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Congrats to 2019 Erik Bruhn Prize Winners Siphesihle November and Catherine Hurlin

From left: Catherine Hurlin, Siphesihle November and Kristian Lever. Karolina Kuras, Courtesy NBoC.

Over the weekend, eight of the world's most promising young dancers competed in Toronto for The Erik Bruhn Prize. Since 1988 the prize, named for celebrated danseur noble Erik Bruhn, has brought together one male and one female dancer from each of the companies that he was affiliated with. Dancers must be between the ages of 18 and 23, and are invited by their artistic directors to compete. Each couple performs a classical and contemporary pas de deux, though they're judged individually.


The full group of competitors, choreographers and artistic staff involved with the competition.

Karolina Kuras, Courtesy NBoC

This year's contestants included American Ballet Theatre's Aran Bell and Catherine Hurlin, The Hamburg Ballet's Sara Ezzell and Matias Oberlin, The National Ballet of Canada's Jeannine Haller and Siphesihle November, and the Royal Danish Ballet's Emma Riis-Kofoed and Mattia Santini. Out of the uber-talented group, Hurlin and November were awarded the two prizes, winning $7,500 and a sculpture by Jack Culiner. In 2009, a choreographic prize honoring the best new work was added to the competition. This year, The Hamburg Ballet's Kristian Lever won for his work An intimate distance, danced by Ezzell and Oberlin.

Hurlin, a recently promoted soloist at ABT, is no stranger to prizes. Following a long list of competition wins and scholarships, she won the Princess Grace Award last year. The New York City-native danced two pas de deux, both with Bell, an ABT corps member. Their classical choice was from Act III of Don Quixote, and they showed off their contemporary chops in a new work by Jessica Lang titled Let Me Sing Forevermore.

The South Africa-born November was one of our 2018 Stars of the Corps. He trained at Canada's National Ballet School before joining the company in 2017. November danced with fellow NBoC corps dancer Jeannine Haller in a pas de deux from Act II of La Sylphide and in The Other Side, a new work by Alysa Pires.

We've long had our eye on both Hurlin and November, and we're thrilled to see them join the impressive ranks of past Erik Bruhn prizewinners including Julie Kent, Vanessa Zahorian, Cory Stearns and Ida Praetorius. A huge congratulations to all who participated!

Ballet Careers
Gray Davis with wife, ABT soloist Cassandra Trenary, after his graduation from the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy. Courtesy Trenary.

When Gray Davis retired from American Ballet Theatre in July of 2018, he moved home to South Carolina, unsure of what would come next. Last month, just over a year later, Davis graduated from the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy. Today, he's working as a deputy for the Abbeville County Sheriff's Office.

Though Davis danced in ABT's corps for 11 years and is married to soloist Cassandra Trenary, to many he's best known for saving the life of a man who was pushed onto the subway tracks in New York City in 2017. The heroic effort earned him the New York State Liberty Medal, the highest civilian honor bestowed by a member of the New York State Senate. We caught up with Davis to hear about how the split second decision he made in the subway affected the course of his life, what it's been like starting a second career and what he sees as the similarities between ballet and law enforcement.

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Sponsored by BLOCH
Courtesy BLOCH

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The team at BLOCH developed their line of Stretch Pointe shoes to address dancer's most common complaints about the fit and performance of their pointe shoes. "It's a scientific take on the pointe shoe," says Roe. Dancers are taking notice and Stretch Pointe shoes are now worn by stars like American Ballet Theatre principal Isabella Boylston, who stars in BLOCH's latest campaign for the shoes.

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Megan Amanda Ehrlich, Courtesy LEAP Program

Claire Sheridan wanted to change the status quo. Leading up to the 1990s, she recalls, "there was a 'shut up and dance' mind-set," and as the founder of the dance program at St. Mary's College of California and a longtime teacher in professional companies, she had seen too many dancers retire with no plan for a successful career transition. "At that time, if you thought about education and the future," she says, "you were not a committed dancer. I wanted to fight that."

With the support of St. Mary's, Sheridan developed the Liberal Education for Arts Professionals program, or LEAP, an innovative liberal-arts bachelor's degree program designed especially for professional dancers. She first presented her idea to executives at San Francisco Ballet. "Kudos to that company, because they said, 'This is great,'" she says. "Eleven of the first 18 dancers who started in August 1999 were from SFB."

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I'm a college freshman, and my dance program isn't challenging enough. We only have ballet three times a week and a few hours of modern, and my classmates aren't as dedicated as I am. There's a small dance company nearby, where I was hoping to take extra classes, but I don't have a car. I want to transfer, but I feel like I won't be in good enough shape for auditions. —Tara

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