Summer Intensive Survival
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There's a sweet spot toward the end of August—after summer intensives have wrapped up and before it's time to head back to school or work—where the days are long, lazy and begging to be spent neck-deep in a pile of good books. Whether you're looking for inspiration for the upcoming season or trying to brush up on your dance history, you can never go wrong with an excellent book on ballet. We've gathered eight titles (all available at common booksellers like Amazon and Barnes and Noble) guaranteed to give you a deeper understanding of the art form, to add to your end-of-summer reading list.

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James Yoichi Moore and Noelani Pantastico warm up onstage. Angela Sterling, Courtesy SDC.

On a sunny July weekend, hundreds of Seattle-area dance fans converged on tiny Vashon Island, a bucolic enclave in Puget Sound about 20 miles from the city. They made the ferry trek to attend the debut performance of the fledgling Seattle Dance Collective.

SDC is not a run-of-the-mill contemporary dance company; it's the brainchild of two of Pacific Northwest Ballet's most respected principal dancers: James Yoichi Moore and Noelani Pantastico. The duo wanted to create a nimble organization to feature dancers and choreographers they felt needed more exposure in the Pacific Northwest.

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News
Roman Mejia in Robbins' Dances at a Gathering. Erin Baiano, Courtesy NYCB.

The Princess Grace Foundation has just announced its 2019 class, and we're thrilled that two ballet dancers—New York City Ballet's Roman Mejia and BalletX's Stanley Glover—are included among the list of über-talented actors, filmmakers, playwrights, dancers and choreographers.

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The Royal Ballet's Alexander Campbell and Yasmine Naghdi in Ashton's The Two Pigeons. Tristram Kenton, Courtesy ROH.

While most ballet casts are 100 percent human, it's not unheard of for live animals to appear onstage, providing everything from stage dressing to supporting roles. Michael Messerer's production of Don Quixote features a horse and a donkey; American Ballet Theatre's Giselle calls for two Russian wolfhounds; and Sir Frederick Ashton's La Fille Mal Gardee requires a white Shetland pony. Another Ashton masterpiece, The Two Pigeons, is well known for its animal actors. But though ballet is a highly disciplined, carefully choreographed art form, some performers are naturally more prone to flights of fancy—because they're birds.

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Nisian Hughes, Courtesy Kimberly Giannelli PR

ABT besties Isabella Boylston and James Whiteside have a dream: To get the most dancers ever to go on pointe at the same time.

The pair, who go by the joint nickname "The Cindies," have teamed up with the morning talk show "Live with Kelly and Ryan" to try to dance into the record books on live TV. They're inviting anyone who can dance on pointe to join them outside the "Live" studio in New York City on Tuesday, September 10.

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Royal Ballet principal Sarah Lamb taking onstage class at The Joyce Theater. Kyle Froman.

New York City's dance scene is having its own "British invasion" right now. The 2019 edition of The Joyce Theater's annual Ballet Festival, taking place now through August 18, is curated by a team from The Royal Ballet, and a small group of company members are in town to perform. (The festival also features special guests from National Ballet of Canada, American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet and New York Theater Ballet.) And while Royal Ballet director Kevin O'Hare had a huge hand in developing the event and planning its first program, he tapped two of his principal dancers—Lauren Cuthbertson and Edward Watson—as well as frequent company designer Jean-Marc Puissant, to curate programs of their own. "Anytime I go to dance events I see them there—they're always interested in what's going on and have such deep knowledge of choreographers," says O'Hare. "I thought they would be up for the challenge."

Most exciting for us, of course, is the chance to see some of The Royal's star dancers. In addition to Watson and Cuthbertson (who are dancing heavily in their own programs), principals Sarah Lamb and Marcelino Sambé (newly promoted, and our April/May cover star) are in town, as well as rising dancers Calvin Richardson, Romany Pajdak and Joseph Sissens. We couldn't pass up the opportunity to see them in action, and last week the company graciously allowed us to sit in on morning class for a Pointe photo exclusive. Check them out below!


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Sara Mearns and Honji Wang in No. 1. Photo by Christopher Duggan, Courtesy Jacob's Pillow.

Wonder what's going on in ballet this week? We've rounded up some highlights.

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Royal New Zealand Ballet dancers Kate Kadow, Katherine Minor and Katherine Precourt rehearse Balanchine's Serenade. Photo by Stephen A'Court, Courtesy RNZB.

Though the Royal New Zealand Ballet has seen a lot of upheaval in recent years, it's now attracting dancers from the U.S. again. Six American women are currently working for the Wellington-based company: Two of them, soloist Katherine Minor and dancer Leonora Voigtlander, joined in 2014, shortly before the end of Ethan Stiefel's tenure as artistic director, while the others were drawn to the vision of current director Patricia Barker. In 2018, the former Pacific Northwest Ballet star and director of Grand Rapids Ballet hired principal Katharine Precourt (previously a first soloist with Houston Ballet), soloist Kate Kadow, and dancers Caroline Wiley and Clare Schellenberg. (Two other American dancers—former Miami City Ballet principal Simone Messmer and 17-year-old Nicole Denney, are currently there through September as guest artists.) We sat down with all six of them to find out what it was like moving across the world and adjusting to life in Kiwi land.

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Ballet Stars

English National Ballet star Alina Cojocaru was still a Royal Ballet principal in 2006 when she guest-starred in the Mariinsky Ballet's production of The Sleeping Beauty. And as this clip of her Aurora proves, she is indeed a vision in Act II's dream scene. Dancing alongside Andrian Fadeyev and Daria Pavlenko as Prince Désiré and the Lilac Fairy, the Romanian ballerina has an air of otherworldly majesty.

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Having survived two consecutive decades as a dedicated ballet dad, I've collected some tidbits of wisdom over the years. With apologies to David Letterman, I've loosely organized these pearls of wisdom into roughly 10 simple—and not so simple—rules and guidelines of being a black-belt ballet dad. Some are obvious. Some are challenging. Others can be downright impossible. But that's the price you pay when you sign up for the emotionally charged position of ballet dad.

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Sarasota Ballet principal Danielle Rae Brown modeling one of her RAE Boutique leotards. Courtesy RAE Boutique.

Dancer-made dancewear is tried and true, from Boston Ballet principal Ashley Ellis' RubiaWear to Ballerina Couture by National Ballet of Canada's Tina Pereira. As a designer myself (@littlebirdskirts), I'm always inspired by how my colleagues bring their unique style into the studio, as many of them also create their own pieces to wear in class and rehearsal. Beyond the bigger name brands, you don't have to go far to find one-of-a-kind dancewear—and you can feel good about supporting other artists' work. Check out these five professional dancers who have developed their own creative dancewear lines—you may even find a new back-to-class look!

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News
Get your popcorn ready! (Getty Images)

Pop quiz, dance friends! Select all that apply:

a) You love ballet.
b) You love ballet on TV.
c) You absolutely devoured Tiny Pretty Things, the 2016 YA novel described as "Black Swan meets 'Pretty Little Liars.'"
d) OK you haven't read the book yet but wooowwww does that description sound enticing.

We've got good news for those of you who ticked off literally any of those options: Netflix just ordered a new series based on Tiny Pretty Things, and it's slated to arrive next year. Get your popcorn ready!

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Pacific Northwest Ballet's Elizabeth Murphy and Seth Orza in Alexei Ratmansky's Don Quixote (photo by Angela Sterling, courtesy PNB)

In theory, partnered pirouettes should be easier than regular pirouettes, right? After all, there are not one, but two of you there to make lots of smooth, glorious rotations happen. But in practice, they can be…complicated. (Just ask Kristi Capps, ballet master at Kansas City Ballet, who once broke her ring finger on her partner's chest during a whip turn.)

Thankfully, partnered pirouettes can be exciting—and injury-free—if you and your partner work together to coordinate your timing and spacing. Here are a few simple rules to help you and your partner find common ground.

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Health & Body
Rodrigo Bernasc via Pixabay

I'm a dancer who is currently injured and unable to walk a lot. My physical therapist and my massage therapist are giving me opposite instructions. My PT believes that I should do her exercises, even if they cause some of the "bad pain," and take three different kinds of exercise classes. My massage therapist tells me that I shouldn't do anything that causes "bad pain" and only do one exercise class per week for now. Who should I listen to? —Rachel

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Boston Ballet's Daniel Randall Durrett. Photo by Rene Micheo, Courtesy Dance Jox

When I was 13, I was in a class with boys who were a few years older than me at the School of American Ballet. One day before class, I gave a little sass to a 16-year-old classmate who was swinging his leg as his warm up, showing off his flexibility.

"Kick that leg," I say.

"Wear those briefs," he replies.

My face went beet-red. Was I supposed to be wearing a dance belt? I was sure I was too young, but I asked a friend of mine just in case. He told me, gracefully, that yes, I needed one and that it was a topic of some discussion among my older peers.

Even though I had been at SAB for three years, when to wear a dance belt had never been discussed.

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Ballet Training
Courtesy Jill Barletti

If you've been waiting with bated breath for the ballet emoji that is due to hit iPhones everywhere this September, we might have something even better to add tutus to your texts in the meantime—these cute new ballerina iMessage stickers, now available for download from the App Store.

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"When I would get competitive over every little thing, my teachers would remind me that there is no perfect dancer out there," says ballet student Alina Taratorin. (Photo by Oliver Endahl, courtesy Taratorin)

Ballet dancer Alina Taratorin has struggled to control her competitive nature for years. "When I was younger," the 17-year-old Bayer Ballet Academy student says, "I would get so intimidated by the other dancers at competitions. If someone made a nasty face at me or did intimidating stretches, I would actually shake and fall onstage because of it." Her desire to win was strong, but rather than channeling that desire in a productive way, she'd attack herself. "I tend to overanalyze everything," she says. "I had to learn to control my own mind."

These days, Alina uses an array of mental tricks to perform at her peak without getting psyched out by the competition. Are you struggling with overly competitive tendencies? Try these tips from the experts to bring balance to your dancing life.

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Jin Zhang, Erica Lall and Betsy McBride in Swan Lake. Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy American Ballet Theatre

Erica Lall, a member of American Ballet Theatre's corps de ballet, accomplished an impressive feat this spring: she danced in every single one of ABT's spring Metropolitan Opera House season performances. That's 64 shows—actually, as Lall notes, "it would technically be 69 shows at the Met," since she performed in all of the ABTKids performances as well.

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News
Lauren Cuthbertson. Dan Shitagi, Courtesy Joyce Theater.

Wonder what's going on in ballet this week? We've rounded up some highlights.

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Ballet Training
Barry Kerollis' (instep enhanced) feet in Mark Morris' A Garden. Angela Sterling, Courtesy PNB.

When we watch dancers with drool-worthy arches, we assume they either worked really hard for them or they were born with them. Professionals spend years training the articulation of their foot muscles. But some of us who have made it in the big leagues still need some help when it comes to line and flexibility. Most dancers would never admit what I am about to share, but here goes: There is a contingent of artists who pad the tops of their insteps to project the appearance of naturally curved feet.

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Ballet Careers
Ben Malone in Raymonda while at Richmond Ballet, and in his police uniform. From left: Sarah Ferguson, Courtesy Richmond Ballet; Courtesy Malone.

At age 15, Ben Malone made his Nutcracker debut in the party scene. But unlike many of his peers, dancing had not been his childhood dream. While other tiny tots aspired to tutus or tunics and can remember the days of being chin high to the barre, Malone dreamt not of costumes, but of a uniform. "I've thought about being a cop since I was quite young, maybe three or four," he says. "My mother [a federal prosecutor] worked very closely with law enforcement, so growing up I'd be running around her office and see the FBI agents and state police officers and think how cool they looked, and how I wanted to be like that someday." But before Malone dedicated his life to serve and protect, he found the thrill of the stage.

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News

Dagmar Sternad is a professor of biology, physics, and electrical and computer engineering at Northeastern University. She's also a bit of a dance obsessive. And her innovative work with ballet dancers could have far-ranging implications for the worlds of both medicine and robotics.

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News
Peter Mueller, Courtesy Boston Ballet

Summer means promotions announcements, and dancers transitioning from one company to another. And while we've already shared some updates with you (see San Francisco Ballet here and here, American Ballet Theatre here), more news is being released each day. Below, we've rounded up recent updates from seven companies. Read on to find out whose names you'll be seeing in playbills across the country (and Canada!) in the year to come.

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Ballet Stars
Erin Baiano, Courtesy Vail Dance Festival

If, like us, you're anywhere that isn't the Vail Dance Festival right now, you're obviously bummed to be missing all the amazing performances, premieres and collaborations currently underway. Luckily, many of our favorite bunheads have been keeping us updated on the amazing work being done up in the Colorado Rocky Mountains via Instagram. Here's a roundup of some of our favorite posts so far.

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Ballet Stars
Roman Mejia in Robbins' Dances at a Gathering. Erin Baiano, Courtesy NYCB

Roman Mejia is only 19, and he has the energy to prove it; in the studio and onstage at New York City Ballet, this standout corps member bursts with a kind of uncontainable ebullience. Like his idol, Edward Villella, he specializes in extroverted, allegro roles: Puck in A Midsummer Night's Dream, Candy Cane in The Nutcracker, one of the sailors in Jerome Robbins' Fancy Free.

More recently, he has caught the eye of several big-name choreographers: In the last few months he understudied William Forsythe's Hermann Schmermann, and strutted his stuff to Kanye West in Kyle Abraham's The Runaway. Alexei Ratmansky, who prepared him for his debut in Pictures at an Exhibition in the spring, is also a fan: "He's like a reincarnation of Eddie Villella," the choreographer said recently. "Great energy and attack, and fantastic technique."

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