What's going on in ballet this week? We've pulled together some highlights.
The Bolshoi Premiere of John Neumeier's Anna Karenina
Last July Hamburg Ballet presented the world premiere of John Neumeier's Anna Karenina, a modern adaptation on Leo Tolstoy's famous novel. Hamburg Ballet coproduced the full-length ballet with the National Ballet of Canada and the Bolshoi, the latter of which will premiere the work March 23 (NBoC will have its premiere in November). The production will feature Bolshoi star Svetlana Zakharova in the title role. This is especially fitting as Neumeier's initial inspiration for the ballet came from Zakharova while they were working together on his Lady of the Camellias. The following video delves into what makes this production stand out.
Exciting news today: the USA International Ballet Competition has just announced its list of invited competitors for the summer 2018 competition. The USA IBC has invited 119 dancers from 19 countries out of over 300 applicants to compete in Jackson, MS June 10-23.
Since the last USA IBC in 2014 the competition has expanded its age limits; the junior category now allows dancers ages 14-18 and the senior category dancers ages 19-28. Of the 119 competitors this year, 53 are juniors and 66 are seniors. The United States has the highest number of competitors invited (52), followed by Japan (23) and South Korea (14). The other countries represented are Armenia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Columbia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Mexico, Mongolia, Peru, Philippines, Ukraine and the United Kingdom.
The latest front in the controversy over the underrepresentation of female choreographers in ballet is at Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal. They're facing a petition and choreographer resignation that forced them to rebrand a season and publicly defend their programming.
On February 26, artistic director Ivan Cavallari, who started the job in the summer of 2017, announced the 2018-2019 season, which included a program titled Femmes. The program announcement said the evening would have "woman as its theme," and that Cavallari had "chosen three distinctive voices, rising stars of choreography, to undertake this great subject."
The three voices Cavallari chose to create on the theme of women, however, were all men.
"This was just too much for me, it was the last straw," says Kathleen Rea, a former member of National Ballet of Canada who now freelances, choreographs and teaches in Toronto. Rea says she's been bothered by the dearth of women choreographers throughout her career. But referring to women as "subjects" and excluding them from choreographing on a program about them compelled her to take action.
Summer is the perfect time for busy dancers to get some much-needed rest after a long season. But it's also a good opportunity to hone your technique. Summer training opportunities for professionals are scarce, although the ones that do exist are pretty great. Now, there is a welcome addition on the horizon that we're excited about.
Choreographer and former Houston Ballet principal Dominic Walsh recently announced that he has teamed up with the Colorado Conservatory of Dance to create the Compass Coaching Project, a two-week intensive for dancers over the age of 17. Held June 4–16 in the Denver suburb of Broomfield, the workshop is specially tailored for those in trainee, second company and apprentice positions. "In today's model of a dancer's profession, there is sometimes a long transition between student and professional," Walsh says in a statement. "I believe this is a crucial time for mentorship." Indeed, a dancer's early career is often marked by anxiety and uncertainty as they spend one or more years in low-paid or unpaid junior ranks.
Ever since we heard that Michaela DePrince's memoir, Taking Flight, was going to be a movie, we've been on the edge of our seats waiting for more info. Almost three years later, it's been worth the wait—we just learned that the Queen of Pop herself will be directing DePrince's biopic.
"Michaela's journey resonated with me deeply as both an artist and an activist who understands adversity," Madonna said in a statement. "We have a unique opportunity to shed light on Sierra Leone and let Michaela be the voice for all the orphaned children she grew up beside."
In October, Nevada Ballet Theatre announced that Roy Kaiser, the former longtime artistic director of Pennsylvania Ballet, was heading west to take the helm of the 35-member, Las Vegas–based company previously led by James Canfield. Kaiser took over in the midst of the 2017–18 season; the 2018–19 season has not been announced yet. Below, Kaiser shares his hopes for the company's future.
What have you been working on since you left Pennsylvania Ballet in 2014?
I have always kept my hand in the business; I've been doing a lot of guest teaching, and from time to time a little bit of consulting work.
What drew you to Nevada Ballet Theatre?
I was approached for the job, and while going through the process of being a candidate I was struck by the history of this company and the fact that it's now in its 46th season. And the community that I found in Las Vegas not only has a great spirit about it, but is very interested in developing the total arts scene, not just ballet. It seemed like a wonderful challenge and opportunity to do something really important here in the city.
From celebrations of Jerome Robbins' centennial to exciting premieres to old classics, this week is jam packed with ballet. We rounded up highlights from eight companies to give you a sense of what's happening onstage this week.
The Washington Ballet
On March 14, The Washington Ballet will present a triptych of new works. Gemma Bond's premiere ties-in to Women's History Month, and she discusses the connection in this video. Also on the bill are creations by celebrated dancers Clifton Brown and Marcelo Gomes. For video teasers of their works, click here.
Mattel has just announced the newest 14 dolls in its Barbie Global Role Model series, and we're thrilled to see that San Francisco Ballet principal Yuan Yuan Tan has made the list. Tan joins the ranks of Misty Copeland, who was immortalized in Barbie form just last year.
The Barbie Shero program honors real women who have broken boundaries in their fields, and can act as an inspiration to the next generation of girls. Tan certainly fits that bill. She was both the youngest dancer ever promoted to principal in SFB's long history and the first Chinese-born ballerina to maintain a principal position at the top of the American ballet world. Her doll wears her Swan Lake Odette costume and is in relevé in white shoes (though any bunhead knows that those untucked ribbons would never pass). "It's important to me that young girls know that they can be anything they want to be, so they should dream big and never give up," Tan told the San Francisco Chronicle.