Emily Parker and Mate Szentes rehearse Balanchine's Agon. Photo by Anastasia Petukhova, Courtesy ACB.

American Contemporary Ballet Thrives in Los Angeles

.The last few years have seen notable company closures, including Silicon Valley Ballet in San Jose, California. But Los Angeles–based American Contemporary Ballet is moving in the opposite direction, extending its contract and filling out its now-year-round roster of dancers.

"We got the advice to grow slowly because it allows you to make your mistakes on a small scale," says artistic director Lincoln Jones, who founded the company to present ballet as a musical art form. To whit, the repertoire includes work by Balanchine, Fred Astaire and Jones. Performances are always accompanied by live music."


We decided that after five years we would expand. In the past, summer has been our biggest season, but now we're going to a 36-week contract, from May 8 to February 19." The company currently has 8 women and 4 men, plus 6 apprentices for a total of 18—up from 14 dancers, in the past.

"The kind of work we do will be the same," says Jones, referring to the company's largely neoclassical repertoire. "But we're adding a Nutcracker. And now we'll be able to do larger-scale work." Other changes include a burgeoning apprentice program and steps toward a full school. The company will keep its annual bicoastal auditions and continue to rehearse in its permanent home, the 32nd floor of a skyscraper in downtown L.A.

ACB has remained afloat despite a turbulent economy by pinpointing the kind of work that Angelenos want to see. "We knew that it would be hard to come into a city that lacks a long history of ballet," Jones says. The company appealed to music fans by partnering with The Da Camera Society, a venerable presenter of chamber music, and enticed new audience members by performing in nontraditional venues like warehouses. "We hold a performance series with our artistic collaborators, like photographers and actors, who offer a different perspective on ballet. We want an audience that's as knowledgeable about ballet as they can possibly be."

Latest Posts


Paul Kolnik, Courtesy NYCB

NYCB's Maria Kowroski Reflects on the Challenges, Joys and Mysteries of Balanchine’s "Mozartiana"

The first time I was called to learn Mozartiana, I didn't think I would actually get to do it. It's a coveted ballerina role in the company, and I was still early in my career. But I got to dance it once or twice, and then not again for many years. The ballet isn't in our repertoire that often, so each time we've performed it I've been at a different level as a person and as an artist.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Getty Images

Ask Amy: How Can I Overcome My Fear of Pirouettes on Pointe?

I have a terrible fear of falling when doing turns on pointe. I sometimes cry in class when we have to do new turns that I'm not used to. I can only do bad singles on a good day, while some of my classmates are doing doubles and triples. How can I get over this fear? —Gaby

Keep reading SHOW LESS
xmb photography, Courtesy The Washington Ballet

The Washington Ballet's Sarah Steele on Her At-Home Workouts

Ballet at home: Since she's not preparing for any immediate performances, Steele takes ballet barre three to four times a week. "I'm working in more of a maintenance mode," she says, prioritizing her ankles and the intrinsic muscles in her feet. "If you don't work those muscles, they disappear really quickly. I've been focusing on a baseline level of ballet muscle memory."

What she's always working on: Strengthening her glute-hamstring connection (the "under-butt" area), which provides stability for actions like repetitive relevés and power for jumps. Bridges are her go-to move for conditioning those muscles. "Those 'basic food group'–type exercises are some of the best ones," she says.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks