What’s your latest discovery?
I love yoga! If I could, I would take yoga classes all the time. I do Bikram. The great thing is you can go all over the world and it’s the exact same sequence, every single class.
What currently inspires you?
Working with Alexei Ratmansky. From the time I was in school, people thought of me in crown-and-tutu roles because I was very classical. It was hard to make them believe me in anything else. Then Twyla Tharp created a lot of things on me: How Near Heaven, Americans We. I think it opened up people’s eyes: “She can do something else!”
How do you prep your pointe shoes?
I crunch them in the door. I used to do that at home and my mom hated it because it would unhinge the door. Now in the theater, the big doors are very heavy, so it’s no problem. Prepping depends on the ballet. When I put my shoes away, I have ballets written on them—“Romeo and Juliet, Act I,” because I need them softer or “Swan Lake, Act II,” because I need them not to make too much noise.
How do you relax in your off time?
I usually go home to Buenos Aires. I’m very attached to my family, and to my country. Also the audience there is wonderful. I do the best I can to wear my country’s flag in the best possible way.
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
I am not technological—at all. I don’t own an iPhone or iPad. In my computer, I just email. I would much rather write cards and letters with stamps. I’m very old-fashioned. People make fun of me, but I don’t know how Facebook works.
Which role do you most identify with?
People always identify me with Don Q. It was the first ballet I danced professionally. My first rehearsal at ABT was for the seguidilla in Act I. My first soloist role was Amor. And there’s a video of me dancing Kitri. It’s a ballet that’s been with me my whole career.
How do you feel about everyone being obsessed with your feet?
That’s funny. I never thought about that. A lot of people have beautiful feet, but they don’t use them. I always felt lucky to have nice feet, so I had this double responsibility to work on them and use them. I didn’t know people paid so much attention to my feet! It’s nice to hear.
What’s your latest discovery?
Clear your schedule now for Monday, January 29th, 2:45PM (EST)/ 11:45AM (PST). Pacific Northwest Ballet will be live-streaming rehearsal from Kent Stowell's Swan Lake, straight from their Seattle, WA-based studios. To psych us up for their on stage performances February 2nd - 11th, PNB is letting us in on their Act II rehearsal.
From the corps of swans to Odette and Prince Siegfried's pas de deux, and the infamous four swans, this rehearsal is not to be missed. You can sign up now for a live-stream reminder on their site. In the meantime, we'll be brushing up on our Cygnets with this PNB sneak peek.
Rigorous program, check. Well-rounded technical training, check. Purposeful liberal arts curriculum, check. Study your craft abroad, check! If you are looking for all the above, the Joan Phelps Palladino School of Dance at Dean College truly has it all.
When Miami City Ballet artistic director Lourdes Lopez was a principal dancer at New York City Ballet, she missed her opportunity to honor Jerome Robbins onstage. "Every time there was a celebration for Jerry, I was either injured or had just retired," says Lopez. "I was never able to publicly thank him onstage for all that he taught us and the beauty he left us."
But when Lopez was planning MCB's Jerome Robbins Celebration for the 100th anniversary of the legend's birth, she saw an opportunity. She asked the Robbins Trust to allow her to perform the Ringmaster in Robbins' Circus Polka, a role the choreographer originated himself.
Videos are a great alternative when auditioning in person isn't possible. Here are some general guidelines for making a good impression.
1. Follow directions. Before filming, research what each school you're interested in requires. "It demonstrates your ability to follow instructions, and schools pay attention to that," says Kate Lydon, artistic director of American Ballet Theatre's summer intensives and the ABT Studio Company. "If the guidelines haven't been followed, your video might not be watched the whole way through." You may need to make multiple versions to accommodate different schools.
2. Videos should be no longer than 10 minutes. "Keep it short, simple and direct," advises Philip Neal, dance department chair at The Patel Conservatory and artistic director of Next Generation Ballet. "You have to be sensitive to how much time the director has to sit down and look at it." Barre can be abbreviated, showing only one side per exercise, alternating. Directors will be looking at fundamentals—placement, turnout, leg lines, stability—but don't ignore musicality or movement quality. Make sure music choices match combinations and are correctly synced in the footage.
They say that pigeons mate for life—perhaps that's why these birds naturally symbolize the young lovers in Sir Frederick Ashton's The Two Pigeons. In these two clips from a 1987 performance in Pisa, Alessandra Ferri and Robert LaFosse—then stars with American Ballet Theatre and New York City Ballet, respectively—dance a rapturous pas de deux at the end of Act II. With tiny pricks of her feet and bird-like flaps of her elbows in Part 1, Ferri marks her anguish, thinking she's been abandoned for another woman. Later, both she and LaFosse grow more and more entangled as they reconcile, Ferri dancing with the passionate abandon she's famous for. I love how in Part 2 (0:20), they can't seem to get enough of each other as their necks arch and intertwine. At the end of the ballet, two pigeons fly in to perch symbolically on the chair—er, there's supposed to be two. It looks like one missed its cue at this performance! No matter—Ferri and LaFosse's dancing make it clear that these young lovers are meant to be together for life. Happy #TBT!
This story originally appeared in the December 2010/January 2011 issue of Pointe.
As a young student at a small ballet school in upstate New York, I was obsessed with getting into the School of American Ballet. From the age of 10, I entered class each day with the ultimate goal of studying at SAB dangling before me like a carrot on a stick. Every effort I made, every extra class I took was for the sole purpose of getting into what I thought was the only ballet school that really mattered.
I auditioned for SAB's summer program for the first time when I was 12. In the weeks that followed, I became a vulture hovering over my family's mail, squawking at my mother if the day's letters were not presented for my inspection when I walked through the door. The day the letter finally arrived, it was thin and limp. I cried for a week as I dealt with the crushing feeling of rejection for one of the first times in my life.
My mind filled with questions and self-doubt. What was wrong with me? Why wasn't I good enough? I figured I must be too fat, too slow, my feet too flat. I had worked so hard. I had wished on every fallen eyelash and dead dandelion in pursuit of my single goal, just to have a three-paragraph form letter conclude that I was a failure. For a while, I let myself wallow in the comfort of my resentment, content to believe that success should have come easily, and that to fall was the same as to fail.