News

A Choreographic Competition Grows in Arkansas

When former Ballet West principal Michael Beardon took over Ballet Arkansas in 2013, he wanted to find ways to connect the small, 13-member company to the greater dance world and help its young artists develop. “The more interaction they have with knowledgeable and talented choreographers, the faster they’re going to grow,” says Beardon. To do so, he initiated Visions: A Choreographic Competition, an event that also aims to nurture emerging dancemakers and educate audiences. Next week, the second annual Visions competition is set to hit Little Rock’s Center for Performing Arts University Theatre, showcasing the works of five choreographers in an interactive, “So You Think You Can Dance”-style setup.

 

This year’s competitors were selected from 31 candidates, and include Boston Ballet corps member Boyko Dossev, former Pacific Northwest Ballet dancer Barry Kerollis, former Ballet West principal and Visceral Dance Chicago dancer Tom Mattingly, Post:Ballet’s Aidan DeYoung and former Houston Ballet soloist Ilya Kozadayev. The choreographers have one week to create a 4–6 minute selection on Ballet Arkansas dancers before a public performance on August 22. A panel of three judges, headlined by Hubbard Street Dance artistic director Glenn Edgarton, will evaluate each work, with the winner receiving a commission to complete their new ballet for the company’s spring program in May 2016.

 

Beardon set up the performance much like an episode of SYTYCD: A short video shot during the rehearsal process introduces the featured choreographer, followed by a performance of his work. Immediately afterward, the finalist takes the stage, where the judges provide live feedback. “The competitors get input on how to make their craft better, but it also educates our audience about what makes good dance,” says Beardon. Each judge receives 25 percent of the vote, but the audience collectively determines the last 25 percent. “They can definitely influence the outcome,” says Beardon, who admits the process also helps him crowd source what his community responds to. “I love to know what they like, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised in the past.” Seems like a smart way to build a devoted audience. For tickets and more information, click here.

The Conversation
Ballet Stars
Angela Sterling, Courtesy PNB

Your teacher at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, Marcia Dale Weary, recently passed away. What impact did she have on you?

I feel deeply indebted to her. She shaped my life's course, and I know that were it not for her, I would not be living out my dream today. She led by example through her remarkable commitment to her work, as well as her genuine kindness and generosity.

You were a trainee with San Francisco Ballet. What was that experience like?

It was an exposure to different schools of thought. We were mostly in the full-lengths, and watching run-throughs of Sleeping Beauty and Don Quixote was revolutionary for me. But I was young and far away from home. That transition was hard. My body started changing. It wanted to be fleshy. Biology is cruel in that way. I desperately wanted to fit in, but it wasn't meant to be.

Keep reading... Show less
The Royal Ballet's Vadim Muntagirov and Marianela Nuñez in La Bayadère. Photo by Bill Cooper, Courtesy ROH.

Do you ever wish you could teleport to London and casually stroll into The Royal Opera House to see some of the world's best-loved ballets? Well, we have a solution for you: The Royal Ballet's 2018-19 cinema season.

Whether live or recorded, the seven ballet programs listed below, streaming now through next October, will deliver all of the magic that The Royal Ballet has to offer straight to your local movie theater. Can you smell the popcorn already?

Keep reading... Show less
Site Network
Left: Misa Kuranaga in The Veritginous Thrill of Exactitude. Gene Schiavone, Courtesy Boston Ballet. Right: Sasha Mukhamedov in Apollo. Altin Kaftira, Courtesy Dutch National Ballet.

San Francisco Ballet just announced some major news: longtime Boston Ballet star Misa Kuranaga will be joining the company as a principal dancer for the 2019-20 season, while Dutch National Ballet principal Sasha Mukhamedov has been hired as a soloist. They join a slew of newly promoted SFB principals and soloists, announced earlier this year.

Keep reading... Show less
Ballet Stars
Xiao Nan Yu in company class. Aaron Vincent, Courtesy National Ballet of Canada.

On June 22, National Ballet of Canada principal Xiao Nan Yu will retire from the stage after 22 years with the company. Originally from Dalian, China, Yu studied at the Shen Yang School of Dance and the Beijing Dance Academy before coming to Canada's National Ballet School at age 17. She joined the National Ballet of Canada less than two years later, and was promoted to principal in 2001.

"She is a supreme dance actress with an innate ability to bring the audience into her world," says NBoC artistic director Karen Kain. "Nan has always brought such a calm confidence into the studio and has been a role model for so many dancers I will miss her generosity both inside the studio and out." We spoke with Yu as she prepared for her final week of performances. She opened up about her initial culture shock upon moving to Toronto, her thoughts on artistry and why she chose Hanna Glawari in The Merry Widow as her final role.

Keep reading... Show less