Who doesn't love a good behind-the-scenes video? As part of their new web series, American Doers, People magazine followed New York City Ballet's Amar Ramasar around for a day. For fans of the charismatic and vibrant (not to mention stylish) principal dancer, the video does not disappoint.
We see Ramasar coaching the series host, James Marshall, through a simple combination in the company's Lincoln Center studios; troubleshooting a challenging partnering sequence with fellow principal Sara Mearns in rehearsal; and getting physical therapy to ease the pain that comes with a 13-hour dance day. In these moments, we get an unfiltered glimpse into the daily goings-on of company life.
But the video doesn't only take us through Ramasar's typical schedule—through his words, it also gives insight into the drive and determination that propelled him to where he is today. Ramasar recounts his childhood in the Bronx, where "all the kids on my block wanted to be baseball players, basketball players, rappers...and I wanted to do ballet." He got a late start at age 12, and sometimes lied to friends about his love of dance to avoid being teased. A telling moment comes when he describes a conversation he had with his uncle, at age 15. "I asked my uncle what was the best ballet company in the world, and he told me the New York City Ballet," Ramasar says. "I told him, at that time, 'I'm gonna dance for that company.' "
It's one thing to be captivated by the performers we see onstage, but there's something equally thrilling about getting a sense of who they are in the studio, and the experiences that led them there. Check out the full video below:
At Pointe, we're always ready to watch a good ballet video, especially one that takes us behind the scenes with some of today's most talented performers. An episode of the series NYC-ARTS, which aired on PBS yesterday, pretty much hits the video jackpot. It profiles not one, but three American Ballet Theatre dancers: corps de ballet member Calvin Royal III, soloist Skylar Brandt and principal Stella Abrera.
The video catches up with the dancers in the midst of ABT's spring season, which opened with a festival celebrating artist-in-residence Alexei Ratmansky, and continues with the much-anticipated U.S. premiere of The Golden Cockerel next week.
There's gorgeous footage of the dancers in class, and rehearsing ballets like Ratmansky's Firebird and Serenade after Plato’s Symposium (which had its world premiere this season). But the best part is hearing the dancers reflect on their personal journeys to ABT, and what being in the company means to them now.
Each is at a different stage in their career, and has a unique perspective. Royal talks about getting a late start in ballet (he didn't take his first class until he was accepted to performing arts high school as a teenager), and what he's learned from being in the corps. Brandt shares what it's like to work with Ratmansky in the studio, and talks about performing her first principal role in his Piano Concerto #1. And Abrera reflects on her long career with the company, from struggles with injury to her triumphant promotion to principal last year.
In one of the video's most moving moments (at 9:15), Abrera describes how, as a corps dancer in Swan Lake, she would glance at the "ABT" stamp on the scenery to remind herself how hard she'd worked to get there. "That euphoric feeling of being in the company I dreamed of being in for my whole childhood—that's still in me now," she says.
If you're missing Teen Vogue's "Strictly Ballet" web series, and the behind-the-scenes access it offered, you'll love the new video they released last week—this time peeking into a rehearsal of the ABT Studio Company.
The promising young dancers performed at the Joyce Theater last weekend, and in the video, they're preparing for the New York premiere of Murmuration, by British choreographer George Williamson. (Some have since been promoted into the company.) We get a sense of their determination, focus and artistry as they work through difficult phrases and absorb his directions. And Williamson talks about his artistic process and his experience working with the dancers. “You give them the material, but you can’t tell them how to take every step," he says at one point. "I think that’s part of learning to be a mature dancer.”
The video also captures the smaller moments and details that make the rehearsal process beautiful, like a younger student standing in the doorway to watch, or a pointe shoe-clad foot slowly turning in a circle on the studio floor. Check it out below:
Chances are you've heard a lot about Starz's "Flesh and Bone" over the past year, from its casting choices (22 professional dancers make up the show's fictional ballet company) to Sarah Hay's Golden Globe-nominated performance as a talented yet troubled young dancer who runs away from an abusive home to join a New York City ballet company.
But have you seen it yet? For those who have been eagerly waiting, here's a piece of welcome news: the series was recently released on DVD and Blu-ray. Full disclosure: due to depictions of graphic sexuality and drug use, this show has a MA rating and is not for kids. But while the show's mature content and dark themes don’t always present the ballet world in the best light, there's no doubt that it also features some pretty great dancing—as evidenced in the exclusive behind-the-scenes clip below. The video provides a glimpse of choreographer Ethan Stiefel working with the dancers on two ballets: Balanchine's "Rubies," and a new work that Stiefel created for the series.