Over the last 36 years, scores of dancers passed through Wilhelm Burmann's studio doors at Steps on Broadway in New York City. Burmann, who went by "Willy," welcomed everyone—from huge dance stars to young students with huge dreams. He also welcomed adult students seeking to improve their technique and even students just taking ballet class for exercise.
On Tuesday, March 31, he died of renal failure after his treatment was complicated by the coronavirus, and the dance world lost a beloved teacher and coach.
When April Ball jetéd onto the very first cover of Pointe, in 2000, she was known as a prodigious young principal with Boston Ballet. Three years later, however, ripples from a regime change in Boston led her first briefly to The Suzanne Farrell Ballet and freelancing, and then across the Atlantic to Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo in Monaco, where she has been ever since. We spoke with Ball about how her career has evolved over 20 years, and what she's learned about herself in the process.
These are challenging times. The social distancing measures brought about by COVID-19 has likely meant that your regular ballet training has been interrupted, while your performances, competitions—even auditions—have been cancelled. You may be feeling anxious about what the future holds, not only for you but for the dance industry. And that's perfectly understandable.
As you adjust to taking virtual ballet class from your living rooms, we here at Pointe are adjusting to working remotely from our living rooms. We've had to get a little creative, especially as we put our Summer Issue together, but like you we're taking full advantage of modern technology. Sure, it's a little inconvenient sometimes, but we're finding our groove.
In a brightly lit studio high above the busy Manhattan streets, Roman Mejia rehearses George Balanchine's Allegro Brillante. Though just 20, the New York City Ballet corps dancer exudes an easy confidence. Practicing a tricky sequence of triple pirouettes into double tours his breathing becomes labored, but his focus doesn't waver. He works until he finds the music's inherent rhythm, timing his turns evenly and finally landing them with a satisfied smile.
Since joining NYCB in 2017, Mejia has had the chance to take on ballets ranging from Romeo + Juliet to Fancy Free to Kyle Abraham's hip-hop–infused The Runaway. Though he often finds himself the youngest person in the room, Mejia is rarely intimidated. He's been immersed in ballet since birth. His father, Paul Mejia, danced with NYCB in the 1960s, and his mother, Maria Terezia Balogh, danced for Chicago City Ballet and Fort Worth-Dallas Ballet. Both of Mejia's parents and his grandmother attended the School of American Ballet. Now, Mejia is quickly building on his family's legacy, creating buzz with his shot-from-a-cannon energy, rapid-fire footwork and charismatic charm.
But is kitchen-counter barre really the best way to prepare your body to jump back into intensives and performances once we stop social distancing?