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Onstage This Week: "Hamilton" Choreographer's Ballet Debut, Ballet West's Choreographic Fest, Australian Ballet in NYC, and More!

Scottish Ballet in Sophie Laplane's Sibilo, which will have its US Premiere at Ballet West's choreographic festival this week. Jane Hobson, Courtesy Ballet West.

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


"Hamilton" Choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler Makes His Ballet Debut in Tulsa

As a three-time Tony Award winner for Best Choreography, Andy Blankenbuehler has certainly made a name for himself on the Broadway stage. This spring, the acclaimed Hamilton choreographer is taking his talents to Tulsa Ballet, where he's creating his first-ever work for a ballet company. The piece tells the story of sailors on a submarine, daydreaming of their loved ones back home. It's set to a patchwork score, including works by Regina Spektor and the Benny Goodman Orchestra, with voices and sound effects overlaid. The world premiere joins Jerome Robbins' Fancy Free and George Balanchine's Who Cares? on a program blending the line between ballet and Broadway, running May 9–12.

Ballet West's Choreographic Festival Presents Scottish Ballet

Ballet West's third annual Choreographic Festival, running May 9–11, is welcoming international guests for the first time. Scottish Ballet will head to Salt Lake City to perform choreographer-in-residence Sophie Laplane's 2016 Sibilo, which explores whistling in connection with human emotion. Also on the program are four works danced by Ballet West: a world premiere by BalletMet artistic director Edwaard Liang, and pieces by BW company dancers Emily Adams, Katlyn Addison and Trevor Naumann.

A Visit From Down Under

The Australian Ballet heads to New York City May 9–12 as part of The Joyce Theater's Australia Festival. For its Joyce debut, the company is featuring 12 dancers in contemporary works by three of its homegrown resident choreographers. The program includes Alice Topp's Aurum, Stephen Baynes' Unspoken Dialogues and a world premiere by Tim Harbour.

Pennsylvania Ballet Closes Its Season With a World Premiere by Jorma Elo

Pennsylvania Ballet's closes out its season with a triple bill running May 9-12. A world premiere by Jorma Elo titled Trigger Touch Fade joins Christopher Wheeldon's DGV: Danse à Grande Vitesse and the company premiere of Jerome Robbins' Glass Pieces. Elo's new work is set to excerpts from four violin concertos: one by Joseph Haydn and three by Johann Sebastian Bach.

Atlanta Ballet Director's Choice Program Includes World Premiere by Liam Scarlett

Atlanta Ballet's Director's Choice program, running May 10-12, showcases three contemporary works: Gemma Bond's Denouement, the company premiere of Kiyon Ross's Sum Stravinsky and a world premiere by Liam Scarlett titled Catch, set to Philip Glass' Violin Concerto No. 1. This commission follows the success of his Vespertine, which Atlanta Ballet presented in 2017. Catch a short glimpse above.

Kansas City Ballet Pairs Tharp and Forsythe with a David Parsons World Premiere

Kansas City Ballet's May 10-19 Tharp/Parsons/Forsythe is a celebration of three American contemporary choreographers. This high-energy program includes Twyla Tharp's In the Upper Room, William Forsythe's In the middle, somewhat elevated and the world premiere of David Parsons' A Play for Love. Parsons, a Kansas City native, has based his new work on some of Shakespeare's best-loved comedic characters.

Ballet Fantastique's Debuts Its New "Cleopatra"

May 9-12 marks the debut of Ballet Fantastique's Cleopatra. This new, full-length ballet is choreographed and produced by mother/daughter team Donna and Hannah Bontrager. This historic tale of romance and politics will be paired with original electronic music by Sidecar Tommy and Eonor Wildeboar from Beats Antique, played live.

MorDance Reimagines "Romeo and Juliet"

New York-based company MorDance presents its first full-length story ballet, R+J Reimagined May 9-11. Choreographed by artistic director Morgan McEwen, this work for 11 dancers and six musicians features a score by Ben Gallina, who mixes Sergei Prokofiev's original with his own compositions. To create her version, McEwen dug into the history behind Shakespeare's original play.

Kirk Peterson Choreographs a New "Beauty and the Beast" for American Repertory Ballet

May 10 marks the world premiere of choreographer Kirk Peterson's Beauty and the Beast for New Jersey-based company American Repertory Ballet. Set to music by Pytor Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Peterson's take on this magical tale is a good fit for audiences of all ages. Above, see the making of the ballet's original costumes.

San Francisco Ballet Presents Ratmansky's "Shostakovich Trilogy"

For San Francisco Ballet's eighth program of its season, the company celebrates choreographer Alexei Ratmansky. SFB presents his Shostakovich Trilogy May 7-12. This piece, a co-commission with American Ballet Theatre, is made up of three separate ballets: Symphony #9, Chamber Symphony and Piano Concerto #1, all set to Dmitri Shostakovich's orchestral works.

Ballet Memphis Brings Back Three Audience Favorites

This weekend, Ballet Memphis turns the viewing experience on its head with an audience-curated program. Rewind, running May 10-11, features three favorites from the past year, based on a vote by audience members. Trey McIntyre's Memphis Suite, Julia Adam's Devil's Fruit and Steven McMahon's Flyway will all be reprised.

4 Story Ballets Take the Stage

  • May 10-June 8, Boston Ballet brings back Sir Frederick Ashton's Cinderella
  • Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre presents Marius Petipa's The Sleeping Beauty, staged by Terrence Orr, May 10-12
  • The romantic classic Giselle returns to Ballet Austin May 10-12
  • Swan Lake, billed as an "iconic story of love and deception," hits Festival Ballet Providence's stages May 10-12

Larke Johnson in rehearsal. Courtesy The Joffrey Ballet

Marie and Franz have a new guest at their Christmas Eve party this year. Emma Lookatch and Larke Johnson, both dancers in the Adaptive Dance Program at Joffrey Academy of Dance: Official School of The Joffrey Ballet, are alternating in the new role of Worker Girl. It is a permanent part created specifically for students with disabilities in Christopher Wheeldon's version of The Nutcracker at The Joffrey Ballet.

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Francisco Estevez, Courtesy Colorado Ballet Academy

When you're looking for a ballet program to take you to the next level, there are a lot of factors to consider. While it's tempting to look for the biggest name that will accept you, the savvy dancer knows that successful training has more to do with the attention and opportunities you'll get.

We put together a few of the most important things for dancers to look for in a summer or year-round training program, with the help of the experts at Colorado Ballet Academy:

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Ballet Training
Ballet Austin Academy students practice priouette en dehors. Annie Marie Bloodgood, Courtesy Ballet Austin.

Michelle Martin, associate artistic director of Ballet Austin, says that pirouettes en dehors from fourth position allongé are full of "traps" for dancers. Whether you trained with a straight back leg or have never tried it before, Martin's analytical breakdown will help you master this basic but dazzling turn.

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Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy US Prix de Ballet

The US Prix de Ballet is taking an unconventional approach to the ballet competition—by putting the competitors' health first. After a successful first year in 2018, the Prix is returning to San Diego, CA this February with an even more comprehensive lineup of wellness workshops and master classes, in addition, of course, to the high-level competition.

Though the talent is top-notch, the environment is friendly, says HARID Conservatory faculty member Victoria Schneider, who serves on US Prix de Ballet's elite panel of judges. "The wellbeing of the dancer is the main focus," says Schneider, who awarded three scholarships to HARID at last year's competition.

US Prix de Ballet was born after its founders traveled to the Japan Grand Prix International Ballet Competition in 2016. "The company ran every aspect of the competition with professionalism, dignity, honor and precision," says founder Neisha Hernandez. "We knew we wanted this level of experience for America."

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