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Onstage This Week: Ballet Austin's "Grimm Tales," World Premieres at SFB and Royal Winnipeg, and More!

Natalie Frank's drawings show another side of the Brothers Grimm's stories in Ballet Austin's new work. Michael Thad Carter, Courtesy Ballet Austin.

Wonder what's going on in ballet this week? We've rounded up some highlights.


Ballet Austin Brings "Grimm Tales" to Life in New Full-Length Ballet

In Ballet Austin's Grimm Tales, debuting March 29–31, artistic director Stephen Mills dives into the dark, uncensored side of three of the world's best-loved fairy tales: "Snow White," "The Frog King" and "The Juniper Tree." Mills' ballet is inspired by visual artist Natalie Frank's vividly colored drawings, which focus on the feminist interpretations of Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm's infamous stories. The ballet will feature new artwork by Frank and music by composer Graham Reynolds.

World Premieres by Yuri Possokhov and Liam Scarlett at San Francisco Ballet

San Francisco Ballet's spring season continues this week with two new programs. The first is Lyric Voices, opening March 27 and featuring three contemporary works: Trey McIntyre's Your Flesh Shall Be a Great Poem, Christopher Wheeldon's Bound To and the world premiere of SFB choreographer in residence Yuri Possokhov's "...two united in a single soul..." to music by Handel and Daria Novo.

Space Between opens March 29. The sixth of SFB's eight programs, it offers Justin Peck's Rodeo: Four Dance Episodes, Arthur Pita's Björk Ballet and a world premiere by British choreographer Liam Scarlett titled Die Toteninsel.

Royal Winnipeg Ballet Collaborates with Canadian Rock Band

Canadian roots-rock band the Bros. Landreth joins forces with choreographer Philippe Larouche to present a world premiere for Royal Winnipeg Ballet titled Next of Kin. The work, part of the company's Ballet & The Band program running March 28-30, looks at the intergenerational impact of addiction and will feature English to ASL translation. Also on the program are Jera Wolfe's Bare and Mark Godden's Miroirs.

An Evening of Premieres at Kansas City Ballet

From March 28-31, Kansas City Ballet presents New Moves, its intimate annual choreography showcase. This year, KCB is showing works by six choreographers: company dancers James Kirby Rogers, Emily Mistretta and Courtney Nitting, local choreographers Gary Abbott and Haley Kostas, and Pacific Northwest Ballet soloist Price Suddarth. KCB's Second Company will open the performance in a work by choreographer Ryan Jolicoeur-Nye.

James Sewell Ballet's Fresh Take Program Features Two World Premieres

Minneapolis-based James Sewell Ballet brings two world premieres to the stage March 29-30 as part of the company's Fresh Take program. Body Beats, choreographed by Sewell, is a collaboration with local composer Martin Dosh. The two artists built their new work around ideas of improvisation, neurological and physical impulses and boxing. Also on the bill is New York City-based choreographer Gabrielle Lamb's Thaw, a reflection on Minneapolis' cold winters. Sewell selected Lamb out of over 50 choreographers who responded to a nationwide call to create a new work.

Four Ben Stevenson Works Onstage at Texas Ballet Theater

Texas Ballet Theater's mixed bill, running March 29-31, showcases four works by artistic director Ben Stevenson. First up is Four Last Songs set to Richard Strauss' masterpiece of the same name; next is Twilight & Esmeralda, two romantic pas de deux set one right after each other; the final work is L, a jazzy tribute to Liza Minnelli. Catch a glimpse of L in the above video.

Richmond Ballet Presents Diverse Studio Program

Richmond Ballet's Studio Two program brings two very different works to the stage March 26-31. The first is Tom Mattingly's Figure in the Distance to music by Philip Glass. Mattingly first created the work for Richmond Ballet's New Works Festival last season. Second on the program is José Limón's famous The Moor's Pavane, set to a score by Henry Purcell.

American Repertory Ballet Celebrates Three American Choreographers

ARB in Peterson's Tears of the Moon

Lois Greenfield, Courtesy ARB

New Jersey-based American Repertory Ballet presents American Made at the Kaye Playhouse in New York City for one night only on March 30 . This triple bill features Kirk Peterson's Tears of the Moon, ARB resident choreographer Mary Barton's Trois Voix (three voices) and Paul Taylor's celebrated Airs.

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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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