After Hurricane Harvey flooded Houston Ballet's facilities and damaged its home theater, the Wortham Center, the company wasted no time finding temporary rehearsal space and rescheduling its first two programs of the season at the nearby Hobby Center. But today, the Texas company faced another major blow: The Wortham Center announced that it will be closed for repairs until at least mid-May. That means Houston Ballet now needs to reschedule more than half of its season—including 34 performances of Nutcracker.
A scene from Stanton Welch's "Nutcracker. Photo via Facebook.
As everyone in the dance world knows, Nutcracker is a major financial lifeline for American ballet companies. Houston's production, choreographed by artistic director Stanton Welch with sets and costumes by Tim Goodchild, was brand-new last year. (Fortunately, the company moved its sets and costumes to a safe location during the storm.) Finding space for a month-long run will surely not be easy, and the Hobby Center looks booked. While there's no news of a backup plan yet, here's hoping Houston Ballet will receive some Nutcracker magic—and be able to find a new home for this year's production. We'll keep you posted once they do.
On the heels of his successful 2015 project INTENSIO , American Ballet Theatre principal Daniil Simkin is presenting a new multi-media work at the Guggenheim Museum's Works & Process series set in the museum's multistoried rotunda. "The rotunda is iconic, white and symmetrical," he says. "Having dance and projection in there is an amazing sight." The new work, created by Hubbard Street Dance Chicago resident choreographer Alejandro Cerrudo, is titled Falls the Shadow and will premiere September 4.
From Polina to Anatomy of a Male Ballet Dancer, there are plenty of ballet-themed films hitting movie theaters this month. But if you're looking for something to share with the ballet-loving youngster in your life (or just want to channel your inner dance-happy tween), Leap! might be for you. Released in France in 2016 under the title Ballerina, this animated film tells the story of Félicie (Elle Fanning), an 11-year-old French orphan who arrives in Paris with her best friend, fellow orphan and aspiring inventor Victor, during the height of the Belle Époque. Félicie dreams of becoming a ballerina at the Paris Opéra Ballet. Penniless and with nothing to lose, Félicie finds guidance in POB theater caretaker Odette (played by pop singer Carly Rae Jepsen) and "borrows" the identity of a spoiled brat in order to enter the Opera Ballet School.
While training at the school, Félicie comes up against mean girl Camille, voiced by "Dance Moms" star Maddie Ziegler. In a classic Center Stage-style plot, Camille is pushed by her mother to dance without truly loving it, whereas Félicie dances from a true sense of passion. In order to make the film's dancing look realistic, directors Eric Summer and Éric Warin used keyframe animation of POB artistic director Aurélie Dupont and étoile Jérémie Bélingard's dancing. It's always nice to see real dancers consulted when dance is represented in the realm of pop-culture, and from what we've seen the animated characters' technique looks spot-on (er, with some flying feats thrown in.)
With most of American Ballet Theatre's classical repertoire under her belt, principal Isabella Boylston is ready for a new challenge, specifically, launching Ballet Sun Valley, a dance festival with educational outreach in her hometown of Sun Valley, Idaho. "I'm in a place in my career where I can expend a little more creative energy on outside projects," she says. This year, her long-held dream will become reality, with performances on August 22 and 24, and free dance classes on August 23. "Sun Valley has a successful symphony, and a lot of people are interested in the arts," Boylston says. "When I was there three years ago, I realized the Sun Valley Pavilion would be the perfect venue for dance." Hilarie Neely, Boylston's first ballet teacher, put her in touch with a team of executive producers who have assisted with fundraising and technical logistics.
Once Boylston knew the festival was happening, she was faced with the task of creating dynamic programming. "All the dancers I'm inviting are close friends who I've danced with before, and choreographers I have relationships with," she says. Audiences can expect classical repertoire, plus ballets by Justin Peck, Alexei Ratmansky and Pontus Lidberg.
Boston Ballet might be the new United Nations. The company's 2017-2018 roster was announced this morning, and the 65 dancers are representative of 15 different nationalities. Which countries are present at this ballet roundtable? Albania, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Cuba, Finland, France, Georgia, Italy, Japan, Paraguay, South Korea, Spain and the U.S.
The company boasts the addition of thirteen new dancers and nine promotions.
Our October/November 2016 cover star, Derek Dunn, is leaving Houston Ballet to join BB as a soloist.
Chrystyn FentroyRachel Neville Photography
On the morning of June 25, Festival Ballet Providence dancer Jordan Nelson was biking to meet a friend in Rhode Island when he was hit by a box truck. The driver drove off, leaving Nelson injured on the ground. The accident left Nelson with a fractured skull, serious concussion, broken clavicle, and abrasions down the right side of his body. He was unconscious for five days and suffered short term memory loss. Though doctors feared he might never be able to regain the memory and mobility to dance again, less than three weeks later Nelson is back in the studio. We checked in with him to hear about his inspirational recovery process and how his passion for dance motivated him.
When you woke up in the hospital were you immediately worried about dancing?
Definitely, because this upcoming season is very important to me, because we're doing Christopher Wheeldon's The American, which I believe is the first Wheeldon ballet the company has done. So for the whole month of June I was working hard on really pushing myself to get in shape and be as ready as possible for the start of the season. And the doctors originally told me I wouldn't be able to get back until January, if at all.
You've said that the hardest part of being in the hospital was not being able to move. What did you do to keep your spirits and your body active?
New York City Ballet's Tiler Peck is taking on a new role: curator. Announced this week, Peck's curatorial debut will come July 28-30 at BalletNOW 2017, a three-night run of classical and contemporary works featuring 24 international dance stars at the Music Center's Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles. Peck, a Southern California native who trained in Los Angeles, falls in line with ABT's Isabella Boylston who is also returning to her hometown this summer to share her craft with new audiences.
The emphasis of BalletNOW is on the relationship between new and old. Peck's choices pair classical dancers with their contemporaries in other dance genres including hip-hop, tap, and vaudeville. The diverse repertoire includes classics such as Christopher Wheeldon's After The Rain and George Balanchine's pas de deux from Rubies.
On Sunday, June 11th, two of Pacific Northwest Ballet's principal superstars—Carrie Imler and Batkhurel Bold—will take the stage for one last performance before retiring from the company. To celebrate their enduring careers (Imler joined PNB in 1995 and Bold in 1996), PNB asked Imler and Bold to choose their favorite ballets for the Season Encore Performance.
But don't worry if you can't make it to the show. Beginning here, at 6:30pm PST, PNB will be live-streaming the entire performance, which is comprised of the following seven experts and full works: