Career Transition For Dancers' 25th Anniversary
Career Transition For Dancers’ annual gala is always a star-studded affair, and this year’s November 8 performance, honoring Twyla Tharp, is no exception. But the 2010 edition has extra sparkle: It’s the nonprofit group’s 25th anniversary. Over that quarter century, CTFD has helped thousands of dancers in 47 states navigate different stages in their careers. In fact, Pointe’s own founding editor in chief, Virginia Johnson, is a CTFD success story—she came to Pointe through the organization. Offering career counseling, seminars, scholarships and grants, CTFD has become an important resource for dancers who need help taking the next step.
Antonio Carmena, a soloist with New York City Ballet, can attest to CTFD’s helpfulness. When he suffered a serious foot injury this year and was forced to rest for several months, he felt lost. “I thought, ‘What am I going to do now?,’” he says. With the help of a CTFD counselor, Carmena decided to take advantage of the time off and pursue another love: cooking. A grant from CTFD allowed him to attend the French Culinary Institute in New York City, where he took 110 hours of classes. “To have the support of my counselor and CTFD was what got me through it,” Carmena says.
Freelance ballerina Melissa Sandvig (of “So You Think You Can Dance” fame) also received critical help from CTFD. A few years ago, after six seasons with Milwaukee Ballet, she fractured her lower back and began taking Pilates classes as part of her rehabilitation. She enjoyed it so much that she decided to get certified. “Focusing on Pilates seemed natural,” she says. “It had really helped me—and I knew teaching Pilates classes could be my breadwinner job when I started dancing again.” A grant from CTFD helped pay for the pricey certification process. “I’m forever grateful to CTFD,” Sandvig says. “When dance is all you know, it’s great to have people you can turn to, and if you need it, that little jump start of money.” —Margaret Fuhrer
Miami City Ballet Turns 25
It’s an especially happy birthday for Miami City Ballet. Thanks to a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the company’s 25th-anniversary repertory performances will be accompanied by the Opus One Orchestra. It’s the first time in almost two years that MCB has been able to afford live music.
“We are so grateful to the Knight Foundation,” says Artistic Director Edward Villella. “Live music costs about $300,000 a year for us, a significant chunk of our budget. But performing with an orchestra has a very different feel. There’s the wonder of communication between the musicians, the conductor and the dancers.” To welcome back the musicians, MCB’s season-opening program in October includes Jerome Robbins’ playful Fanfare—in which dancers represent the various instruments of an orchestra.
Villella is pleased with the way MCB has grown over the years. “We started modestly, with just 19 dancers, and step by step, we watched the company evolve,” he says. Today there are nearly 50 dancers on MCB’s roster. Villella is also proud of the company’s current repertoire, which is full of masterworks by choreographers like Robbins and Balanchine. “These ballets educate dancers—and audiences—in different styles and approaches, in various dramatic ideas,” he says.
What’s next for the company? Villella is pragmatic: “There are enormous challenges right now in the area of finances.” Still, he’s willing to express a cautious optimism. “My goal is for the company to be poised to do anything,” he says. “We hope this season will provide us with additional funding and a larger audience—and we in return will present a company ready to take the next step.” —MF
Happy Birthday, Nashville Ballet
This October, Nashville Ballet kicks off its 25th-anniversary season with Swan Lake, accompanied by The Nashville Symphony. The symphony will return for Nashville’s Nutcracker, artistic director Paul Vasterling’s Carmina Burana and a special family performance of Peter & the Wolf.
A Classic Carmen Comes To Pennsylvania Ballet
The story of the gypsy Carmen and her tragic affair with Don Jose has fascinated choreographers from Mats Ek to Jorma Elo. This October, Pennsylvania Ballet will tackle Roland Petit’s oh-so-French Carmen, one of the most iconic dance versions of the tale, for the first time.
Despite Petit’s fame in Europe, his choreography isn’t often seen in the United States—a trend that baffles PAB artistic director Roy Kaiser. He’s been itching to present Carmen since he saw Mikhail Baryshnikov and Natalia Makarova dance it at American Ballet Theatre nearly 30 years ago. “Petit’s works are so important to ballet history,” Kaiser says. “Carmen in particular was ahead of its time when it was made in 1949; it was quite a departure from what people thought of as classical in the ’40s. It created a new way of looking at ballet.”
Why this version rather than something more contemporary? “I like the old-world Parisian flavor and drama of Petit’s ballet,” Kaiser says. “It’s not a sensibility that you’d get from a current choreographer. And since Petit isn’t seen much around here, he’s really a ‘new-old’ choreographer—someone I’m happy to introduce my dancers to.” —MF
NYCB’s First Fall Season At Lincoln Center
As part of an arrangement with the New York City Opera, which shares Lincoln Center’s David H. Koch Theater, New York City Ballet will present a quirky new fall season this September and October in New York. Highlights include the local première of Plainspoken by NYCB principal and golden-boy choreographer Benjamin Millepied, and a revival of Peter Martins’ The Magic Flute with new sets by David Mitchell. —MF
Oregon Ballet Theatre’s New Beauty
Christopher Stowell’s revamped production of The Sleeping Beauty, accompanied by the Oregon Ballet Theatre Orchestra, will charm Portland audiences this October. Though Stowell’s version of the full-length classic will often follow Petipa’s original, he plans to incorporate new
choreography to better show off the entire company. Stowell says his ballet’s success will “ride on the overall training and execution of everyone onstage, not just one or two leading dancers.”
While some might be hesitant to alter such an iconic work, Stowell believes that 19th-century ballets should be adjusted to suit the needs of a 21st-century company and its artists: “Being staunchly committed to authenticity can rob works of spontaneity and impact.” —EK
Pointe Style Watch: Practical And Pretty
When you have a long day of rehearsal ahead of you, the last thing you want to worry about is your hair. Try Sansha’s stretchy fabric headband in soft ballet pink, which is both a chic accessory and a quick and easy way to keep strands off your face. The band comes in especially handy for dancers growing out bangs and shorter haircuts acquired over the summer. And it’s trendy, too: We’ve noticed American Ballet Theatre principal Veronika Part and San Francisco Ballet principal Sarah Van Patten sporting a similar look. —MF
Pointe Shoe Profile: The Royal Ballet’s Laura Morera
Brand: I have always worn Freed of London shoes. When I went to White Lodge (the Royal Ballet Lower School) at age 11, I was fitted by Michelle from Freed, and I’ve never looked back.
Size: I am a 4 triple X. My feet are quite wide!
Maker: Right now my maker is “Q,” and I love him. Once I find a maker I like, I stick with him until he retires and I am forced to try a different one. When I first joined the company, I tried out the makers of my favorite dancers—but I soon discovered that what looks good on one dancer doesn’t always work for others!
Years wearing this shoe: I’m not sure exactly how long I have been wearing this specific maker, but it’s been a while. You get used to the way a shoe fits and how long it lasts and how you work in it; a change of maker can be quite traumatic. At the end of the day the pointe shoe is our most important tool. It has to be perfect!
Padding: I never wore any padding as a student or in my first couple of years in the company. Then my maker retired, and for a while my shoes felt too big, so to pad them out I added some foam toe pads. I got used to them and now I can’t dance without them.
Break-in process: I crack the shanks underneath the arch. Then I shellac the shoe before I wear it. Finally, I cut off the satin at the tip and use a knife to shave down the sole a bit, so I can feel the floor.
Number of pairs she uses: I am well known in the company for how few shoes I use, despite the fact that I am always onstage! I can use the same pair for a long time, especially in rehearsals. I like my shoes to feel familiar on my feet.
Ballet All Over: Platinum Recording Artists Take On Ballet
What happens when pop musicians meet pointe shoes? We’re about to find out: Both Sir Paul McCartney and the electronic dance duo Pet Shop Boys recently announced that they’re composing ballet scores.
Former Beatle McCartney, who told BBC News that he decided to try out ballet because he’s “interested in doing things I haven’t done before” (adding “I accept things before I know what I’m doing”), hasn’t revealed much else about his project. But the Pet Shop Boys’ ballet, a collaboration with choreographer Javier De Frutos and Royal Ballet principal Ivan Putrov, is set to premiere in the spring of 2011 at Sadler’s Wells in London. An adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s 1870 story “The Most Incredible Thing,” it will feature a 26-piece orchestra and a 15-member cast led by Putrov, who asked them to write the score. “In the past we have written music for the club dance floor, so to write music for the ballet stage seems like a logical development,” the pair said in a joint statement. “We have always been fascinated by giving our music a theatrical context.” —MF