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Our Favorite Pointe Stories of 2016

As the new year approaches, we here at Pointe took a moment to look back on some of the ballet stories we loved from 2016. Here are just a few of our (many) favorites!

 

Julie Kent working with students at ABT (photo by Rosalie O'Connor, courtesy ABT)

“In Defense of Patience” (December/January): Julie Kent’s heartfelt essay on embracing the unknown is the perfect anecdote to today’s high-pressure, social media-driven world. Kent gently reminds us about what’s really important as an artist: “The work is still the work, and at the end of the day, the work is what you have left, and is both your labor and your reward.” —Amy Brandt, editor in chief

 

"Dateline Havana” (April/May): I love Quinn Wharton's photos for this feature, especially those of the National Ballet of Cuba's dancers rehearsing and taking class in the company's old studios. The story offered readers an exclusive look at Cuba's rich ballet tradition and how it may be becoming less insular.  —Madeline Schrock, managing editor

National Ballet of Cuba principals Gretta Morejón and Alfredo Ibanez. Photo by Quinn Wharton.

 

“Her Time” (December/January): Ballet fans have long considered Stella Abrera a principal dancer and now that she has the official title, she's never looked better. It was our honor to put such a paragon of grace and determination on the cover of our biggest issue of the year. —Nicole Loeffler Gladstone, assistant editor

 

"Story Ballets for the 21st Century" (April/May): Hanna Rubin's thoughtful piece explored the unique challenges of choreographing a narrative for today's audiences, and some of the exciting things artists are doing—whether working with classic literature or creating completely original works. —Suzannah Friscia, assistant editor

 

“The Quest for Confidence” (August/September): Writer Gavin Larsen unpacked this complicated subject and explained that, just like technique, building and believing in your own confidence is something that takes practice.” —Madeline Schrock, managing editor

 

“Taking the Lead” (June/July): This story talked to professional dancers who understand that you don't need to stand in the spotlight to be a leader. They're great role models for ballet students, who often worry that being a principal is the only way to matter in a company setting.” —Nicole Loeffler Gladstone, assistant editor

 

Courtney Henry at her local famer's market. Photo by Kathryn Rummel

"Finding Balance" (December/January): I loved following Alonzo King LINES Ballet's Courtney Henry through a typical day. I was inspired by the way she makes time to take care of herself, as well as her attitude in the studio: “If you don't believe in your awesomeness, who will? Ballet can be good at tearing you down, so it's a personal responsibility to lift yourself up.” —Suzannah Friscia, assistant editor 

 

“Semi-Pro Limbo” (April/May): With so few professional jobs available, many young dancers are moving from one second company to the next—and feel the clock ticking on their career. Writer Candice Thompson took a frank look at the anxious situation many entry level dancers face, and offers advice for those wondering how long to stick it out. —Amy Brandt, editor in chief

 

 What were some of your favorite Pointe stories? Tell us in the comments section!

 

 

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Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre's 'The Nutcracker.' Photo by Rich Sofranko

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Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre's performance will take place on Tuesday, December 26th, and they are one of the pioneer companies in presenting sensory-friendly performances of The Nutcracker (their first production was in 2013). PBT also offers sensory-friendly versions of Jorden Morris' Peter Pan and Lew Christensen's Beauty and the Beast throughout the year.

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When she bounds on stage in her perky pink tutu, you immediately notice her legs–they just go on forever. In the first sequence of steps she keeps her jetés and développés low, but then the phrase repeats and she lets her gorgeous extensions fly. She sails through Italian fouettés and whirls around in piqués en manège that get faster and faster. While she nails all the virtuosic movement, Alexandrova also pays beautiful attention to detail throughout the variation. Even the simplest steps become something exciting, like her precise pas de bourrées beginning at 1:03 that sing with musicality.

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