Pointe Stars

Rebecca Krohn on Her Retirement from New York City Ballet... Plus Her Advice for Young Dancers

Krohn in Robbins' "Dancers at a Gathering." Photo by Paul Kolnik, Courtesy NYCB.

New York City Ballet principal dancer Rebecca Krohn will take her final bow with the company this Saturday night. Krohn joined NYCB as an apprentice in the fall of 1998 and slowly rose through the ranks, becoming a principal in 2012. Though Krohn is best known for her flawless execution of classic Balanchine leotard ballets, her repertoire is vast, spanning Jerome Robbins to Justin Peck. After dancing Stravinsky Violin Concerto with Amar Ramasar on Saturday, Krohn will return to the NYCB studios on Monday in a new role: ballet master. We had the chance to talk to the thoughtful and eloquent dancer about her time with the company and goals for the future.

Was New York City Ballet always your dream company?

As soon as I knew I wanted to be a professional dancer, I knew that I wanted to be in New York City Ballet. I moved to New York when I was 14 to train at the School of American Ballet, and I got my apprenticeship with the company when I was 17, so it was really a dream come true.


Krohn and Adrian Danchig-Waring in Balanchine's Stravinsky Violin Concerto. Video Courtesy NYCB.


What have been your favorite ballets or roles to dance?

Balanchine's Stravinsky Violin Concerto, which I'll dance for my final show, has always been a favorite, as well as Balanchine's Movements for Piano and Orchestra and Agon. Also Robbins' Dances at a Gathering... there are so many, it's hard to choose! I've always really loved the Balanchine black and white ballets, and there are some Robbins ballets that are always so fulfilling.

Can you think of a favorite moment with the company?

After almost 20 years there are countless things. In general I would say the time that I've had onstage with some of my friends and dancing partners has been so special. It's one thing to be a friend with someone and another to also share the stage with them. There's just an amazing sense of trust and spontaneity; I feel so connected when I'm out there. That's something I'll never forget.

What's the main way that your experience in the company has changed over the years?

As I was getting older the company all of a sudden started to seem younger and younger. When I became a soloist and especially a principal my relationship with the corps de ballet dancers shifted. I wanted to be someone that the young dancers could look up to; I wanted to reach out and connect to them more, and to offer support and advice.


Krohn and Amara Ramasar in Balanchine's "Movements for Piano and Orchestra." Photo by Paul Kolnik, Courtesy NYCB.

Did you always know that you wanted to stay on with the company?

It had been in the back of my mind for a number of years, but I didn't really address it formally until a year ago. I spoke to Peter (Martins), just to kind of let him know what I had been thinking. I wanted to hear how he felt about it, which was actually a little nerve-wracking, but he thought it was a great idea.

What are you most looking forward to in your new role?

I'd like to nurture the dancers and their talents; I'm always amazed to see how talented everyone is. The ballets that we have in our repertoire are so amazing—it's a great honor to be able to carry them on with the new dancers for the future.


Krohn with Robert Fairchild in Justin Peck's Everywhere We Go. Video Courtesy NYCB.

Is there someone who's teaching style or mentorship style you'd most like to emulate?

There are a couple of ballet masters that I've connected to. I'm very close to Karin von Aroldingen. Her undying passion for these pieces is incredibly inspiring. Susan Hendl has also been an inspiration. She has a wonderful talent of drawing out everyone's unique qualities and femininity.

What parts of your life outside of ballet do you most look forward to cultivating now that you'll have more time on your hands?

I'm looking forward to having more time to enjoy museums in the city. While I was dancing I didn't want to be up on my legs all day on my days off. I won't have to worry about that so much now, and I can spend my day off roaming around and being inspired. I also love to cook, so I'll get to cook a lot more and hopefully host more dinner parties.


Krohn and Company in Balanchine's "Serenade." Photo by Paul Kolnik, Courtesy NYCB.

Do you have a piece of advice for young dancers who are just starting out?

What's so special about ballet is the discipline that it instills. It's important for young dancers to really understand that that is what's taught to you in ballet class every day. It's an invaluable quality for a person to have, whether they continue to dance or end up doing other things.

My other piece of advice is that you have to treat each day as a new start. Some days you might not feel good about yourself, or things in your body might not be working well—every day is different. But you have to start fresh, be positive and move forward.

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If you're in the NYC area and are in need of weekend plans, you might want to consider heading to the Film Society of Lincoln Center to see Jean-Stéphane Bron's documentary, The Paris Opéra. While the film was originally released in France this past spring, it just made its way to the US on October 18th, and it chronicles the 2015-2016 season at the Paris Opera.

Encompassing the entire institution (which was founded in 1669 by King Louis XIV!), dancers will particularly enjoy an inside look at the Paris Opéra Ballet—both in rehearsals and onstage. Most notably, Bron captures the then POB director Benjamin Millepied as he decides to leave his position with the company barely a year after his appointment.

Check out the full trailer below, and the Film Society of Lincoln Center's full listing of showtimes here.

Your Training
Thinkstock.

Bianca Bulle was always prone to ankle sprains. When she was 18, her recoveries became more complicated: She started experiencing Achilles tendonitis due to muscle weakness and fluid buildup in the ankle. "The last thing to get back to normal would be my Achilles, which was so incredibly tight and painful," says Bulle, now a principal at Los Angeles Ballet.

The Achilles is the body's largest tendon, attaching the bottom of the calf muscles to the back of the heel. It contracts and releases as you relevé and plié, as well as when you jump and even walk. Tendonitis, or inflammation, of the Achilles is one of the most frequently reported overuse injuries among active people, according to the American Physical Therapy Association. You'll know it by the pain or tightness at the back of the heel. If the condition gets bad enough, the tendon can rupture, which requires surgery to fix.

Achilles tendonitis is especially common among dancers on pointe, but it's not inevitable. With rest and proper conditioning, you can work to avoid it with careful technique and a commitment to cross-training.


Boston Ballet School pre-professional students. Photo by Igor Burlak Photography, Courtesy Boston Ballet.

What Causes It?

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New York City Ballet in Marc Chagall's costume designs for Balanchine's "Firebird."

I am a self-confessed costume nerd who really needs little persuasion to travel nearly 3,000 miles to see a costume exhibition—which is what I did when I set off for California for the new exhibition at Los Angeles County Museum of Art: Chagall: Fantasies for the Stage. I knew Marc Chagall primarily for his sumptuous blue swirling paintings featuring violin-playing goats, his incredible ceiling at the Paris Opéra's Palais Garnier, and murals at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City, so I was intrigued to see his work with ballet.

Marc Chagall (1887–1985), was born Moishe Zakharovich Shagal in Belarus. He later moved to St. Petersburg, Russia, to study art, apprenticing under famed Ballets Russes designer Leon Bakst. Chagall's work in ballet and opera, however, did not begin until he and his wife Bella arrived in the U.S. as World War II refugees in 1941.

Chagall: Fantasies for the Stage, adapted from an earlier exhibition at the Montreal Music of Art and curated by Yuval Sharon and Jason H. Thompson, is an exciting opportunity to see 41 costumes and nearly 100 designs. But it is the costumes that really steal the show. You won't see any tutus here, but instead amazing, almost cartoon-like realizations of Chagall's artwork. LACMA's exhibition runs through January 7, 2018. For those of you who can't make the trip like I did, here's a rundown of highlights.

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Tiler Peck in "Who Cares?". Photo by Paul Kolnik, Courtesy NYCB.

New York City Ballet principal Tiler Peck and Emmy-winning actress Elisabeth Moss (of Mad Men and Handmaid's Tale fame) may seem like unlikely friends, until you dig a little deeper into their backgrounds. Both attended Westside School of Ballet in Santa Monica and spent summers at the School of American Ballet in their youths. Moss and Peck's career paths diverged when the former fell in love with acting and Peck went on to study at SAB full time, eventually becoming the star we know today. Now, the pairs' artistic pursuits are uniting in an exciting new project.

According to Deadline.com, Moss will produce a documentary featuring Peck and her work curating BalletNOW, last summer's star-studded, critically acclaimed program at Los Angeles's Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Peck was the first woman to lead BalletNOW's programming, and she brought together dancers from companies including The Royal Ballet, Miami City Ballet, American Ballet Theatre and the Paris Opéra Ballet, putting them on stage with tappers, clowns and break dancers (sometimes simultaneously).


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Your Best Body

Looking for creative and healthy ways to get your pumpkin fix this fall? First, back away from the pumpkin-spiced latte—the season's unofficial drink is often laced with sugary syrup and comes with a complimentary mid-rehearsal crash. Instead, try these simple snacks with puréed pumpkin. It's high in beta-carotene, which converts to immunity-boosting vitamin A, and is a good source of vitamin K, iron and fiber. You can buy it canned or make the purée from a "sugar" or "pie" pumpkin (they're commonly available at grocery stores or farm markets).

Fruit-and-Spice Toast

- Spread purée onto whole-grain toast.

- Top with sliced pear.

- Add a dash of cinnamon.

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Pointe Stars

When Maya Plisetskaya first toured abroad with the Bolshoi Ballet, she stunned the world. Her dramatic and technical abilities were far beyond what anyone outside the Soviet Union had seen before. She quickly became an icon, symbolizing Russian ballet.

Plisetskaya was the perfect ballerina to play the Tsar Maiden in The Little Humpbacked Horse when choreographer Alexander Radunsky and composer Rodion Shchedrin recreated the classic Russian folktale in the 1960s. This vintage clip of the ballet offers a glimpse into an era gone by. Although ballet technique has advanced since then, Plisetskaya's performance is still electrifying. She is daring and agile in her manèges and fouettés, while she shows gentle purity and authentic emotion in the pas de deux with the wide-eyed Ivan. Even half a century later, this magnificent artist continues to transfix us with her radiant presence onstage. Happy #ThrowbackThursday!


Pointe Stars
P.O. Alienz in Lavender Leotard; Paulina Waski modelling a Kreature Kulture t-shirt. Photos Courtesy Paulina Waski.

Walk into any ballet class and you're bound to see a row of dancers clad in leotards patterned with dainty flowers and lace. But nearly three years ago, American Ballet Theatre corps dancer Paulina Waski wore a very different kind of leotard to class—and her colleagues loved it. Now an average day at ABT includes any number of dancers in leotards featuring angry aliens, detached eyeballs and grinning monsters.

"My dad, John, is an artist, and he draws all these crazy creatures," Waski explains. "One year he did what he called his paper plate project; he drew a new creature onto a paper plate every single day for 365 days. I thought, 'he should put one on a leotard!' He screen printed one onto one of my old leotards himself, and when I wore it to class everyone was wowed." And so, Kreature Kulture was born.


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