To what do you attribute your success?
To my work. I had to make a real effort to get to where I am because I didn’t have the qualities that the Opéra required. Technique came easily to me, but it took me a while to realize that the company doesn’t care if we can do three turns; they want two clean, beautiful ones.
What’s your best memory on stage?
My promotion to étoile, because the circumstances were pretty unusual. There was a strike that day, so we danced Nutcracker without sets or costumes. I really didn’t expect it to happen then, so it was very special.
Is there anything about your body you would change?
I’d love to have really nice feet. Mine are strong and allow me to do a lot technically, but I’d like to keep that strength and also have high arches. They finish the movement so beautifully.
Do you have any pre-performance rituals?
I eat pasta, and I take a nap! I love to sleep. It helps me relax. I wake up two hours before the show and don’t have time to stress out, so I just get ready.
What skill would you most like to have?
I’d love to be more knowledgeable, to have more of a general education. I joined the company young, so I didn’t graduate from high school, and I don’t have a great memory, so even when I read a book, I forget it. I wish I had studied philosophy.
What’s the least glamorous part of being a dancer?
The strict lifestyle we have to adhere to. We can’t just go out or drink until 3 am if we’re rehearsing the next day. You need to know when you can have fun and when you have to be serious. It’s still pretty glamorous, though!
What would you bring with you to a desert island?
Sunscreen. And chocolate—I always have some in my dressing room.
To what do you attribute your success?
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 also offers sensory-friendly versions of Jorden Morris' Peter Pan and Lew Christensen's Beauty and the Beast throughout the year.
See our list of sensory-friendly performances, and check out each site for all of the details regarding their offerings.
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."
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.
At just 16 years old, the Bolshoi Ballet's Maria Alexandrova already had the makings of a great artist. In this variation from Coppélia, she portrays the carefree Swanilda with blithe, youthful ease.
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.
Swanilda has been one of Alexandrova's signature roles throughout her career. For a fun side by side, watch her perform the same variation almost 20 years later in this video. Although Alexandrova formally retired from the Bolshoi in February, she still performs frequently in Moscow and internationally as a guest artist. Happy #ThrowbackThursday!
You're probably already following your favorite dancers on Instagram, but did you know that you can follow many of their dogs, too? We rounded up some of our favorite dog-centered accounts and hashtags to keep you pawsitively entertained (sorry, we can't help ourselves).
Cora and Maya (American Ballet Theatre's Sarah Lane and Luis Ribagorda)
Sarah Lane and Luis Ribagorda's pups Cora and Maya update their profile pretty frequently. Often accompanying Lane to the ABT studios, they can also be seen using tutus or piles of pink tights as dog beds.
If you haven't checked your local movie listings yet for this weekend, hop to it. The Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema series and Fathom Events is broadcasting a performance of Jean-Christophe Maillot's The Taming of the Shrew to theaters nationwide on Sunday, November 19. (To see if it's playing near you and to purchase tickets, click here.) While the rest of the Bolshoi's cinema season features 19th- and 20th-century classics, The Taming of the Shrew gives audiences a chance to see the revered Moscow company in a thoroughly modern, 21st-century take on Shakespeare's famous play.
Aside from a limited run in New York City this July, American audiences have had little exposure to Maillot's 2014 production. To learn more, check out these two exclusive, behind-the-scenes webisodes below. Principal dancer Ekaterina Krysanova, who stars as the hotheaded Katharina, gives an intimate play-by-play of two major scenes in Act I. The first is her fiery rejection of three potential suitors (who all would prefer to marry Katharina's younger sister Bianca).
The second scene breaks down Katharina's first encounter with Petruchio (danced by the larger-than-life Vladislav Lantritov), the only man who seems to be able to challenge her. Here, too, we see the shrew's heart start to soften. (Don't miss her time-stopping attitude turn at 4:27.)
The Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema Series continues through June; for more details on upcoming screenings, click here.
Nutcracker-ed out? Or just can't get enough holiday ballets? These unique Nutcracker interpretations and non-Nutcracker productions will make your season bright.
The Hip Hop Nutcracker
Through December 30
Tchaikovsky's masterful Nutcracker score isn't just for classical ballet…
Hip Hop + a live DJ + an electric violinist unite in The Hip Hop Nutcracker, currently touring the U.S.
Familiar characters such Drosselmeyer, the Nutcracker, Mouse King and Marie (here called Maria-Clara) dance through an updated New York City storyline with choreography by Jennifer Weber, artistic director of the Brooklyn-based theatrical hip hop company Decadancetheatre.
Premiered in 2014, The Hip Hop Nutcracker is produced by New Jersey Performing Arts Center.