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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

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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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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