Trending

What to Watch: Wendy Whelan in Conversation With Four Famous Balanchine Ballerinas

From left: Allegra Kent, Kay Mazzo, Gloria Govrin, Merrill Ashley and Wendy Whelan. Eduard Patino, Courtesy NDI.

On Monday evening, four 20th century New York City Ballet stars joined Wendy Whelan in conversation for an event titled Balanchine's Ballerinas hosted by National Dance Institute, the dance education organization that former NYCB dancer Jacques d'Amboise founded in 1976. D'Amboise introduced the four ballerinas taking the stage as dancers who "graced Balanchine and were graced by him." Hearing the ensuing conversation between Wendy Whelan and Allegra Kent, Kay Mazzo, Gloria Govrin and Merrill Ashley proved just that; the sense of inspiration that George Balanchine gleaned from his muses, and the deep appreciation he had for each individual's unique traits.


Former NYCB dancers Wendy Whelan, Allegra Kent, Kay Mazzo, Gloria Govrin, Merrill Ashley and Jacques d'Amboise

Eduardo Patino, Courtesy NDI

The evening wove a panel discussion moderated by Whelan together with archival video footage and performances by current NYCB and American Ballet Theatre dancers in roles made famous by the older generation. A particularly striking moment came when seeing NYCB principals Sterling Hyltin and Jared Angle dancing excerpts from Balanchine's 1972 Duo Concertant; the live performance transitioned seamlessly into a video recording of Mazzo and Peter Martins, the piece's originators, reminding the viewers of the true timelessness of Balanchine's oeuvre.

Sterling Hyltin and Jared Angle dancing Duo Concertant

Eduardo Patino, Courtesy NDI

Highlights of the panel discussion (available below) include each ballerina identifying the qualities Balanchine looked for in his company members, their favorite roles and their advice for young dancers. They also share priceless anecdotes about adjusting to company class, falling onstage during premieres, Balanchine as a "master psychologist," and more. Balanchine lovers and dance history fans alike won't want to miss this; check it out now!

Instagram

Are you a total bunhead who loves to write? You might be the perfect fit for Pointe. We're seeking an editorial intern who's equally passionate about ballet and journalism.

Keep reading...
Sponsored by Ellison Ballet
Rachel Neville, Courtesy Ellison Ballet

If you've got your heart set on dancing for, say, San Francisco Ballet, you should attend a school that specializes in Balanchine, right? Not necessarily: It's actually a misconception that you have to train in a particular style or technique in order to pursue a career in that style. Ellison Ballet in New York City—which specializes in Vaganova technique—is living proof: Graduates of Ellison's year-round program and summer intensives go on to ballet companies that perform in a wide range of styles, and use what they've learned from Vaganova to land jobs.

Here are five reasons why studying Vaganova technique can actually make you a sought-after dancer for any number of ballet companies:

Keep reading...
Ballet Training
Students at Ellison Ballet's Classical Pas de Deux Intensive learning the pas from Don Quixote. Rachel Neville, Courtesy Ellison Ballet.

Summer intensives are wonderful opportunities to focus on your technique and artistry, study with new teachers and take classes you may not regularly get. But in addition to traditional multi-week, all-encompassing programs, many schools are now adding shorter "specialty" intensives that address specific areas or skills. These supplemental weeks (which usually follow the longer programs) offer short, deep dives into the choreographic process, variations, partnering or life as a professional dancer. While regular summer programs are fairly predictable, these hyper-focused intensives vary widely in their environments, intentions and requirements. And while it's a good opportunity to add weeks to your summer or train at more than one school, some may restrict admission to or prioritize those attending their full summer program. Before jumping in, look closely at what's involved and think about what you need.

Keep reading...
Ballet Training

Josephine Lee of the California-based ThePointeShop talks about what to do if one of your feet is stronger than the other. She's fitting Becca, who's struggling to get over her box on the left.

Keep reading...