After a flawless performance of Giselle this past week, we've become a little obsessed with Sarah Lane. The American Ballet Theatre soloist seamlessly performed the crisp jumps and airy dancing that matched Giselle's youthful approach to love. Then transitioned into more fluid arm movements and lengthened lines that went along with her heartbreak (after an impressive mad scene at the end of Act I) as a Wili.
The lead female Paquita variation has a little bit of everything: It showcases the ballerina’s delicate footwork, graceful port de bras and her jumping and turning abilities. In this clip filmed in 1991, Mariinsky Ballet principal Yulia Makhalina has it all. She exhibits crisp entrechats six, clean (and many!) turns and polished hops on pointe. It’s the little details, however, that I find most admirable. I love the way Makhalina sustains her attitude turns so that she’s still sailing at the high note’s little ding. When the harp substantially slows down, she fills out the entirety of the music with her fluid épaulement, arms and wrists, as if she herself were playing the instrument.
When you think of Soviet Era ballerinas, Makhalina’s name may not immediately spring to mind. However, she joined the Mariinsky, then Kirov Ballet, in 1985—six years before the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. A generation after she began her career, Makhalina remains one of the company’s reigning stars. Happy #ThrowbackThursday!
Prepping a variation for your upcoming auditions? If the Paquita music you downloaded from iTunes isn’t a ballet-friendly speed, try the Tempo SlowMo app, which lets you import songs from your music library and adjust their tempo—between 20 and 250 percent of the original speed—without changing pitch. The app’s helpful markers make rehearsal more efficient. To nail that tricky petit allégro section or build stamina, use the loop markers to replay sections of the song on a continuous loop. Pinpoint the “5, 6, 7, 8” before your fouettés with a place marker, or cut applause and lengthy intros on a live recording with the start and end markers. When you’re ready to film your variation, save the speed-adjusted track and export it via Dropbox or email.
The various import/export options, markers and tempo-adjusting tool come with the free download. Additional features are available for in-app purchase, including a playlist option that allows you to consolidate your customized classical and contemporary tracks in one place. Tempo SlowMo, by Martian Storms Ltd., is compatible with iPad, iPhone and iTouch and is available for free download from the App Store.
If you're in the Houston area next week, make sure you put this event on your calendar: May 9–11 at 8 pm, Houston Ballet will give three free performances at the Miller Outdoor Theatre. Two Stanton Welch works are on the program, Play and Sons de L'ame (Sounds of the Soul), as well as the variation-filled third act of Paquita.
The box office will distribute tickets on the day of the performance, 10:30–1:00. Each person in line can reserve up to four tickets, but you must be 16 or older to pick them up. If you can't get there early to nab a seat, the hill behind the reserved area will be open. For more information, see houstonballet.org.