Ballet Stars

Missed the "Balanchine's Guys" Live Stream? Watch It Here.

Edward Villella, Arthur Mitchell and Jacques d'Amboise. Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images, Courtesy NDI.

On Monday night, the National Dance Institute—the arts education organization founded by former New York City Ballet star Jacques d'Amboise—presented Balanchine's Guys, a lively discussion with d'Amboise and two other NYCB greats: Arthur Mitchell and Edward Villella. Many of their former NYCB colleagues, including Patricia McBride and Suki Schorer, were in the audience, and while the evening was sold out, NDI live-streamed part of the conversation. We know many of you weren't able to catch it, so we've included the video from NDI's Facebook page below. (There's a bit of a sound delay, but it's well worth the watch!)


All three shared priceless anecdotes of working with Balanchine. While NDI wasn't able to stream the whole discussion and performance, here are a few highlights from after the camera stopped rolling:


Edward Villella on dancing Prodigal Son: Villella claimed he only had one rehearsal with Balanchine on the role he would become most famous for. "Mr. B didn't like the ballet," Villella says. "He said 'I don't ever want to stage this again.'" (Villella then noted that Prokofiev, the ballet's composer, had once thrown Balanchine out of the theater.) As for Villella's advice on dancing the role, he says to look deeply at the character: "All this bravado, and underneath it is somebody terrified."

Arthur Mitchell on the creation of Agon: Mitchell explained that Balanchine choreographed Agon after taking a leave of absence when his wife, NYCB principal Tanaquil (Tanny) Le Clercq, developed polio and became paralyzed. Mitchell says that on the first day of rehearsal, Balanchine told him, "This must be perfect." As he crafted the famous pas de deux for Mitchell and Diana Adams, he was incredibly specific about how Mitchell partnered Adams, the way he should place his hands, hold her legs and move her feet. "In his mind, it was teaching Tanny to walk again."

Jacques d'Amboise on his dear friend, former NYCB principal Melissa Hayden: When d'Amboise heard that his Hayden was dying, he flew down to North Carolina's Wake Forest Hospital to visit her. He fondly recalled her joking about the existence of an afterlife. "She said 'There is an afterlife—it's what's left after the way you lived it. We did a good job.'" She died the following day.

News
Vadim Muntagirov and Marienela Nuñez in the Royal Ballet's Swan Lake. Bill Cooper, Courtesy Trafalgar Releasing.

Get your popcorn ready! The Royal Ballet is making its way to select North American movie theaters starting November 26 as part of The Royal Opera House's 2019/20 LIVE Cinema Season. Filmed at London's Covent Garden, the season continues through the spring and includes seven ballet productions—some pre-recorded, some captured live—ranging from 19th century classics to world premieres by Cathy Marston and Wayne McGregor. "We make sure we really give a mix of what you can get at the Opera House," says Royal Ballet artistic director Kevin O'Hare. "The idea that you're never really far from the theater is a nice one, and it's caught on fast."

Keep reading... Show less
Rachel Neville, Courtesy Audition Dancewear

When you dig through your collection of leotards before class, do you ever think about how they're made, or what they're made from? Chances are, most dancers don't, and Audition Dancewear wants to do something about that.

The company—run by two mother-daughter duos, Kathy and Caroline Perry and Shelly and Suzanna Lathrum—has begun making leotards from recycled materials to reduce their carbon footprint and raise awareness around plastic consumption. The result is a sleek line of leos that don't sacrifice style or function, and that use four or five recycled water bottles per leo.

Keep reading... Show less
News
Stella Abrera in Alexei Ratmansky's The Seasons. Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy ABT.

Yesterday, Kaatsbaan, the Tivoli, NY-based cultural park for dance, announced that Stella Abrera will join the organization as its new artistic director, effective January 1, 2020. This news come just weeks after we learned that Abrera will be taking her final bow with American Ballet Theatre in June.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored by The Rock School
From left: Sarah Lapointe, Derek Dunn and Jeanette Kakareka. Courtesy The Rock School

For more than five decades, The Rock School for Dance Education has been launching young dancers into professional ballet careers around the globe. Boasting distinguished alumni such as Beckanne Sisk, Michaela DePrince and Taylor Stanley, the Philadelphia-based institution has garnered a well-deserved reputation for pairing rigorous training with a tight-knit, welcoming community. Their summer intensives are no different, with a wealth of prestigious faculty members, many of whom are Rock School alums currently dancing at companies around the world.

What inspires busy pros to keep returning to their alma mater? We talked to three of The Rock School's buzziest alums about why they make it a priority to come back and teach:

Keep reading... Show less