On Wednesday, June 19, Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival welcomes James Whiteside Presents to the outdoor Inside/Out stage. This will be the American Ballet Theatre principal's fourth time at the Pillow. He first came to the Massachusetts–based Dance Festival as a corps de ballet member of Boston Ballet in 2004. ("I was struck by the beauty of the place," he recalls.) Whiteside returned in 2010 with Avi Scher & Dancers and most recently with Daniil Simkin's Intensio in 2015.
Now, Whiteside is bringing a program of his own work, performed alongside muse and fellow ABT soloist Cassandra Trenary and actor/show maker Jack Ferver.
As any bunhead can attest, sometimes there is nothing more exhilarating than pure ballet technique in all its glory. Victor Gsovsky's famous plotless pas de deux, Grand Pas Classique, is a celebration of just that. In this clip from a 1993 gala, former Paris Opera Ballet étoiles Élisabeth Platel and Nicholas Le Riche's performance of the piece is pristine classical perfection. The dancers appear the epitome of elegance in crisp white costumes against a blue backdrop. From the moment the two touch hands and Platel whips into a double soutenu en dedans, you know you're in for a treat.
The adagio is delightfully dramatic; the score alternates between lyrical and allegro sections, and the choreography features intricate promenades and several unsupported balances for the ballerina. Both Le Riche and Platel bring a gorgeous sense of length and line to each step, a testament to their French training. Le Riche, just 21 years old here, sails through the endless tours and batterie in his variation. In Platel's, every sous-sus and coupé is as clean and stunning as her pirouettes and ballonnés. Her attention to detail makes the variation much more beautiful than just a series of tricks. The icing on the cake, however, are her fouettés. A little surprise flair makes the coda a showstopper, even after the spectacular pas. Happy #ThrowbackThursday!
Jennifer Kronenberg and Carlos Guerra are used to being the center of the action from their years as leading dancers at Miami City Ballet. But managing the whirl of activity at a rehearsal of their fledgling troupe, Dimensions Dance Theatre of Miami, is a whole other dizzying dimension—coaching ballets, fielding questions from a photographer and a dancer managing company logistics, squeezing in a quick self-coached rehearsal for themselves. Kronenberg perches on a bench as a costume designer hems her skirt, talking through schedules with Guerra before they hurl themselves into Ronald Savkovic's fraught Transparente, releasing real life tensions in choreographic drama.
Diana Vishneva gave her final performance with American Ballet Theater last month after 12 years as a principal. The Russian ballerina made her first appearance with ABT even earlier as a guest artist in 2003. In this video of Aurora's Act III variation from the same year, it's easy to see why Vishneva was in demand all over the world.
While Vishneva has become well known for her dramatic roles, as well as her contemporary work, she is simply exquisite in this quintessential classical variation. At some moments she dances with calm, regal precision; at others, like the manège at 1:40, she floats across the stage with the joy and abandon of a young princess on her wedding day. Her long, sinewy limbs make every movement luxurious, and perfectly accented details demonstrate her individual artistry.
Even though she is saying goodbye to New York, Vishneva's career is sure to keep up its spectacular pace as she heads back to Russia to continue dancing with the Mariinsky Ballet, her home company of 22 years, and to work on new projects. The world will be watching to see what she does next! Happy #ThrowbackThursday!
Karen Kain is internationally renowned as a performer and as the National Ballet of Canada's artistic director. The former NBoC principal always carries herself with the grace and sophistication of a true leader. However, in this 1976 clip from Giselle, the distinguished ballerina is convincingly naïve and bewildered in her interpretation of the mad scene.
Kain conveys Giselle's innocence at the start of the scene with pure, unaffected gestures and facial expressions. Then, after Albrecht betrays her, her eyes stare unfocused into the distance as if she's in a trance. Although this scene is mostly acting, Kain dances dreamily to the musical motif at 5:30 and conceals her technical strength in order to show the character's frailty. It takes a true ballerina to perform this heartbreaking and beautiful role, and with performances like this and her lifelong commitment to the art form, Kain proves that she is an extraordinary one. Happy #ThrowbackThursday!
If you, like many of us here at Pointe, wish you could have seen Royal Ballet star Zenaida Yanowsky's retirement performance on June 7, you're in luck. The Royal will screen a recording of it in select movie theaters across the U.S. starting Sunday, June 25. (In many cities, it will be screened on Tuesday, July 11.) The program includes three works by the company's founding choreographer, Sir Frederick Ashton: The Dream, Symphonic Variations and Marguerite and Armand—the latter of which stars Yanowsky and Roberto Bolle. You can also catch other Royal favorites like Marianela Nuñez, Vadim Muntagirov, Steven McRae, Akane Takada and Yasmin Naghdi. Make sure to bring tissues!
To find dates, times and theaters near you, click here.
While we know you practically live in your leos and tights (and a tightly wound bun), summer is the perfect time to literally let your hair down and show off your style outside the studio.
Not sure where to start? Take a page from these pro dancers' ensembles. From classically chic to kooky and daring, these ballerinas know how to express themselves—on and off the stage. The #1 rule? There are no rules.