In June, National Ballet of Canada corps member Christopher Gerty danced his first full-length role, Prince Siegfried in Swan Lake. But five years ago, while studying in San Francisco Ballet School's trainee program, his professional dreams were almost crushed. He was hit by a car and broke two ribs. Then a torn meniscus sidelined him from performances for nine months. With those setbacks behind him, the lanky 23-year-old now looks to a bright future.
Photo by Karolina Kuras
Elle Macy was a first-year corps member in 2013 when Twyla Tharp chose to feature her in Pacific Northwest Ballet's premiere of Waiting At The Station. Four years later, 24-year-old Macy is still in the corps, but choreographers from David Dawson to Jessica Lang to William Forsythe have noticed her long, elegant lines and boundless energy, and have singled her out to dance in their ballets.
"In the middle, somewhat elevated was on my bucket list," says Macy, who danced it in 2015. "It drew me into Forsythe, and having him come here was a dream!"
Macy in Balanchine's The NutcrackerPhoto by Angela Sterling, Courtesy PNB
Plucked from its second company to star as Olga in Tulsa Ballet's 2016 production of Onegin, Tomoka Kawazoe offered the kind of classic story-ballet sweetness that audiences love. Yet the 19-year-old Tokyo native is equally adept in contemporary works. She wowed audiences in Jennifer Archibald's OMENS, displaying a rapid-fire technical fierceness illuminated by her dazzling flexibility.
Photo by Andrew Fassbender, Courtesy Tulsa Ballet
Patricia Zhou's haunting interpretation of Nacho Duato's Herrumbre is profound—her liquid movement and supernatural musicality reveal a maturity well beyond her 23 years. "It's emotionally draining to give so much onstage," she admits, "but every time I perform Herrumbre, I experience something new." Delicate yet daring, Zhou's dancing reshapes the classical mold at Staatsballett Berlin.
Zhou with Dominc Hodal and Alexander Akulov in Duato's Herrumbre Photo by Fernando Marcos, Courtesy Staatsballett Berlin
Petite and fine-boned, American Ballet Theatre's Rachel Richardson can look younger than her 21 years, vulnerable in a way that makes you want to give her a hug. That is, until she begins to move. Elegant and precise, with beautifully articulated legs and feet, Richardson radi- ates authority onstage, commanding attention rather than asking for it. There's a lot of power in that delicate frame.
Photo by Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy of ABT.
Natasha Sheehan was already creating buzz when she debuted as a San Francisco Ballet corps member in December 2016. Then just 17 years old, the 5' 1" phenom had been promoted directly from her trainee class—and had just won the 2016 Erik Bruhn Prize, besting a cadre of international professionals.
At the Bruhn competition, Sheehan and SFB principal dancer Angelo Greco mesmerized in Foragers, a contemporary work created by Myles Thatcher, and danced a transcendent Giselle Act II pas de deux. "You could hear a pin drop in the auditorium," says SFB artistic director Helgi Tomasson, who has kept an eye on her since she entered the SFB School at age 11. "Her work is very articulate, very beautiful. But she is also mature beyond her years."
Spanish ballerina Lucia Lacarra left Bavarian State Ballet, her company of 14 years, in 2016 for life as an international guest artist, accompanied by her husband and fellow dancer, Marlon Dino. As an artist on the move, she packs her roomy dance bag with only the bare necessities. When she's home in Germany, however, the rest of the space is reserved for supplies for her 2-year-old daughter, Laia. Along with snacks, a changing bag, water, a pacifier and baby wipes, Laia requires her favorite toy lamb named Baa Baa.
In New York City for the Youth America Grand Prix gala, Lacarra pared her dance bag back down to the essentials. "As you mature as an artist you learn what you need to carry and how to limit yourself," she says. When she was younger, Lacarra would tote multiple brands of the same product, but now she knows exactly what she likes. Some items even pull double duty: Tan tape protects blisters and secures her wedding ring, which Lacarra wears when she performs.
Reuniting with Chelsea Adomaitis in Paris was like a little taste of home. Old friends and former corps members of the Pacific Northwest Ballet, we had both moved to Europe last summer. Over brunch she' d share the story that brought her abroad.
As a little girl, Chelsea Adomaitis dreamed of dancing for the Paris Opéra Ballet, but as most do, she dismissed it as just that: a dream. Beginning her training in Boston with her mom, a former dancer, she later enrolled at the Harid Conservatory. It wasn't until she attended Pacific Northwest Ballet School's summer program, at age 16, that she discovered Balanchine, and it was love at first step. After two years in the school she was hired as an apprentice.
Her first few years in the company were full of growing pains. Her technique and confidence flourished as she gained opportunities to perform leading roles. Yet juggling these with a very heavy corps load began to wear on her. Confusion, frustration and injuries mounted as one season of this juggling act turned into four. Yet she persevered, hoping her work would soon be recognized and rewarded.
The author and Adomaitis outside Versailles. Photo by Jessika Anspach McEliece, Courtesy McEliece.