Sylvie Guillem's Final Bow

Legendary ballerina and contemporary dancer Sylvie Guillem will give the only U.S. run of her farewell tour, Life in Progress, November 12–14 at New York City Center. The extensive tour has already hit Italy, Poland, the UK, Greece, Russia, France, Spain, Australia and Taiwan. It will continue on to Austria before the final performances in Japan, in December.

Guillem will dance in three of the four works on the program. Akram Khan’s new technê and Mats Ek’s Bye are both solos for Guillem. La Scala soloist Emanuela Montanari will join her onstage in Russell Maliphant’s Here & After (also a new work), while Brigel Gjoka and Riley Watts will perform William Forsythe’s Duo—a testament to Guillem’s appreciation of the choreographer’s influence.  
Guillem, who has made it clear that she will stop dancing while she still has pride in her artistry, has had a remarkable career spanning nearly 35 years. She will be 50 years old when she retires. She rocketed through the ranks at the Paris Opéra Ballet, and in 1984 Rudolf Nureyev appointed her, at age 19, to étoile. She went on to join The Royal Ballet as a principal guest artist and later transitioned into contemporary dance, developing collaborative partnerships with all of the choreographers featured in her farewell tour. —Nicole Loeffler-Gladstone


New York City Ballet’s Forward-Thinking Fall Season
New York City Ballet’s fall season is packed with world premieres, including three by choreographers who have never made work for the company.

NYCB resident choreographer Justin Peck and corps member Troy Schumacher will each create a new ballet. Schumacher’s second piece for NYCB will feature a commissioned score from Ellis Ludwig-Leone, the music director for Schumacher’s Ballet Collective and the frontman of the band San Fermin. Peck’s new work will feature Steve Reich’s Variations for Vibes, Pianos and Strings.

Audiences can also expect first-time work from Canadian Robert Binet, San Francisco Ballet corps member Myles Thatcher and UK-based artist Kim Brandstrup.
Binet and Thatcher are both early-career artists who’ve had huge opportunities to choreograph on major companies. Binet has made work on the National Ballet of Canada and for Wayne McGregor | RandomDance, while Thatcher has choreographed for SFB and recently participated in the Rolex Mentor & Protégé Arts Initiative. For their NYCB debuts, Binet will use two movements of Maurice Ravel’s Miroirs: “Oiseaux Tristes” and “Une Barque sur l’Océan,” while Thatcher has chosen the first movement of William Walton’s piano quartet in D minor.

Brandstrup’s premiere at NYCB will be his first work ever for an American company. He has received two Olivier Awards and has choreographed works for multiple companies, including The Royal Ballet, Royal Danish Ballet and Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal. He will create a ballet to Jeux, by Claude Debussy. —NLG

 

Wendy Whelan and Jock Soto Reunite in Hagoromo
This November, recently retired New York City Ballet principal Wendy Whelan will return to the stage alongside her longtime NYCB partner Jock Soto. The Brooklyn Academy of Music will pre­sent Hagoromo, a production directed by Whelan’s husband, the artist David Michalek.
 

Hagoromo is a classic story of Japanese Noh theater, which dates to the 14th century and combines music, storytelling and dance. The story tells of a humble fisherman who finds an angel’s robe and must return it to her so that she doesn’t die. The show will feature contemporary choreography by David Neumann and three silicone puppets, cast from Whelan’s own body, by Chris Green. Pointe spoke with Whelan before the premiere.

Why were you drawn to this project?
Both David and I have long shared a love of Japanese aesthetic. David always has a million ideas and I hear about them since we share a life together. But this one was special because it was about the chemistry between Jock and I, our maturity and experience, and how there are things we can do better now than ever. I knew he was attracted to Jock’s stage presence and how it resonates similarly with the aesthetic of Noh theater. There is still something rich and deep that can be performed, and I think it is a rare thing to be showing.

How are you using your ballet background in this show?
So far it is totally different than ballet. The only similarity is the emotional intensity it requires. Both the body and the design are not balletic in nature, but I can’t help but bring ballet to anything I do. However, I am not thinking of arabesques, but rather more about following a line of intention with discipline.

Have you ever danced David Neumann’s choreography or worked with puppets before?
No, the puppets and Neumann are an unknown to me. Neumann is known for being an awesome break dancer, and I am yet to be seen as renowned in that genre of dance. However, that’s the fascinating and challenging part, and I look forward to accentuating the movement of the joints and exploring more sliding movements on the floor. Though we have played and improvised a bit, working on a few of the Noh motifs and ideas, I think a lot of the movement will be putting pieces together to forge links: between the ancient and the modern, between the Neumann and the Whelan, between the puppets and the performer. —Candice Thompson








 

An Historic Moment for Alicia Alonso’s Giselle
After a financially rocky 2014–15 season, Ballet San Jose has successfully transformed itself into Silicon Valley Ballet. To celebrate, the company will open its 2015–16 season on October 16 with the first U.S. production of iconic Cuban ballerina Alicia Alonso’s version of Giselle.

SVB artistic director José Manuel Carreño is acutely aware of the significance of renewed relations between Cuba and the U.S. “We are living in an historic moment,” he says, “and, since it’s from Cuba, this version of Giselle will invite engagement across the cultural spectrum of Silicon Valley.” —NLG

 

Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema
The Bolshoi Ballet’s North American cinema season begins October 11, with screenings of Giselle. The season continues through April 2016, with Jewels, The Lady of the Camellias, The Nutcracker, The Taming of the Shrew, Spartacus and Don Quixote. For more information visit bolshoiballetincinema.com.  —NLG

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Angela Sterling, Courtesy of Pacific Northwest Ballet

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.

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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.

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Lopez in Circus Polka. Photo by Alexander Iziliaev, Courtesy MCB.

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.

Keep reading at dancemagazine.com.

Summer Study Advice
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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.

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Career
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I want to be a professional dancer, but my parents won't listen. They either don't think I can do it (contrary to what my teachers have said) or they won't let me take the necessary steps to become a professional. Please help. —Audrey

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Videos

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!

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Summer Study Advice
The author at 13, rehearsing at her home studio, Ballet Arts Theater, in Endicott, NY. Courtesy McGuire.

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.

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