News

John Neumeier's "Anna Karenina" Comes to Toronto

Anna Laudere of The Hamburg Ballet in Anna Karenina. Photo by Kiran West, Courtesy National Ballet of Canada.

November 10–18, the National Ballet of Canada presents the North American premiere of John Neumeier's Anna Karenina at the Four Seasons Centre in Toronto. Co-produced with Hamburg Ballet and the Bolshoi Ballet, NBoC is the last of the three companies to present the new two-act production.

Anna Karenina: Inside the Studio | 2018 | The National Ballet of Canada www.youtube.com


Neumeier's adaptation condenses Leo Tolstoy's 19th-century masterpiece and sets it in the present with minimalist sets and costumes. The score melds selections by Tchaikovsky with modern choices by Alfred Schnittke and Cat Stevens/Yusuf Islam, juxtaposing the story's emphasis on Russian tradition with its modern retelling. Setting the story in the present day challenges the notion that society has progressed since the time of the novel. "We are no better at dealing with the double standard for men and women or the destruction of private lives by public office than Tolstoy's characters were in the 1870s," says NBoC principal ballet master Lindsay Fischer.

Hamburg Ballet's Edvin Revazov and Anna Laudere in "Anna Karenina." Photo by Kiran West, Courtesy NBoC.

Neumeier's most recent successes at NBoC include Nijinsky and A Streetcar Named Desire. According to Fischer, the company keeps returning to Neumeier because his "ability to capture the essence of a relationship and to show us what his characters want makes us care deeply about their lives."

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

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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.

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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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