New Work at The Royal
Though long a story ballet stronghold, The Royal Ballet has become a home for new choreography as well. During his first year at the company’s helm, artistic director Kevin O’Hare has made it clear that he’ll follow in the footsteps of his predecessor, Monica Mason—which means there are a lot of premieres on the horizon. “I want to build on what Dame Monica started,” O’Hare says. “New work is the lifeblood of the company.”

To wit: The Royal will perform its first Alexei Ratmansky commission, set to an orchestration of Chopin’s 24 Preludes, this February. “I approached Alexei before I even got the job,” O’Hare says. “I felt if I wasn’t appointed director, whoever was would be happy to have a new Ratmansky work.”

O’Hare also made up-and-coming talent Liam Scarlett The Royal’s first artist-in-residence last fall. Add in resident choreographer Wayne McGregor and artistic associate Christopher Wheeldon, and the company has a heady home team of choreographers generating new ballets, on top of its commissions. “What’s fantastic about Wayne, Christopher and Liam is the diversity of their styles,” O’Hare says. “And they know the company dancers so well they will bring out facets of their abilities that may not have otherwise been seen.”


Ballet San Jose Rebounds
Ever since Wes Chapman’s appointment as Ballet San Jose’s artistic consultant last January—following the controversial ousting of founding artistic director Dennis Nahat—ballet fans have wondered what the reinvented BSJ might look like. The answer? A bit like American Ballet Theatre, Chapman’s one-time home.

BSJ announced a partnership with ABT in December 2011, giving it access not only to the larger company’s teaching curriculum, but also to its coaches, costumes and sets. So in a way it’s not surprising that BSJ begins 2013 with three company premieres right out of the ABT playbook: the full-length Don Quixote (staged by Chapman) in February, and a repertory program that includes Sir Frederick Ashton’s Les Rendezvous and Thaïs Pas de Deux in March.

“We’re still trying to figure out the company’s identity,” says Chapman, who now serves as BSJ’s artistic advisor, and shares artistic leadership with principal ballet master Raymond Rodriguez. “But for me it’s natural to head in the ABT direction. I grew up there during the Baryshnikov era, and he was one of the greatest directors of the time. He had exquisite taste. So these days, I frequently find myself thinking, ‘What would Misha have done?’ ”

In future seasons, Chapman hopes to bring in a production of The Sleeping Beauty, as well as works by European choreographers like Jirí Kylián and Hans van Manen. He’s also planning a number of repertory commissions, with the first, a ballet by frequent ABT collaborator Jessica Lang, premiering in April. “This company is a strong, eclectic group of people,” Chapman says. “They’re hungry for new stuff, and the best way to feed them is to have them work with artists like Jessica.”


Rite of Spring Turns 100
Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, with choreography by Vaslav Nijinsky, shocked balletomanes at its Paris premiere in 1913. A century later, Stravinsky’s score has become one of the most frequently choreographed pieces of music in the world. Ballet companies everywhere are celebrating Rite’s centennial this year with performances of old and new versions of the work. Particularly notable is Millicent Hodson and Kenneth Archer’s reconstruction of Nijinsky’s original choreography. The Joffrey Ballet will tour it in the U.S. in February and March and the Mariinsky Ballet will perform it later in the spring.


Hamburg Ballet Brings Nijinsky to the U.S.
This February, Hamburg Ballet embarks on a U.S. tour that includes stops in San Francisco, Costa Mesa and, for the first time, Chicago. The highlight of the three-week excursion is Nijinsky, artistic director John Neumeier’s dark, kaleidoscopic retelling of Vaslav Nijinsky’s life. Neumeier, who is famously fascinated with the great dancer, has amassed the world’s largest private collection of Nijinsky artifacts. “I’ve learned so much through John,” says Hamburg principal Alexandre Riabko, the tour’s first-cast Nijinsky. “He brought photographs and lithographs to rehearsals, and told us: ‘It looks like Nijinsky is still dancing, even though his movements are frozen within a photo. He is never posing, but always alive in these images.’ That was my greatest inspiration for the role.”


Going Gaga at Atlanta Ballet
The works of Batsheva Dance Company artistic director Ohad Naharin—rooted in his improvisational, imagery-driven Gaga technique—have become staples for many contemporary dance companies. But a ballet company tackling Naharin? That’s a very different story.

When the Atlanta Ballet dancers found out they’d be performing Naharin’s Minus 16 this March, “we flocked to YouTube to get a sense of what exactly we were in for,” says company member Rachel Van Buskirk. “I knew a little about his work, but not much. It looked fun. And surreal. And, really, really hard.”

Van Buskirk has been exposed to improvisational techniques before, but “nothing as in-depth as Gaga,” she says. “The hardest part was letting go of my ballet impulse to make pretty shapes all the time. Gaga isn’t about shapes; it’s about interpreting words and feelings through movement.” Former Batsheva dancer Rachael Osborne, who set Minus 16 on AB, tried to ease the transition. “She knows we’re ballerinas,” Van Buskirk says, with a laugh. “Her whole approach is: Nothing you do is ‘wrong.’ She’d pick out different words to motivate each person, to get us closer to the look she wanted.”

It’s a process that has stretched the company dancers considerably, but they’ve relished the chance to branch out. “During one of our first rehearsals, there was a moment when we all looked around at each other and just shook our heads in disbelief, it was so different,” Van Buskirk says. “We were like: Is this happening? This is so cool.”






























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.


Keep reading... Show less
popular
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.

popular
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.

Keep reading... Show less
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.

Keep reading... Show less
popular
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 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.

Keep reading... Show less
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.

Keep reading... Show less
Pointe Stars

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!


Sponsored

Videos

Sponsored

mailbox

Get Pointe Magazine in your inbox

Sponsored

Win It!