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Onstage This Week: Ballet Across America, Joffrey World Premiere, Tharp Trio at ABT, and More!

Cylla von Tiedemann, Courtesy NBoC

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


Dance Theatre of Harlem and Miami City Ballet Join Forces at the Kennedy Center for Ballet Across America

The Kennedy Center's fifth annual Ballet Across America festival runs from May 28-June 2, and it shines a spotlight on women's creativity and leadership by presenting two female-led companies: Dance Theatre of Harlem and Miami City Ballet. May 28-30, audiences can see DTH in George Balanchine's Valse Fantasie, Dianne McIntyre's Change, Claudia Schreier's Passage and Geoffrey Holder's Dougla. June 1-2, MCB presents Balanchine's Walpurgisnacht Ballet, Sir Kenneth MacMillan's Carousel Pas de Deux, the jointly choreographed Brahms/Handel by Jerome Robbins and Twyla Tharp, and Justin Peck's Heatscape. On May 31 the companies come together for a shared program; dancers from both ensembles present the world premiere of Pam Tanowitz's Gustave Le Grey No. 1 to a score by Caroline Shaw.

The Joffrey Ballet's Collaboration With the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Includes a World Premiere

May 30-June 1, The Joffrey Ballet collaborates with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on a program titled Stravinsky & The Joffrey Ballet. The dancers will perform two works to music by Igor Stravinsky: Christopher Wheeldon's Commedia to his Pulcinella Suite and the world premiere of Stephanie Martinez's Bliss!, set to Dumbarton Oaks Concerto. The Symphony will also play works by Gioachino Rossini and Maurice Ravel. Above, CSO conductor Matthias Pintscher and Joffrey artistic director Ashley Wheater discuss Stravinsky's role in the ballet canon.

ABT's Twyla Tharp Trio Features the Company Premiere of "Deuce Coupe" 

After three weeks dedicated to Alexei Ratmansky's oeuvre, American Ballet Theatre's Metropolitan Opera House season changes course with Tharp Trio. This program, running May 30-June 3, features three diverse Twyla Tharp ballets: The Brahms-Haydn Variations, Deuce Coupe and In The Upper Room. Deuce Coupe, set to music by The Beach Boys, will be a company premiere; it debuted in 1973 with dancers from the Joffrey Ballet and Twyla Tharp Dance. Above, Tharp shares what it's been like to work with three generations of ABT dancers.

National Ballet of Canada's All Forsythe Program Includes Two Company Premieres 

June 1-8 marks National Ballet of Canada's Physical Thinking program, celebrating the work of William Forsythe. The lineup includes The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude and Approximate Sonata 2016 (both company premieres), and The Second Detail. The above trailer, featuring second soloist Kathryn Hosier, is a fresh reminder of Forsythe's boundary-stretching style.

"A Midsummer Night's Dream" Takes the Stage at NYCB and Milwaukee Ballet

William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream has long been a source of creative fodder for artists of all mediums. This week, two Midsummer ballets, both to Felix Mendelssohn's beloved score, hit the stage.

  • New York City Ballet closes out its spring season with a run of George Balanchine's A Midsummer Night's Dream May 28-June 2. Above, Tiler Peck discusses dancing the ballet's Divertissement pas de deux.
  • May 30-June 2, Milwaukee Ballet closes out its 2018/19 season with its version, choreographed by Bruce Wells.

"The Merry Widow" Returns to Houston Ballet

May 31-June 9, Houston Ballet brings back British choreographer Ronald Hynd's The Merry Widow. This luscious ballet, set to a score by Franz Lehár, is based on Lehár's famous 1905 operetta about a secret romance taking place in the upper echelons of society. Above, Houston Ballet dancers talk about why they love this production.

PNB's Presents a Mixed Bill of Audience Favorites 

Pacific Northwest Ballet presents its final mixed bill of the season May 31-June 9. The program includes a a trio of classics—George Balanchine's Theme and Variations and Tarantella and Jose Limón's The Moor's Pavane—as well as a new favorite, company dancer Price Suddarth's Signature. PNB's Kyle Davis and Angelica Generosa discuss Tarantella in the above video.

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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