Are You A Budding Choreographer? This Competition May Be for You.

When you're an emerging choreographer, nothing's better than free space, beautiful dancers, exposure to artistic directors and a chance to showcase your work. From now until December 15, Ballet Arkansas is accepting applications for its Visions Winter 2017 Choreographic Competition. The competition, which will be held on March 3, gives dancemakers five days to choreograph on Ballet Arkansas dancers, culminating in a public performance in front of a panel of judges (which includes Kansas City Ballet artistic director Devon Carney). The winner receives a contract to produce their completed work at a Ballet Arkansas main stage performance. Chosen applicants must be available for rehearsals February 25-March 3 and will receive a travel stipend during their stay.

Members of Ballet Arkansas in a piece by 2016 Visions Choreographic Competition winner Jimmy Orrante. Photo by Cranford Co, Courtesy Ballet Arkansas.

Visions, now in its third year, has expanded into a semi-annual event, with its winter competition held at the Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville and its summer competition held in Little Rock. (Applicants not selected for the event on March 3 will be automatically added to the summer applicant pool.) It's just one of several signs of growth for Ballet Arkansas since coming under the helm of artistic director Michael Bearden in 2013. In addition to adding resident choreographer Kiyon Gaines to the roster, the company has expanded its touring, increased its board membership and acquired new rehearsal space in downtown Little Rock. For more information on how to apply, click here.

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News
The Joffrey Ballet's Amanda Assucena and Greig Matthews in Cathy Marston's Jane Eyre. Cheryl Mann, Courtesy Joffrey Ballet.

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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.

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Herman Cornejo in Don Quixote. Gene Schiavone, Courtesy ABT.

American Ballet Theatre's fall season at Lincoln Center's Koch Theater offers a chance to see the company in shorter works and mixed-repertoire programs. This year's October 16–27 run honors principal Herman Cornejo, who's celebrating his 20th anniversary with the company. Cornejo will be featured in a special celebratory program as well as a new work by Twyla Tharp (her 17th for the company), set to Johannes Brahms' String Quartet No. 2 in G Major, Op. 111. The October 26 program will include Cornejo in a pas de deux with his sister, former ABT dancer Erica Cornejo.

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Ballet Careers
Gray Davis with wife, ABT soloist Cassandra Trenary, after his graduation from the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy. Courtesy Trenary.

When Gray Davis retired from American Ballet Theatre in July of 2018, he moved home to South Carolina, unsure of what would come next. Last month, just over a year later, Davis graduated from the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy. Today, he's working as a deputy for the Abbeville County Sheriff's Office.

Though Davis danced in ABT's corps for 11 years and is married to soloist Cassandra Trenary, to many he's best known for saving the life of a man who was pushed onto the subway tracks in New York City in 2017. The heroic effort earned him the New York State Liberty Medal, the highest civilian honor bestowed by a member of the New York State Senate. We caught up with Davis to hear about how the split second decision he made in the subway affected the course of his life, what it's been like starting a second career and what he sees as the similarities between ballet and law enforcement.

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