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.

Keep reading... Show less
Ballet Stars
Megan Amanda Ehrlich, Courtesy LEAP Program

Claire Sheridan wanted to change the status quo. Leading up to the 1990s, she recalls, "there was a 'shut up and dance' mind-set," and as the founder of the dance program at St. Mary's College of California and a longtime teacher in professional companies, she had seen too many dancers retire with no plan for a successful career transition. "At that time, if you thought about education and the future," she says, "you were not a committed dancer. I wanted to fight that."

With the support of St. Mary's, Sheridan developed the Liberal Education for Arts Professionals program, or LEAP, an innovative liberal-arts bachelor's degree program designed especially for professional dancers. She first presented her idea to executives at San Francisco Ballet. "Kudos to that company, because they said, 'This is great,'" she says. "Eleven of the first 18 dancers who started in August 1999 were from SFB."

Keep reading... Show less
Ballet Careers
Sanjay Saverimuttu with Tiffany Bovard in rehearsal for Alun Jones' The Sleeping Beauty. Courtesy Louisville Ballet.

When Sanjay Saverimuttu graduated from college, he had no idea that a professional ballet career lay in store. After training on a pre-professional ballet track throughout high school, Saverimuttu earned a degree in biology from Stanford University. But college only reignited the 29-year-old Louisville Ballet dancer's love of the art form.

Keep reading... Show less
Ballet Stars
From left: Nicole, Claire and Emma Von Enck. Courtesy Texas Ballet Theater.

It's rare to find three siblings who wind up in the same career. But Nicole, Claire and Emma Von Enck prove that it's not only possible, but that it comes with major benefits. Nicole, 28, is a member of Texas Ballet Theater, while Claire, 26, and Emma, 22, are in the corps de ballet of New York City Ballet. Over time, the three sisters' shared passion has only brought them closer together; today they consider themselves each other's biggest cheerleaders.

Keep reading... Show less
News
Juliet Doherty in a scene from High Strung Free Dance. Cos Aelenei, Courtesy GVN Releasing

For a classically trained ballerina, Juliet Doherty hasn't had the most conventional career. The New Mexico native, who was initially trained by her mother at her grandmother's studio, spent three years as Clara in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular before heading to the San Francisco Ballet School, where she eventually became a trainee. But rather than join a company, Doherty has since pursued projects that blend her love of ballet and acting. In 2014 she worked alongside Tiler Peck in the Susan Stroman–directed musical Little Dancer, and later landed the lead role in the indie movie Driven to Dance.

Now, she's about to star in a major feature film: High Strung Free Dance, opening in movie theaters October 11. Doherty plays Barlow, a young ballerina who lands a spot in a new Broadway show called Free Dance. Along the way, a love triangle brews between Barlow, a hard-scrabble pianist named Charlie (Harry Jarvis) and the show's temperamental choreographer Zander (Thomas Doherty, no relation). Produced by Michael and Janeen Damian—the creators of 2016's High Strung starring Keenan Kampa—this dance-packed film features choreography by Tyce Diorio and SFB soloist Myles Thatcher.

We caught up with Doherty to talk about her experience making the movie, as well as her unique career path.

Keep reading... Show less
News
Karolina Kuras, Courtesy NBoC

It's hard to imagine the National Ballet of Canada without ballerina Greta Hodgkinson. Yet this week NBoC announced that the longtime company star will take her final bow in March, as Marguerite in Sir Frederick Ashton's Marguerite and Armand.

Keep reading... Show less
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.

Keep reading... Show less
Lindsay Martell at a class performance. Courtesy Martell.

More than once, when I'm sporting my faded, well-loved ballet hoodie, some slight variation of this conversation ensues:

"Is your daughter the dancer?"

"Actually," I say, "I am."

"Wow!" they enthuse. "Who do you dance with? Or have you retired...?"

"I don't dance with a company. I'm not a professional. I just take classes."

Insert mic drop/record scratch/quizzical looks.

Keep reading... Show less
Trending
Giannis Vlamos, Courtesy Kousouni.

Ballerina Maria Kousouni is used to an attentive audience. But when she stepped onstage in Paris this past July, her audience—not to mention the venue and the costumes—were a little unusual. After all, opening a couture fashion show for designer Celia Kritharioti during Paris Fashion Week—with British Vogue's editor in chief in the crowd—isn't exactly a typical gig. "I never imagined that I would be opening a haute couture fashion show in Paris," says KousounI, a principal dancer with the Greek National Opera Ballet. "To enter this world of fashion and beauty, which you usually admire from a distance, is a rare experience in a dancer's career."

Keep reading... Show less
News
Jon Ragel, Courtesy Co-Lab Dance

When American Ballet Theatre corps member Lauren Post started up her summer company, Co-Lab Dance, last year, she was looking for a way for her and her colleagues to keep dancing through ABT's two-month layoff. "The Met season ends and we're all in such great shape," says Post. With the help and encouragement of her mentor, she was able to raise enough money to produce her first season last September.

Those performances were a big success, with sold-out shows and a waiting list for tickets. Now, as Co-Lab Dance prepares to open its second season, Post has expanded on her early momentum with a residency and performance at Kaatsbaan International Arts Center and a bigger theater for the company's New York City shows September 6-7. It's a lot to plan—and was made all the more complicated when Post learned that she was due to have a baby two weeks before opening night. (She gave birth earlier than expected, on August 6, to a beautiful baby girl.)

Keep reading... Show less
Ballet Careers
Joe Lyman, Courtesy Kentucky Ballet Theatre

American Repertory Ballet's Ryoko Tanaka remembers her first class in the United States. She was 18 years old and a scholarship student at the Milwaukee Ballet summer intensive. "At barre, I reached out during demi-plié, and I saw the guy across from me in the class. I could tell he was enjoying himself. I could tell these people loved ballet. And I felt I fit." From then on the Japan native, now in her first season as a full company member with ARB, was certain the U.S. was where she was meant to make her career.

For dancers like Tanaka who cross borders to join American companies, the challenges of being far from home, adjusting to a new culture and navigating visa applications quickly become a fact of life. Yet, as these expat dancers' stories show, with a little patience, dancing abroad can be an incredible adventure.

Keep reading... Show less
Ballet Careers
Francisco Estevez as the Cavalier in The Nutcracker. David Andrews, Courtesy Colorado Ballet.

In early October, Colorado Ballet's Francisco Estevez will take the stage as Basilio, his first role as a principal. While this is a momentous occasion for any dancer, it's amplified for Estevez, who since 2013 has battled two cancer diagnoses.

After undergoing surgery for testicular cancer, the now 30-year-old dancer was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia, a rare form of blood cancer, in April 2018. He spent the following summer layoff undergoing treatment, adjusting to the many side effects that come with the oral chemotherapy drug. Though Estevez still takes the pills each night, he's hopeful that down the road he'll be able to stop. "The research is advancing quite quickly," says Estevez. "Twenty years ago this would have been a terminal illness, but with the advent of this new drug, people have been able to stay on it and live fairly normal lives."

Keep reading... Show less

mailbox

Get Pointe Magazine in your inbox