Daniel Ulbricht: Choreographer


New York City Ballet principal dancer Daniel Ulbricht, who regularly soars through such sensational roles as Balanchine’s Prodigal Son, recently took on a challenge that kept him focused on the classroom: He choreographed his first neoclassical ballet on 14 students from Ballet Academy East, the Manhattan school where he’s taught for the last two years, for the studio’s February performances.


Determined to work as efficiently as possible, he came to each rehearsal with a list of steps he’d thought of while listening to Rachmaninoff’s Second Suite for Two Pianos. If an inspiration led to a traffic jam of bodies, he eased the tension by saying, with a grin, “I think we’re going to have to work on this.” Advice a professional wouldn’t need—“Breathe when you take that step”—came as a revelation to the students.

“Daniel is a very positive, giving teacher,” says Darla Hoover, BAE associate artistic director. “He pays attention to each student during every class; his inspiration is contagious.”


After 10 years of dancing Balan­chine, Martins and Robbins, Ulbricht has absorbed a variety of ways to keep a stage alive. “I’m gratefully helping myself to what they taught me,” he says. “For example: Don’t try to match every note to a movement. Give the music room to breathe. Give the audience time to see the ballet.”


But why did he call his ballet Rachmaninoff 176? His answer reminds you that Ulbricht also dances the ultimate prankster, Puck, in Balanchine’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream: “The music was for two pianos. A piano has 88 keys. Do the math.” —Harris Green

Study In Salzburg


If company auditions are just around the corner but you don’t feel quite ready, brush up your professional skills this summer in Austria. Led by Salzburg Ballet director Peter Breuer, the Salzburg International Ballet Workshop immerses you in the life of a professional.


Dates: July 12–August 9.
Requirements: Open to advanced dancers ages 14–28. There is no deadline to apply, but space is limited to 90 students. 
Classes: Ballet, pointe, men’s, pas de deux, variations, repertoire, modern, jazz, choreography, Pilates
Extras: Resumé writing, audition preparation, stage makeup, lighting, costumes, photography sessions (for minimal extra charge)
Performances: Four shows in three different theaters, all filmed for students to use on an audition DVD.
Website: www.siba-academy.com

For The Love Of It


Can you put your passion for ballet into words? The Jessica Karrat Scholarship Fund annually awards scholarships of up to $1,000 to a handful of dancers who write an essay that convinces a selection committee that they truly love to dance. “We want to hear about your dreams, the way the music talks to you, the way you feel when you’re in front of an audience,” says Barbara Klinger, president of the fund. Applications (due June 30) are available at www.jkdance.org. —Jennifer Stahl

Dancing For Veggetti


This spring, Italian choreographer Luca Veggetti created Hibiki Hana Ma on six dance majors at SUNY Purchase. Junior Addison Reese says the biggest challenge was mastering Veggetti’s unique movement style: “It was unlike anything I’d ever done before.”
What is Veggetti like in rehearsal?
Very specific! He spoke a lot about impetus and how he wanted the energy  or tension to be kept or released.
How much were the dancers part of his process?
It was a lot of partnering, so instead of giving us exact steps, Luca would dance with us to see where we naturally felt we should go. Then he molded our movement from there.
How would you describe his movement?
It’s like a wave that never crashes—very muscular and never-ending.


Find out more about this project on DanceU101.com.

TIP: How can first-timers perform well at a competition?   
Everyone around you will be intensely nervous. The hardest part is waiting in the wings. Don’t watch the dancers before you, especially if the audience is very loud or very quiet. Keep stretching and focus on the artistry that you need to bring to the stage, but don’t overthink the steps—they should be in your body by that point. Once you get out there, dance the variation as if it’s the first time, and the last time.  
—Sara Michelle Murawski, corps de ballet, Dresden SemperOper Ballett

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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