Ballet Stars

Alban Lendorf on Being Part of The Royal Danish Ballet & American Ballet Theatre (Plus, His Favorite Role at ABT)

Lendorf in Don Quixote. Photo by Rosalie O'Connor, courtesy ABT.

What do you enjoy most: performing, or being in the studio?
The moment right after performing. It's never a perfect show, but however you feel about it, there is a satisfaction, a sense of fulfillment.

What qualities do you admire most in other dancers?
Openness. We're all afraid of being ourselves: Like actors and singers, you're being judged all the time, and you know you're being judged. You need to let go and try to be honest with yourself, because that's what appeals most to the audience and other dancers.


Joining American Ballet Theatre was a big leap. What was the attraction?
ABT is an extremely attractive company. I guested there a few times, and I really liked the way they were working. Also, on a personal level, I really wanted to spread my wings and fly, to move away to another country.

What was RDB artistic director Nikolaj Hübbe's reaction when you told him?
He'd already told me years earlier, when we went on tour to the States: One day, if you want to leave and go here, it's okay. He gave me his blessing because he knows, more than anyone—he also went to New York to dance. He saw that what is good for me is good for Danish ballet.

Lendorf in 'Le Corsaire.' Photo by Rosalie O'Connor, courtesy ABT.

Are the audiences different in New York and in Denmark?
In New York, they can get very excited, which is really fun. It's more polite in Denmark: You're almost not allowed to clap, because people will turn around and shush you. As a dancer onstage, if people are applauding you, even if it's in the middle of a variation, they're still expressing gratitude or excitement, so I welcome it.

In rehearsal, are you more intense or relaxed?
I love to give everything in rehearsal—sometimes the coaches have to tell me to calm down because I don't need to do my variation full-out four times. I've learned lately that when you have seven hours of rehearsals, you also need to trust that you're a good dancer, to trust your technique.

Lendorf and Copeland in 'Giselle.' Photo by Gene Schiavone, courtesy ABT.

What's your favorite ballet so far with ABT?
I think Giselle, because I'd never done Albrecht before. It's one of the most iconic roles, and working with Kevin McKenzie and Irina Kolpakova was a big milestone for me. I got to dance with Misty Copeland, who was also learning it for the first time, so we had that experience together.

What would you be if you weren't a dancer?
Probably an actor or a pianist. I've loved the piano since I was 4. It was actually my piano teacher's idea to try dance because I needed to learn how to play a waltz by Chopin!

What's your favorite thing to cook?
I try to bake Danish rye bread— you can get rye bread here, but it's really boring and gray! In Denmark you get this really cool version with a lot of seeds, which I try to re-create.

News
Alice Pennefather, Courtesy ROH

You ever just wish that Kenneth MacMillan's iconic production of Romeo and Juliet could have a beautiful love child with the 1968 film starring Olivia Hussey? (No, not Baz Luhrmann's version. We are purists here.)

Wish granted: Today, the trailer for a new film called Romeo and Juliet: Beyond Words was released, featuring MacMillan's choreography and with what looks like all the cinematic glamour we could ever dream of:

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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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Viral Videos

What do Diana Vishneva, Olga Smirnova, Kristina Shapran and Maria Khoreva all have in common? These women, among the most impressive talents to graduate from the Vaganova Ballet Academy in recent years, all studied under legendary professor Lyudmila Kovaleva. Kovaleva, a former dancer with the Kirov Ballet (now the Mariinsky), is beloved by her students and admired throughout the ballet world for her ability to pull individuality and artistry out of the dancers she trains. Like any great teacher, Kovaleva is remarkably generous with her wealth of knowledge; it seems perfect, then, that she appears as the Fairy of Generosity in this clip from a 1964 film of the Kirov's The Sleeping Beauty.

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Ballet Careers
Ali Cameron, Courtesy Queensland Ballet

An artistic director's position was far from Li Cunxin's mind when the Brisbane-based Queensland Ballet came calling in 2012. Since his retirement from the stage in 1999, the Chinese-Australian dancer had embarked on a highly successful career at the helm of a stockbroking firm. His wife, former dancer and current Queensland ballet mistress Mary McKendry Li, changed his mind, Li remembers. "She said, 'Wouldn't it be nice to give something back to the art form that we both have benefited so much from?' "

Seven years later, Li's contribution has been dramatic. Queensland Ballet, once a struggling choreographer-led company, has become one of Australia's most exciting repertoire ensembles, with Liam Scarlett on board as artistic associate. The budget has more than quadrupled, to over $20 million USD, and Li has launched not one but three major construction projects, with world-class headquarters, a theater and a new academy all in progress.

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