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Onstage This Week: 3 World Premieres at The Washington Ballet, Ballet West Presents "Onegin," and More!

Ballet West principals Beckanne Sisk and Chase O'Connell in John Cranko's Onegin. Beau Pearson, Courtesy Ballet West.

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


The Washington Ballet Presents Three World Premieres

April 3-7, The Washington Ballet presents three never before seen works. The first is Ethan Stiefel's Wood Work. This abstract take on life in a small Nordic community will be performed to music played live by the Danish String Quartet. Former San Francisco Ballet soloist Dana Genshaft's Shadow Lands is set to the electronic music of Mason Bates. Last up is Trey McIntyre's Teeming Waltzes, which pairs Strauss waltzes with a set combining ball pits and bubbles. Catch glimpses of Stiefel and Genshaft's works in the above video from TWB's Works & Process show at the Guggenheim last month.

All Stravinsky at Pennsylvania Ballet, Including a World Premiere by Matthew Neenan

From April 4-7 Pennsylvania Ballet celebrates composer Igor Stravinsky's vast oeuvre. The program includes three Stravinsky classics—Balanchine's Apollo and Stravinsky Violin Concerto and the company premiere of Jerome Robbins' The Cage—as well as a world premiere by Matthew Neenan titled Deco to Stravinsky's Piano Sonata and Tango.

Ballet West Brings John Cranko's "Onegin" to Utah Stages

Ballet West presents the company premiere of John Cranko's Onegin April 5-13. Based on Alexander Pushkin's dramatic novel in verse, Onegin tells the story of an arrogant aristocrat who rejects the love of a naive country girl, only to realize his great mistake years later. Cranko originally created this three-act ballet for Stuttgart Ballet in 1964. Above, Ballet West principals Arolyn Williams and Rex Tilton discuss the challenges of learning a new full-length ballet.

NYCB is Back at The Kennedy Center

New York City Ballet returns to The Kennedy Center April 2-7 for its annual run. This year, the company brings two mixed repertoire programs. First up is Balanchine, Robbins & Reisen, a blend of new and old featuring Gianna Reisen's Composer's Holiday, George Balanchine's Kammermusik No. 2 and Symphony in C, and Jerome Robbins' Opus 19/The Dreamer. The second program, New Works & New Productions, includes Justin Peck's Easy, Robbins' In the Night, Kyle Abraham's The Runaway and the Jerome Robbins tribute extravaganza, SOMETHING TO DANCE ABOUT.

Exciting Premieres at Festival Ballet Providence

Festival Ballet Providence in Wheeldon's Five Movements, Three Repeats

Zaire Kacz Photography, Courtesy FBP

Festival Ballet Providence's Up Close on Hope program, part of its Black Box Theatre series, runs two consecutive weekends this month: April 5-7 and 12-14. This varied program includes the company premiere of Christopher Wheeldon's Five Movements, Three Repeats, originally created on Wendy Whelan and Martha Graham Dance Company star Fang-Yi Sheu at the Vail Dance Festival in 2012. Also on display are Gianni Di Marco's new adaptation of Bolero and the world premiere of Yury Yanowsky's The Sun Sleeps.

Milwaukee Ballet Presents Val Caniparoli's "Lambarena"

Val Caniparoli's Lambarena has its company premiere at Milwaukee Ballet April 4-7. First presented in 1995 at San Francisco Ballet and since performed by over 20 companies worldwide, this work blends Bach, ballet and traditional African dance and music in a celebration of the universal language of dance. Catch a glimpse in the above video. Pieces by former Genesis choreographic competition winners Enrico Morelli and George Williamson will round out the triple bill.

Colorado Ballet Brings Two Classics to the Stage

Colorado Ballet's Ballet MasterWorks program, onstage at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House April 5-14, brings two classics to Denver audiences. The program opens with George Balanchine's Serenade and closes with Fernand Nault's Carmina Burana, marking its revival after nearly 20 years. Above, hear artistic director Gil Boggs discuss Serenade.

Tom Gold Dance's Spring Season Includes a World Premiere to Music by Leonard Bernstein

Tom Gold Dance presents its spring season April 3-4 at the Kaye Playhouse in New York. The program includes three works by company founder Tom Gold: the world premiere of Significant Strangers to piano compositions by Leonard Bernstein, the New York premiere of Blind Revelry set to Stephen Sondheim's Concertino, and the revival of his Counterpoint to music by Steve Reich.

Ballet Training
Kali Kleiman performing at YAGP's New York Finals. VAM Productions, Courtesy YAGP.

As someone who has judged many ballet competitions, I've had the opportunity to see some breathtaking contemporary solos that combine fantastic technique with well-conceived choreography. Yet it's often hard for us judges to see the artistic intention behind these solos the way we can when watching a classical variation. For one thing, we're simply more familiar with classical ballet's repertoire and characters. But also, when a contemporary solo is just a string of one trick after another, or only delivers one emotion (such as overwrought angst), we don't get to see any artistic depth.

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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 Stars
Elle Macy in Benjamin Millepied's Appassionata. Angela Sterling, Courtesy PNB.

Cross-training misconceptions: Before Elle Macy became an apprentice with Pacific Northwest Ballet, she was apprehensive about cross-training. "I was warned that it might bulk you, or not to do certain activities because they could potentially injure you." But a stress fracture in her foot changed her perspective. Unable to bear much weight, Macy reluctantly tried stationary biking at her physical therapist's suggestion. "What I learned is that you're not going to get injured from being on an elliptical for 20 minutes or by taking a Pilates class," says Macy. Today, it's not uncommon to find the soloist training on the elliptical, doing ankle stability exercises, using the Pilates reformer or taking a hot yoga class.

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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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