Julie Kent makes her mark on The Washington Ballet's Giselle, and more.

  • The Washington Ballet performs Giselle, March 1–5. Though it's not a premiere, former American Ballet Theatre star Julie Kent now helms the company, and Giselle was one of her signature roles with ABT. It's her first season as artistic director, and she'll be staging the ballet with her husband Victor Barbee. Check out some behind the scenes footage of Kent coaching TWB dancers, like the princely Brooklyn Mack:

  • Reset—a French documentary film that follows former Paris Opéra Ballet dancer Benjamin Millepied during the creation of his ballet Clear, Loud, Bright, Forward—will be available for streaming on Sundance Now, starting March 2. You'll see the mind-boggling efforts required from an artistic director/choreographer, and the equally stunning beauty of the POB dancers.

  • Sergei Polunin, whose foray into film seems to be evolving into a serious second career, joins the cast of Ralph Fiennes' Nureyev biopic, titled White Crow. Though Russian dancer Oleg Ivenko will play the lead, opposite Blue is the Warmest Color's Adele Exarchopoulos, Polunin is officially listed as a member of the cast. Recently, he's been working on Red Sparrow, a major Hollywood film billed as a spy thriller. We don't have many details, but we're looking forward to the first teasers from both of these films!

  • New York Theatre Ballet performs Vaslav Nijinsky's L'Après-midi d'un faune (The Afternoon of a Faun), March 1–4. The rarely performed ballet was created for Ballets Russes and was hugely controversial when it premiered in 1912, and over 100 years later it's as intriguing as ever. New York Theatre Ballet has been working with stager Ann Hutchinson Guest, whose dance notation research made possible the reconstruction of the ballet. The program also includes Frederick Ashton's La Chatte metamorphosée en femme, Antonia Franceschi's She Holds Out Her Hand, and world premieres by Pam Tanowitz and NYTB company member Steven Melendez.

Nureyev as the Faun

  • The University of Utah announced that, starting with the 2017–2018 school year, it will be offering an MFA in ballet, the only school in the U.S. to do so. The program will provide coursework in pedagogy, choreography and dance theory both in the classroom and onstage. Students will also undertake a self-designed thesis project as a culmination of their work. For more information, click here.

 

 

 

 

 
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Rigorous program, check. Well-rounded technical training, check. Purposeful liberal arts curriculum, check. Study your craft abroad, check! If you are looking for all the above, the Joan Phelps Palladino School of Dance at Dean College truly has it all.

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Early in Carrie Imler's 22-year career with Pacific Northwest Ballet, she was excited to be cast in Balanchine's The Four Temperaments. But immediately following dress rehearsal, she was removed from her role in "Melancholic." "My artistic director at the time pulled me aside and said, 'We can't put you out there,' " she remembers. "My weight fluctuated my entire career. Just when I felt like I had figured it out, I would gain it back and have to start all over again." Despite becoming one of PNB's most celebrated principal dancers, Imler never shook the fear of what might happen when a leotard ballet was in the repertoire.

Ballet prides itself on high standards, and the classical ballet physique is not the least of those expectations. Fear of the "fat talk" still lurks in studios, but, as Imler points out, weight is a challenge that many dancers face, while others may struggle with the arches of their feet or turnout. If you are confronted about your weight, know that many talented dancers have been there. Having "the talk" doesn't mean you can't become a professional, but if you take a mindful approach to the conversation, it will show your maturity and ultimately your ability to navigate a career.

Has Something Changed?

If your teacher or director has approached you about your weight, you're likely left feeling emotional, vulnerable and overwhelmed. Once you have a chance to think clearly, ask yourself what factors, like puberty, may be contributing to changes in your body. Nadine Kaslow, resident psychologist at Atlanta Ballet, says, "There is this huge focus on weight and body at a time when even non-dancers are struggling with body issues and everything else that is happening as an adolescent."

External factors often play a role as well. PNB's consulting nutritionist, Peggy Swistak, says that she often sees dancers struggle with weight early in the season as they adjust to living on their own and sharing a kitchen with a roommate. "One may have really bad eating habits and doesn't have to watch her weight at all, and the other is gaining weight. There is a conflict in managing their food together," she says. Ballet Memphis ballet master Brian McSween adds that financial stress can create barriers for eating nutritiously. "The one-dollar piece of pizza costs a lot less than eating organic," he says. "You have to make the best choices possible with what you have." Other changes, like a new schedule, layoffs or even emotional setbacks, will present the need to reevaluate your food habits and exercise routines throughout your career.

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Angela Sterling, Courtesy of Pacific Northwest Ballet

Clear your schedule now for Monday, January 29th, 2:45PM (EST)/ 11:45AM (PST). Pacific Northwest Ballet will be live-streaming rehearsal from Kent Stowell's Swan Lake, straight from their Seattle, WA-based studios. To psych us up for their on stage performances February 2nd - 11th, PNB is letting us in on their Act II rehearsal.

From the corps of swans to Odette and Prince Siegfried's pas de deux, and the infamous four swans, this rehearsal is not to be missed. You can sign up now for a live-stream reminder on their site. In the meantime, we'll be brushing up on our Cygnets with this PNB sneak peek.

Summer Study Advice
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Videos are a great alternative when auditioning in person isn't possible. Here are some general guidelines for making a good impression.

1. Follow directions. Before filming, research what each school you're interested in requires. "It demonstrates your ability to follow instructions, and schools pay attention to that," says Kate Lydon, artistic director of American Ballet Theatre's summer intensives and the ABT Studio Company. "If the guidelines haven't been followed, your video might not be watched the whole way through." You may need to make multiple versions to accommodate different schools.

2. Videos should be no longer than 10 minutes. "Keep it short, simple and direct," advises Philip Neal, dance department chair at The Patel Conservatory and artistic director of Next Generation Ballet. "You have to be sensitive to how much time the director has to sit down and look at it." Barre can be abbreviated, showing only one side per exercise, alternating. Directors will be looking at fundamentals—placement, turnout, leg lines, stability—but don't ignore musicality or movement quality. Make sure music choices match combinations and are correctly synced in the footage.

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I want to be a professional dancer, but my parents won't listen. They either don't think I can do it (contrary to what my teachers have said) or they won't let me take the necessary steps to become a professional. Please help. —Audrey

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Videos

They say that pigeons mate for life—perhaps that's why these birds naturally symbolize the young lovers in Sir Frederick Ashton's The Two Pigeons. In these two clips from a 1987 performance in Pisa, Alessandra Ferri and Robert LaFosse—then stars with American Ballet Theatre and New York City Ballet, respectively—dance a rapturous pas de deux at the end of Act II. With tiny pricks of her feet and bird-like flaps of her elbows in Part 1, Ferri marks her anguish, thinking she's been abandoned for another woman. Later, both she and LaFosse grow more and more entangled as they reconcile, Ferri dancing with the passionate abandon she's famous for. I love how in Part 2 (0:20), they can't seem to get enough of each other as their necks arch and intertwine. At the end of the ballet, two pigeons fly in to perch symbolically on the chair—er, there's supposed to be two. It looks like one missed its cue at this performance! No matter—Ferri and LaFosse's dancing make it clear that these young lovers are meant to be together for life. Happy #TBT!

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