Have you ever dreamt of the chance to choreograph for American Ballet Theatre? Thanks to ABT Incubator, the company's newly launched choreographic initiative directed by company principal (and recent author) David Hallberg, that wish could become a reality this fall. The two-week choreographic lab will run from October 31-November 10 at ABT's New York studios and will give both members of the company and freelance choreographers the chance to create new work on dancers from ABT and the ABT Studio Company. Participants will also have access to crucial dance making tools including a stipend, studio space, collaborators, feedback and mentorship from Hallberg and other artists. They'll present their creations in a private showing on November 10. "It has always been my vision to establish a process-oriented hub to explore the directions ballet can forge now and in the future," said Hallberg in a statement released today. "I am thrilled that Incubator will provide the resources for emerging and established creators to explore movement and new paths in dance."
When it comes to studio attire, The Washington Ballet's Venus Villa loves to have choices. While at home in Washington, DC, her bag usually overflows with skirts and warm-ups in all different colors. "I am more girly than sporty," she says of her style. She's also never without multiple lipsticks, and she selects the right shade to match her leotard each day. On tour in New York City for a Guggenheim Works & Process showing, Villa pared the contents of her dance bag down to the essentials: only one skirt, but still three lipsticks.
On Sunday, June 10, Pacific Northwest Ballet principal Karel Cruz will take the stage with the company for the last time. A native of Cuba, Cruz danced with Ballet Nacional de Cuba and the Venezuelan companies Ballet Clasico de Cámara and Teatro Teresa Carreño before joining PNB in 2002. In 2009, Cruz was promoted to principal and married fellow PNB principal Lindsi Dec. In addition to their frequent onstage partnership, the couple is also raising a young son, Koan, and co-running Solu, a dancewear line (check out a very hectic day in their life here). Earlier this week we had the chance to chat with Cruz as he reflected on his 16-year career with PNB.
How did you choose the works that you'll dance at your retirement show this weekend?
Dancer designers seem to be a dime a dozen these days. With three already in Pacific Northwest Ballet's ranks (principals Elizabeth Murphy and duo Lindsi Dec and Karel Cruz), it might seem like an over- saturated market for another dancewear brand to be able to turn heads. Enter Angeli Mamon. With her new line, Belleza Athletica (pronounced "bay-yes-ah"), the corps member is carving out a niche in studio wear with leotards and skirts that match her confident personality.
Mamon in Belleza Athletica.
Molly Smolen started her professional career at age 14 as an apprentice with Cincinnati Ballet, and then joined American Ballet Theatre at 15 years old. Onstage, her talent and technique made her fit in with adults, but offstage, her young age caused problems.
Smolen, a now retired principal dancer with Birmingham Royal Ballet and San Francisco Ballet, struggled to handle the responsibility of a full-time job while living on her own in New York City. Her technique slipped due to long layoffs and repertoire limited to corps work. At 16, her body began to change, which led to humiliating experiences, like being cut from Swan Lake after she was told her thighs were too big.
As told to Amy Brandt.
Myrtha is a role I've always loved to watch, but when Tamara Rojo asked me to dance it for English National Ballet's Giselle last year as a guest artist, I thought she was crazy. The role is usually for a tall, strong dancer. I'm strong, but I'm also very petite. I thought people might criticize me for that. I also wore brown tights onstage, since I'm a brown dancer, and I was nervous people wouldn't understand that—but I got great comments on it.
Paul Michael Bloodgood, a longtime leading man at Ballet Austin, ends his 19-year career with the company this weekend in Paul Vasterling's Peter Pan. But in between layoffs and after rehearsals, he's been steadily working towards his next phase: creating a full-length feature documentary called Trenches of Rock. The movie, which focuses on his father's Christian heavy metal band and the challenges they faced in the music industry, has been enjoying screenings at film festivals around the world—and winning awards along the way. Pointe spoke with Bloodgood about how he's feeling as he ends his dance career and transitions into filmmaking.
What's on your mind as you wrap up your final performances at Ballet Austin?
I just want to be in the moment as much as I can and savor the time onstage with my coworkers. Upon reflection of the past 20 years, the moments of honest emotion and connection with others are what I will cherish the most. There are so many aspects of humanity to explore, and I am so grateful to have had so much time to cogitate what dance has to offer to the human condition.
Ballet dancers train their entire lives to hone one skill. And that skill doesn't require them to use their voices onstage. But Jerome Robbins' West Side Story Suite requires a different kind of dancer; a triple threat who can also sing and act. This spring, the dancers at Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre were pushed in a whole new direction while working on the company's program in honor of Robbins' centennial, opening this week.
Robbins is known for his iconic choreography for both ballet and Broadway; West Side Story Suite is the perfect intersection of those two worlds. He choreographed West Side Story, the timeless modern-day retelling of Romeo and Juliet, for Broadway in 1956. In 1961 he followed that up with choreography for the film, showing audiences worldwide that sometimes dance is the coolest way to work through a conflict. In 1995, Robbins condensed the main song and dance numbers from the show into West Side Story Suite, a 36-minute work for New York City Ballet.
PBT produced a series of fun videos interviewing dancers and coaches on what it's been like to learn to sing and act (while dancing). As principal Julia Erickson puts it, "I have had a lot of experience singing... in the car and in the shower."