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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 Careers
Lenai Alexis Wilkerson. Christopher Duggan, Courtesy Michelle Tabnick Public Relations.

This is one of a series of stories on recent graduates' on-campus experiences—and the connections they made that jump-started their dance careers. Lenai Alexis Wilkerson graduated from University of Southern California with a BFA in dance (dance performance concentration) and a political science minor in 2019.

As Lenai Alexis Wilkerson looked at colleges, she wanted a school that would prepare her for two totally different professions: dancing and law. "I knew, pretty much when I was 16, that I wanted to go to law school," she says. "So I wanted the opportunity to have a dual college experience, where I could have a conservatory training style within a university and I could focus equally on my academics." When she auditioned for the inaugural class of University of Southern California's Glorya Kaufman School of Dance, she knew it was the right fit.

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Sponsored by Ballet Arizona
Tzu Chia Huang, Courtesy Ballet Arizona

These days, ballet dancers are asked to do more than they ever have—whether that's tackling versatile rep, taking on intense cross-training regimens or managing everything from their Instagram pages to their summer layoff gigs.

Without proper training, these demands can take a toll on both the mind and the body. But students can start preparing for them early—with the right summer intensive program.

The School of Ballet Arizona's summer intensive takes a well-rounded approach to training—not just focusing on technique and facility but nurturing overall dancer growth. "You cannot make a dancer just by screaming at them like they used to," says master ballet teacher Roberto Muñoz, who guests at the program every summer. "You have to take care of the person as well."

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News
Nicolas Pelletier in Carmina Burana. Francisco Estevez, Courtesy Colorado Ballet.

Last week, Colorado Ballet interrupted Nutcracker rehearsals for an exciting announcement: Four dancers were being promoted. Though all made the jump from the company's corps de ballet, Nicolas Pelletier ascended directly to the rank of soloist, while Sean Omandam, Emily Speed and Melissa Zoebisch were promoted to demi-soloist. This news comes hot on the heels of last August's promotion of Francisco Estevez to principal.

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Courtesy School of Pennsylvania Ballet

While many of us are deep in Nutcracker duties, The School of Pennsylvania Ballet director James Payne has been looking further ahead, finalizing preparations for the school's summer intensive programs. In January, he and his staff will embark on a 24-city audition tour to scour the country for the best young dancers, deciding whether or not to offer them a spot—maybe even a scholarship—in the school's rigorous 5-week intensive focused on high-caliber ballet instruction. Though he'll be evaluating aspirants, he urges that as a student, you should be equally selective in choosing programs that could galvanize your training—and possibly even your career.

We got Payne's advice on strategizing your summer intensive plan before the audition cycle kicks in:

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