New York’s New Preprofessional Companies
New York’s Joffrey Ballet School recently launched a preprofessional company for its “Joffrey Ballet” program, and plans to start two more companies for its other two divisions (which include “Classical Ballet,” led by Gelsey Kirkland and Michael Chernov, and “Jazz and Contemporary Dance”). 


Each of the three companies will be completely separate from the others. The dancers will be chosen from the ranks of their respective programs through auditions run as objectively as possible in order to prepare the dancers for professional open calls.


The directors hope to mimic the second company experience, helping students make the leap to becoming professional dancers. “We try our best to run the company like a professional troupe,” says


Davis Robertson, director of the “Joffrey Ballet” program’s company, “but at the same time we act as mentors and give the dancers honest critiques of their technique, presentation, movement quality and professionalism, as well as an understanding ear.” His troupe has already performed five new works, including ballets by Julie Bour, formerly of Ballet Preljocaj, and Africa Guzman, associate director of Spain’s Compañia Nacional de Danza. For more, visit


Ivy League Ballet
Getting an Ivy League education no longer means you have to give up performing. Several top universities, including Columbia, Princeton and Harvard, host student-run companies for classically trained dancers. And they’re more than just clubs for amateurs—they boast professional-caliber dancers and distinguished choreographers.


“I like that I get to be in an academically challenging program—but also dance as much as I want,” says Harvard Ballet Company’s current director Hazel Lever, a sophomore majoring in history and science with a secondary major in global health and health policy. 


None of the companies offer training as rigorous as an official dance major. But members receive regular open classes and biannual performance opportunities, often dancing in work set or created on them by esteemed choreographers. Harvard Ballet Company—which currently has about 50 active members, including dancers who’ve performed with Zurich Ballet, Boston Ballet, Los Angeles Ballet and ABT II—performed a new ballet by Peter Pucci and brought in Deborah Wingert to set Balanchine’s Walpurgisnacht Ballet this fall. Columbia Ballet Collaborative has danced premieres by Matthew Neenan, Emery LeCrone and Adam Hendrickson, and the 24 dancers have been joined by guest artists such as New York City Ballet principal Amar Ramasar. Princeton University Ballet’s 19 dancers have performed work by Christopher Fleming and Susan Jaffe. All three companies also offer opportunities for students to choreograph.


If you’re visiting campuses this spring, catch the companies in action. Columbia Ballet Collaborative performs April 9 and 10. Harvard Ballet Company performs April 15 and 16. Princeton University Ballet will perform the week of May 2. Find out more at


In Makarova’s Footsteps
No matter your technical level, you can now learn directly from teachers who’ve trained the Kirov’s top dancers in the studios where Makarova, Baryshnikov and Nureyev once took class. St. Petersburg Travel, Inc., offers a unique trip for students, teachers and ballet enthusiasts to attend the annual Vaganova Method Conference and Demonstration at the Vaganova Ballet Academy in St. Petersburg, Russia. The 10-day tour includes master classes taught by Vaganova Academy teachers, plus lectures on dance theory, ballet dancer psychology, nutrition and injury prevention. In addition, participants get to observe regular classes at the Academy, meet with the teachers for question-and-answer sessions and attend performances by the Kirov Ballet and Academy students. The trip also includes tours of St. Petersburg’s historic sites, palaces and museums. The reservation deadline is May 1. To learn more, go to


Get Discovered
The end of the school year means spring performances. That can be a chance to impress company directors. But what signals to them that an advanced student is ready to be a professional? Joffrey Ballet artistic director Ashley Wheater shares his advice as students from the Academy of Dance, Official School of The Joffrey Ballet in Chicago prepare to perform Sleeping Beauty May 20–22.


Pointe: How many current Joffrey dancers came through the Academy?
Ashley Wheater:
In the two years since it opened, I’ve hired four into the company.

PT: When you attend a student performance, what do you want to see?
AW: That they understand the ballet they’re performing. The classics are hard and demanding because if you make a mistake, we all know it. But you can’t forget that technique is just a means to an end. Aurora should burst onto the stage with joy, knowing that everyone is there to celebrate her 16th birthday. Think about why those particular steps are in there. Doing them nicely is just the beginning.

PT: What do you look for in students you’re considering hiring?
AW: You’ve got to be able to apply the style the choreographer is asking for. I don’t just look for talent, but how dancers learn—both the steps and the music. They have to know how to be a corps dancer. Are they aware of where they are on the stage? Do they remember corrections? I also look for people who are really versatile, and who show they understand that all movement comes from the spine.

PT: What makes your eye gravitate to one student over another onstage?
AW:  My eye always goes to the dancer who really knows how to breathe with the music. Even if she’s moving absolutely together with a corps of 32 people, she always stands out.

LADP's Rachelle Rafailedes leading a workout. Photo by Studio 6, Courtesy Sunshine Sachs.

If your usual workouts are feeling stale, Benjamin Millepied's L.A. Dance Project might be able to help. The contemporary ballet troupe recently launched an online exercise platform that puts its stars in your living room.

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Video still by Nel Shelby Productions, Courtesy Dancio.

"What if you could learn from the world's best dance teachers in your living room?" This is the question that Dancio poses on their website. Dancio is a new startup that offers full length videos of ballet classes taught by master teachers. As founder Caitlin Trainor puts it, "these superstar teachers can be available to students everywhere for the cost of a cup of coffee."

For Trainor, a choreographer and the artistic director of Trainor Dance, the idea for Dancio came from a sense of frustration relatable to many dancers; feeling like they need to warm up properly before rehearsals, but not always having the time, energy or funds to get to dance class. One day while searching the internet for a quick online class, Trainor was shocked to not be able to find anything that, as she puts it, "hit the mark in terms of relevance and quality. I thought to myself, how does this not exist?" she says. "We have the Daily Burn for Fitness, YogaGlo for yogis, Netflix for entertainment and nothing for dancers! But then I thought, I can make this!" And thus, Dancio (the name is a combination of dance and video), was born.

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New York City Ballet in "George Balanchine's The Nutcracker." Photo by Paul Kolnik, Courtesy Lincoln Center.

Nutcracker season is upon us, with productions popping up in on stages in big cities and small towns around the country. But this year you can catch New York City Ballet's famous version on the silver screen, too. Lincoln Center at the Movies and Screen Vision Media are presenting a limited engagement of NYCB's George Balanchine's The Nutcracker at select cinemas nationwide starting December 2. It stars Ashley Bouder as Dewdrop and Megan Fairchild and Joaquin De Luz as the Sugarplum Fairy and Cavalier.

While nothing beats seeing a live performance (the company's theatrical Nutcracker run opens Friday), the big screen will no doubt magnify some of this production's most breathtaking effects: the Christmas tree that grows to an impressive 40 feet, Marie's magical spinning bed, and the stunning, swirling snow scene. Click here to find a participating movie theater near you—then, go grab some popcorn.

Artists of Pennsylvania Ballet rehearsing for "The Sleeping Beauty" for the 2017/18 season. Photo by Arian Molina Soca, Courtesy Pennsylvania Ballet.

Today the Pennsylvania Ballet's board of trustees announced the appointment of Shelly Power as its new executive director. Having been involved in the five-month international search, company artistic director Angel Corella said in a statement released by PAB that he's "certain Shelly is the best candidate to lead the administrative team that supports the artistic vision of the company." Power's official transition will begin in February. This news comes at the end of a few years of turmoil and turnover at PAB, including the departure of former executive director David Gray in June.

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Pointe Stars
Tiler Peck with Andrew Veyette in "Allegro Brillante." Photo by Paul Kolnik, Courtesy New York City Ballet.

"I was particularly excited when I saw my name on casting for Allegro Brillante in 2009," remembers principal dancer Tiler Peck. "Balanchine had said Allegro was, 'everything I know about classical ballet in 13 minutes,' and of course that terrified me." To calm her fear, Peck followed her regular process for debuts: begin by going back to the original performers to get an idea of the quality and feeling of the ballet and ballerina. "It is never to imitate, but rather to surround myself with as much knowledge from the past as I can so that I can find my own way," says Peck.

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

Catching a performance of The Nutcracker has long been a holiday tradition for many families. And now, more and more companies are adding sensory-friendly elements to specific shows in an effort to make the classic ballet inclusive to children and adults with special needs.

While the accommodations vary depending on the company, many are presenting shorter versions of the ballet with more relaxed theater rules. Additionally, lower sound and stage light levels during the performance, as well as trained staff on hand, make The Nutcracker more accessible for those on the autism spectrum and others with special needs.

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 has also offered sensory-friendly versions of Jorden Morris' Peter Pan and Lew Christensen's Beauty and the Beast in the past.

See our list of sensory-friendly performances, and check out each site for all of the details regarding their offerings.

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Your Best Body
Pilates hundred intermediate set-up, modeled by Jordan Miller. Photo by Emily Giacalone.

The Pilates hundred is a popular exercise used by many dancers for conditioning and warming up, but it's also one of the most misunderstood. Pumping your arms for 100 counts sounds simple enough, but it requires coordinated breathwork, a leg position that suits your abilities and proper alignment. Marimba Gold-Watts, who works with New York City Ballet dancers at her Pilates studio, Articulating Body, breaks down this surprisingly hard exercise. When done correctly, the benefits are threefold: "If you're doing it before class," she says, "the hundred is a great way to get your blood flowing and work on breath control and abdominal support all at once."

To Start

Lie on your back with knees bent and feet on the floor. Nod your chin toward the front of your throat, and reach your fingertips long.

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