a small scale," says artistic director Lincoln Jones, who founded the company to present ballet as a musical art form. To whit, the repertoire includes work by Balanchine, Fred Astaire and Jones. Performances are always accompanied by live music."

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