Here at Pointe, we love dancers who use their talent to tap into other creative projects. For New York City Ballet corps dancers Emily Kikta and Peter Walker, their mutual love of choreography and film-making has yielded a major commission: creating eight short, site-specific films to promote NYCB's summer season at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. Shot on location in Saratoga Springs and nearby Troy, New York, the minute-long videos have been released one a day this week in advance of the season's opening on July 5. And we've got an exclusive sneak-peek at the last two films!
Company class is a little more exciting these days at Pacific Northwest Ballet. Look over in the corner of the studio and it's obvious why—Wendy Whelan is here. Dressed in a vest, with her pants tucked into her socks, one might almost forget that her name is virtually synonymous with the term ballet. But watch her do a devéloppé and you instantly remember. Her collection of accomplishments is extensive—classical ballerina, freelance artist, inspirational teacher, or even, as of late, documentary film star. But now, she's adding another new hat: ballet stager.
Pacific Northwest Ballet's Leta Biasucci on William Forsythe's The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude
As told to Amy Brandt
I first saw a video of The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude as a student at the San Francisco Ballet School summer program. Then we learned a little bit of it in variations class, and it made such an impression on me. It was unlike anything I had learned in my technique classes. It really opened my eyes, and I was so enchanted by this whole new dimension of ballet.
At 11 minutes long, it's very much a sprint. When you hear the first “da-da-da!" you know how exhausted you're going to feel by the end. But with that feeling of exhaustion comes this great sense of exhilaration—every moment of it is thrilling.
From April 20–May 6 2018, San Francisco Ballet will host a festival featuring an impressive roster of top choreographers.
SFB artistic director Helgi Tomasson has chosen choreographers with massive reputations and tons of experience. The full lineup is as follows: David Dawson, Alonzo King, Edwaard Liang, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, Cathy Marston, Trey McIntyre, Justin Peck, Arthur Pita, Yuri Possokhov, Dwight Rhoden, Stanton Welch, and Christopher Wheeldon. These artists have, collectively, worked with a tremendous variety of dance companies around the world. Their stylistic approaches are just as diverse.
There are several things to celebrate about this group. King, who has been the artistic director of San Francisco–based Alonzo King LINES Ballet since 1982, has (surprisingly) never made a ballet for SFB. It's high time the two major San Francisco companies pooled their powers. There is some racial diversity, with King, Rhoden, Ochoa and Liang representing decades of experience and leadership. Former Royal Opera House associate artist Cathy Marston seems to be receiving her first nod from a major American ballet company, despite a two-decade, international choreographic career (she has created for The Washington Ballet).
But, as usual, there are so few (too few) women. Recent conversations about gender parity in the ballet world might make it seem like female choreographers are only just now appearing—that there aren't women who can match the men in terms of an impressive resume. But that's not the case. Artists like Helen Pickett, Francesca Harper, Crystal Pite, Emery LeCrone, Jessica Lang, Azure Barton and Amy Seiwert have been around for a while, quietly creating for companies around the world, and oddly overlooked by most large American companies. It would have been great to see a few more experienced women alongside their accomplished male counterparts.
Pennsylvania is joining the ranks of companies like New York City Ballet, BalletX and more, which offer workshops to support early-career choreographers. At PA Ballet, four choreographers will have the opportunity to create work on PB II, the second company. Three are company members themselves: Russell Ducker and Alexandra Hughes dance in the corps, while Ekaterina Pokrovskaya a member of PB II. The fourth choreographer, Edgar Anido, has Cuban roots and is a former member of Complexions Contemporary Ballet and BalletX. Corella is cultivating local, and homegrown, talent.
Anido, Ducker, Hughes and Pokrovskaya, have diverse training backgrounds: Anido is versed in the slippery, grounded movement of contemporary ballet; Hughes is a former SAB student trained in Balanchine technique; Ducker was trained at the Royal Ballet School and previously danced in Corella's Barcelona Ballet; while Pokrovskaya received her training in Russia. Though all four are early-career choreographers, Ducker created several works for Barcelona Ballet and won choreographic awards while he was still a student.
The one-night-only performance will be on February 25, at 7:00pm.
Love it or hate it, this is the time of year when people start talking about New Year's Resolutions. While it's exciting to think about what you want to work on in 2017, it can also feel daunting—especially because we often set unrealistic goals for ourselves, and wind up frustrated a few months in. Breaking resolutions down into small, attainable steps can help keep you motivated, and seeing positive results. To get you started, we pulled together a few tips for tackling some common dance-related goals.
Many ballet companies offer opportunities for emerging choreographers to test their chops, but few can boast sustained mentorship and cultivation of the next generation of dance makers. A few exceptions include BalletX's season-long choreographic fellowship, The Royal Ballet's Young Choreographer Programme and New York City Ballet's New York Choreographic Institute. Now, Dutch National Ballet is joining the ranks of companies committed to developing new talent.
Starting in the new year, Juanjo Arqués and Peter Leung will be appointed as Young Creative Associates of Dutch National Ballet. Their relationship with the company will include both artistic and technical support for their work, over the course of several years.
Both men are former dancers with the company: Arqués has created work internationally and will premiere a ballet as part of Dutch National's Made in Amsterdam program in February 2017. Leung created the company's breakthrough virtual reality ballet and is an artistic director of the interdisciplinary House of Makers (which has had at least one event in Brooklyn!). In 2017, he'll make a new work for the Dutch National Ballet Junior Company.
For those wishing that a few women were included in this opportunity, Dutch National will partner with UK-based Rambert Dance for a program called Young Choreographer and Composer Exchange Project. Rambert's choreography fellow Julie Cunningham, and music fellow Anna Appleby, will join Leung and Arqués as the group meets with choreographers connected to both companies, observing their creative processes, and more.