Call Board

Published in the February/March 2010 issue.

Angel Arrives

Corella Ballet makes its stateside debut.

Angel Corella: Choreographer? American audiences soon will see a new side of the American Ballet Theatre principal. Spain’s Corella Ballet brings Corella’s first stab at choreography to New York City Center this March.

Corella’s inspiration for the 35-minute String Sextet comes from the score, Tchaikovsky’s “Souvenir from Florence.” “I never thought of myself as a choreographer, but this music was like a ghost haunting me,” Corella says. He describes his ballet, which premiered in Barcelona last July, as fresh and clean with a touch of romanticism.

CB’s City Center performances mark the young company’s first overseas tour—something Corella didn’t anticipate happening so soon. "Creating a classical ballet company today is very difficult,” he says, “but my name is generating some buzz and ticket sales are very promising.”

Corella hopes to go abroad frequently—tours to Japan and Brazil are already in the works. But he also wants to establish the com­pany's presence in Spain, where there are few classical ballet companies. Last season, CB performed in 55 Spanish cities, and this season it will perform in at least that many, if not more.

Is Corella nervous about his com­pany’s New York debut? Not at all. “I feel incredibly proud,” he says. “I’ve carried New York audiences’ love around my whole career. It’s exciting to be returning to the place that saw me mature as an artist.”  —Kristin Lewis

King David

A revamped version of the hit Kings of the Dance extravaganza comes to New York City Center this February. After last year’s successful Russian tour, this year’s pick-up troupe—which traveled around Europe before arriving in New York—features Jose Manuel Carreño, Guillaume Côté, Marcelo Gomes, David Hallberg, Denis Matvienko and Nikolay Tsiskaridze. “We’re a melting pot of styles and nationalities, which is fascinating for audiences,” says Hallberg, a veteran “king.”

Another selling point is the contemporary repertoire. “We’re not doing the standard gala fare,” Hallberg says. “It’s eclectic and modern.” Hallberg was especially excited to learn Duato’s turbulent Remanso, new to the Kings program this year. “I remember watching Vladimir Malakhov dance Remanso when I was 14 or 15, and thinking that it was a ballet that might feel comfortable on my body. It’s a masterpiece.”

Kings celebrates the renaissance of the bravura male ballet dancer. “The technical level of men’s dancing has gone up a notch,” Hallberg says. “It was Baryshnikov who set the precedent, but then people like Jose and Marcelo have carried on the tradition of powerful, masculine dancing. I’m proud to be able to share the stage with that kind of talent.” —Margaret Fuhrer

 

Neumeier’s Mermaid Swims to SFB

When most people think of The Little Mermaid, they picture cute animated guppies and cheery musical numbers. But there’s nothing Disney about John Neumeier’s ballet version of Mermaid. The modern tragedy will have its U.S. première when San Francisco Ballet performs it this March. “It’s a dark, heart-wrenching story,” says SFB principal Sarah Van Patten.

Van Patten knows that story inside and out: She is cast not only as the ill-fated Mermaid, but also as the Princess betrothed to the Mermaid’s Prince. “The Princess role is more difficult technically, because it’s performed on pointe, while the Mermaid is danced barefoot,” Van Patten says. “But I think the Princess is easier for me because she’s Juliet-like—naïve, innocent and above all human.” Dancing the Mermaid, on the other hand, “is about transcending technique and becoming a creature, a fish, which I’ve found much more challenging,” Van Patten says. “I’ve been a bird in Swan Lake, but never a fish!”

To create an appropriate look, Neumeier has his Mermaid wear long pants, sewn together at the ends, which trail behind her feet like a tail. The effect is visually striking—but the costume, Van Patten says, takes some getting used to. “Every time you take a step back, you have to flip your feet in a certain way so that the pants end up behind you, not tangled around your legs,” she says with a laugh. “But somehow John manages to incorporate the costume naturally. In the end, it really looks like you’re underwater.” —MF

Stephen Hanna Returns to NYCB

After an “awesome” year playing grown-up Billy in Billy Elliot on Broadway, Stephen Hanna has returned to his former home, New York City Ballet, as a principal.

While Hanna did local theater as a child, his Broadway turn wasn’t planned. An agent friend asked him to audition for adult Billy and, to his surprise, Hanna landed the role. “I didn’t know what  I was getting into,” Hanna admits. (One of his biggest challenges? Singing with the ensemble!)

Still, Hanna might consider working on Broadway again. “Broadway audiences are so responsive,” he says. “It was unlike anything I’ve ever seen.” —Susan Chitwood

 

The Washington Ballet’s Jazzy Gatsby

Washington Ballet artistic director Septime Webre believes that F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, set in the roaring ’20s, is particularly relevant today. “We certainly know how the ’20s ended, and we too recently faced the bursting of an economic bubble,” he says. “The story’s message is ultimately one of moderation, even when times are flush.”

Webre hopes that this message will resonate with Washington Ballet audiences when his ballet version of Gatsby premieres at the Kennedy Center this February. But he also chose to choreograph Gatsby’s story because he finds it uniquely danceable. “The music, the exuberance, the exhilarating frenzy that was New York in the 1920s just explodes with dance,” he says.

A new score by jazz expert Billy Novick provides the beat for Webre’s lively dance party. An “old-time crooner,” as Webre describes him, will also read five short excerpts from Fitzgerald’s book. “Between the music and the spoken language and the dancing,” Webre says, “hopefully we’ll capture the energy of the era.” —MF

 

Pointe Style Watch: A Timeless Tutu

Look like a pro in pas de deux class with this classic white practice tutu from Algy. The 14” pancake-style tutu has four tiers of double net to keep it perky through hours of rehearsal. A top layer of soft chiffon keeps the netting from scratching your partner’s hands during pirouettes and lifts. —MF

 

Pointe Shoe Profile

Miami City Ballet’s Jennifer Kronenberg

Brand: Freed of London
Size: 4 1/2 XX
Maker: Maltese (Iron) Cross
Years wearing this shoe: 15!
Padding: She tapes her second toe and two last toes with first-aid tape, and wears Bunheads “jelly tips” on her big toes. Occasionally, she’ll use corn pads between her toes for added comfort.
Break-in process: After darning the tips of her shoes, she lays them on the floor and steps on the boxes to flatten them.

Then she rips out the insole lining and gently bends the shank back and forth to conform to her arch. Finally, she pours one tube of super glue inside each box for extra strength.

Number of pairs she uses: During performance periods, she goes through two to three pairs each weekend.