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Onstage This Week: ABT's Met Season Opens, U.S. Premiere of "Pinocchio," Eifman Ballet in Chicago, and More!

Steven Visneau, Courtesy Texas Ballet Theater

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


ABT's Met Opera Season Opens With "Harlequinade"

American Ballet Theatre's annual eight-week long Metropolitan Opera House season opens May 13 with Alexei Ratmansky's Harlequinade, running through May 18. Following its premiere last year, Harlequinade is presented as part of a celebration of Ratmansky's 10-year anniversary as ABT's artist in residence. The season's next seven weeks are packed with classics like Le Corsaire, Manon, Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty, as well as newer works by Ratmansky, Twyla Tharp and Cathy Marston; see how many ballets you can spot in the above trailer.

Boston Ballet Presents a World Premiere by Principal Dancer Paulo Arrais

Boston Ballet presents Rhapsody May 16-June 9. This mixed bill features the world premiere of ELA, Rhapsody in Blue, choreographed by BB principal Paulo Arrais. It's set to a jazzy score by George Gershwin with scenic and costume design by artistic director Mikko Nissinen. Joining Arrais' new ballet are George Balanchine's Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2 and a trio of short works by Leonid Yakobson: Pas de Quatre, Rodin and the Boston Ballet premiere of Vestris. Above, dancers Kathleen Breen Combes, Rachel Buriassi and Maria Alvarez dance experts from the ballet to a poem by Taina Cavalcante Rocha; June 9 will mark Combes' final performance with the company.

Pinocchio Comes to Life at Texas Ballet Theater 

May 17-19 marks the U.S. premiere of Will Tuckett's Pinocchio at Texas Ballet Theater. A co-production with National Ballet of Canada, this full-length ballet made its debut in 2017. After its run in Dallas this week, the company will present Pinocchio in Fort Worth May 24-26. Tuckett worked with composer Paul Englishby, designer Colin Richmond and projectionist Douglas O'Connell to bring this story (and this puppet) to life.

Eifman Ballet Comes Stateside

Russia's St. Petersburg–based Eifman Ballet presents the North American premiere of The Pygmalion Effect, May 17-19 at Chicago's Auditorium Theatre. Choreographed by director Boris Eifman to music by Johann Strauss Jr., this ballet is inspired by the Greek mythological tale of Pygmalion, a sculptor who falls in love with his creation. Following its run in Chicago, The Pygmalion Effect will make its way to Costa Mesa, CA, Berkeley, CA and New York City.

Sacramento Ballet's Triple Bill Features World Premiere by Amy Seiwert

Sacramento Ballet presents Fast Forward May 16-19. This triple bill program includes Val Caniparoli's The Bridge, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa's Written and Forgotten and a world premiere by artistic director Amy Seiwert. Titled Elpis, Seiwert's new ballet features original music written and performed live by violinist Christen Lien. Catch a glimpse of company artists Dylan Keane and Ava Chatterson in rehearsal above.

Smuin Ballet's Dance Series 02 Is Back

Smuin Ballet presents its Dance Series 02 in Walnut Creek, CA, May 17-18 followed by a tour to nearby Mountain View and Carmel through June 1. The program, which had its debut in San Francisco last month, includes a new work by Amy Seiwert titled Renaissance, as well as company founder Michael Smuin's The Best of Smuin. Catch an interview with Seiwert in the above video.

Three Story Ballets Return

Houston Ballet brings back Ben Stevenson OBE's Coppélia May 17-26. Above, hear principal Karina González on dancing the role of Swanhilda.

May 16-19 Carolina Ballet presents Robert Weiss' Swan Lake.

New Jersey-based company Roxey Ballet features Mark Roxey's Cinderella May 18-19. The May 18 matinee performance is sensory-friendly, catering to children and adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder and with other special needs.

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The Joffrey Ballet's Amanda Assucena and Greig Matthews in Cathy Marston's Jane Eyre. Cheryl Mann, Courtesy Joffrey Ballet.

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

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Sponsored by BLOCH
Courtesy BLOCH

Today's ballet dancer needs a lot from a pointe shoe. "What I did 20 years ago is not what these dancers are doing now," says New York City Ballet shoe manager Linnette Roe. "They are expected to go harder, longer days. They are expected to go from sneakers, to pointe shoes, to character shoes, to barefoot and back to pointe shoes all in a day."

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.

We dug into the details of Stretch Pointe's most game-changing features:

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Herman Cornejo in Don Quixote. Gene Schiavone, Courtesy ABT.

American Ballet Theatre's fall season at Lincoln Center's Koch Theater offers a chance to see the company in shorter works and mixed-repertoire programs. This year's October 16–27 run honors principal Herman Cornejo, who's celebrating his 20th anniversary with the company. Cornejo will be featured in a special celebratory program as well as a new work by Twyla Tharp (her 17th for the company), set to Johannes Brahms' String Quartet No. 2 in G Major, Op. 111. The October 26 program will include Cornejo in a pas de deux with his sister, former ABT dancer Erica Cornejo.

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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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