Pacific Northwest Ballet soloist Angelia Generosa uses cross-training to tackle the company's varied repertoire.
Cross-training philosophy: Pacific Northwest Ballet soloist Angelica Generosa kicked up her workout regimen a few seasons ago when she was first dancing "Rubies," along with a lot of contemporary rep. "I realized that I couldn't afford to get hurt," she says. "I had to take time to take care of my muscles, so they could recuperate and feel good for whatever PNB asked me to do." Now in her seventh season, Generosa acknowledges that just stretching before class isn't enough. "Maintenance is really important. Know what you need before and after class."
At the gym: She starts any workout (or busy day at the studio) with a 10-minute elliptical or bike warm-up. Generosa developed tendonitis in her left knee a few years ago, so this prepares the joint for more strenuous activity. Then, she'll do 20 to 45 minutes of cardio on the treadmill or elliptical; upper-body work, like arm circles while holding 10-pound free weights; ab exercises; and stretching, especially her quads after running.
When Erin Arbuckle takes ballet class wearing her New York City Marathon shirt, teachers often ask her, "You didn't actually run that, did you?" She did, twice, and she's running again this year on November 5.
Arbuckle, 28, a graduate of School of American Ballet and a freelance dancer who has performed with Ballet Next and Emery LeCrone Dance among others, is a rare ballerina who not only runs but has taken on the challenge of a marathon.
"If I can run 26 miles, I can handle a two-minute variation," she says.
Ballet dancers are taught to save their bodies for dance and avoid injury from other activities. While low-impact cross-training like swimming is encouraged, running is generally considered too high impact.
"I was told it would give me huge calves and thighs and damage my knees," Arbuckle says.
Her two foot surgeries were from dance injuries though, not running, and her body is holding up well despite what she was told to expect.
Marika Molnar, director of physical therapy at New York City Ballet, generally advises dancers to run only as a warm up. "Running for 5 to 10 minutes before ballet class to move the large muscles of the body is useful," she said. "Beyond that, you start to have risks."
This year marks the 50th anniversary of George Balanchine's Jewels, and companies around the world are paying homage. While last summer's Lincoln Center Festival collaboration with New York City Ballet, Paris Opéra Ballet and Bolshoi Ballet was all glamour and excitement, Pacific Northwest Ballet is taking a reverential look back in advance of its opening performances next week.
In 2014, PNB artistic director Peter Boal invited four stars of Balanchine's original 1967 cast—Violette Verdy, Mimi Paul, Edward Villella and Jacques d'Amboise—to coach the company in their signature roles. And, thank heavens, they captured it all on film. This 20-minute promotional documentary offers priceless footage of them in rehearsals, interviews and lecture demonstrations, offering fascinating insights into Balanchine's creative process and original intentions.
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.
Hamburg Ballet hits the U.S. The company will perform Old Friends, created by ballet director and chief choreographer John Neumeier, and set to Simon & Garfunkel songs. The work makes its New York premiere, and Hamburg Ballet makes its Joyce debut! Catch the ballet today through March 25.
🌃 We're here!!! First placing rehearsal starts in 20 minutes😜 @thejoycetheater Dancers: @mayaaraya @florenciachinellato @linxue1109 Photo: @kiranwest • • •• ••• #hamburgballetontour #tourlife #dancersofinstagram #johnneumeier #newyork #newyorkcity #dancerslife #dancersofinstagram #ballerinas #balletcompany #hamburgballet #heute_in_hamburg #hamburg #dancer #balletpost #balletlife #city #thebigapple #theatre #theatrelife
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BalletMet gets wet. The company's Art in Motion program, which runs through March 25, features confetti, gold petals and water, in work by Gustavo Ramírez Sansano, Christopher Wheeldon and artistic director Edwaard Liang, respectively. This rehearsal video certainly whets our appetite for more dancing! (Sorry).
Company dancer Gabriel Gaffney Smith (aka @gafsmit) captured this footage of @edwaardliang's newest ballet, Airavata, in rehearsal. (Yes, that's rain in our studio. See previous post for details.) Gabe also happens to be the composer of that beautiful music you're hearing. You can see this work when it premieres during Art in Motion, March 17-25 at the Davidson Theatre. #balletmet #artmakescbus
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The next generation. Catching American Ballet Theatre's Studio Company, comprised of dancers ages 16–20 years old, is always a great opportunity to scout the next generation of talent. The troupe performs at Hunter College in New York on March 24–26. Expect excerpts from Raymonda, a piece choreographed by ABT principal Marcelo Gomes and more. Here's a behind-the-scenes video from last year's crop of dancers:
Desert colors. Jessica Lang's Her Door to the Sky was made for Pacific Northwest Ballet and is inspired by the life and work of American painter Georgia O'Keeffe. The ballet made its world premiere at Jacob's Pillow last summer and came home to Seattle on March 17. Catch it through March 26 along with William Forsythe's New Suite and David Dawson's Empire Noir.
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Prix de Lausanne prizes: The Prix winners have chosen their respective schools and companies. First place winner Michele Esposito will join the Dutch National Ballet junior company. Second place winner Marina Fernandes da Costa Duarte received a corps contract from the Bavarian State Ballet. Third place winner Taisuke Nakao will attend The Royal Ballet School. Find the full list here!
Choreographer Alexei Ratmansky will have world premieres on two coasts this winter. On February 10, Miami City Ballet will debut his new one-act version of The Fairy's Kiss to Stravinsky's celebrated score, a homage to Tchaikovsky. The following month, on March 15, at California's Segerstrom Center for the Arts, American Ballet Theatre will premiere his Whipped Cream, a new full-length story ballet to a Richard Strauss libretto and score.
Ratmansky has often looked to ballet history for inspiration. Fairy's Kiss, known as Le Baiser de la Fée when it was originally choreographed by Bronislava Nijinska in 1928, has been staged by Sir Frederick Ashton and Sir Kenneth MacMillan, and several times by Balanchine. Its story comes from The Ice-Maiden, a Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, and Ratmansky has kept the narrative. A young man, about to be married, is bewitched by a fairy's kiss and stolen away from the mortal world. “I asked Alexei for a narrative work, possibly one with a Russian flavor to it," says MCB artistic director Lourdes Lopez. “Our dancers have a very strong dramatic quality and short narrative works are not a large part of our repertoire." Ratmansky had created an earlier version during his tenure at the Bolshoi Ballet; this is a new production with new choreography.
Generosa has received many recent opportunities to shine onstage, including during the company's tour to New York City earlier this year and as an artist at the Vail International Dance Festival, where videos of her rehearsals with New York City Ballet's Joseph Gordon show what an assured performer she is.
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Matthew Renko is not only a rising dancer who has received special recognition in The New York Times, but a choreographer as well. He's created work twice for Next Step, PNB's choreographic program which allows company members to work with Professional Division students.
Benjamin Griffiths has danced with the company since 2005. Here's a #throwback video of Griffiths and former Pointe cover star Leta Biasucci dancing part of the "Bluebird" variation from The Sleeping Beauty. His crisp footwork and magnetic stage presence certainly seem fit for a principal!
Congratulations to all!