Maya Beiser and Wendy Whelan in THE DAY

Nils Schlebusch, Courtesy Jacob's Pillow Dance

Onstage This Week: Wendy Whelan in "THE DAY," Vail Dance Fest Week 2, World Premiere at American Contemporary Ballet and More!

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


Wendy Whelan Returns to the Stage

This week, New York City Ballet associate artistic director Wendy Whelan joins celebrated cellist Maya Beiser onstage at Jacob's Pillow in THE DAY, choreographed by postmodern icon Lucinda Childs. Exploring memory and resilience, this multi-genre collaboration between Beiser and Childs features music by Pulitzer Prize–winning composer David Lang. After its July 31–August 4 run at Jacob's Pillow, THE DAY is scheduled to tour to New York City and Washington, DC.

Stars Descend on the Vail Dance Festival 

The second week of the Vail Dance Festival has arrived, and with it a deluge of stars and premieres. July 30 marks the the festival premiere of BalletX in Annabelle Lopez Ochoa's new The Little Prince. On July 31, M.A.I. co-founders Lil Buck and Jon Boogz, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's Hope Boykin and New York City Ballet principal Lauren Lovette join forces for UpClose: Just Dances, a rehearsal-style performance.

On August 2 and August 3, things get even more glamorous. The two International Evenings of Dance feature a seemingly endless list of stars from NYCB, American Ballet Theatre, the Mikhailovsky Ballet, Alonzo King LINES Ballet, Pam Tanowitz Dance, Dorrance Dance and much more. A handful of the many ballet highlights include Catherine Hurlin and Julian MacKay in a pas de deux from Don Quixote, Unity Phelan and Calvin Royal III in excerpts from Apollo and Maria Kochetkova and Joseph Gordon in a pas de deux from La Sylphide.

World Premiere of "Death and the Maiden" at American Contemporary Ballet

American Contemporary Ballet artistic director Lincoln Jones presents the world premiere of Death and the Maiden August 1-11 at The Fashion Theater in Los Angeles. Jones' newest ballet is set to Franz Schubert's string quartet of the same name, which he wrote in 1824 as a testament to his own mortality. Check out ACB's Instagram for beautiful rehearsal shots of this new work.

Stars of American Ballet Take Aspen

New York City Ballet principal Daniel Ulbricht's summer pickup company, Stars of American Ballet, takes the stage in Aspen on August 3. The troupe, which is being presented by Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, is bringing classic works including George Balanchine's Tarantella, Jerome Robbins' Andantino and Christopher Wheeldon's This Bitter Earth.

Louisville Ballet Presents "Cleopatra: Queen of Kings" Outdoors

July 31-August 4, Louisville Ballet presents Cleopatra: Queen of Kings as part of the company's partnership with Kentucky Shakespeare's Festival in Central Park. Choreographed by Louisville Ballet dancer Erica De La O, Cleopatra is set to an original score by Kentucky-based composer Scott Moore and features step dancers from Western Middle School. This week's performances are all free and open to the public.

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In November, the French dancer Chloé Lopes Gomes went public with accusations of institutional racism against Staatsballett Berlin, first reported by the German magazine Der Spiegel. In the article, several anonymous dancers confirm her account. Lopes Gomes, 29, who trained in Marseille and at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy, danced for the Ballet de l'Opéra de Nice and Béjart Ballet Lausanne before joining Staatsballett Berlin as a corps de ballet member in 2018, under then co-directors Johannes Öhman and Sasha Waltz. After the company told her in October that her contract, which ends in July, would not be renewed, she shared her story with Pointe.


I didn't know I was the first Black female dancer at Staatsballett Berlin when I joined the company in 2018. I learned that from German journalists who came to interview me almost immediately. I grew up in a mixed-race family—my mother was French, my father from Cape Verde—and I was educated to believe that we all have the same opportunities.

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Here are the basics of that plot: The Archer School of Ballet is the premiere conservatory in Chicago. During the first three minutes of the episode (no spoilers!), star student Cassie Shore is pirouetting along the edge of the roof of the school when she's pushed off by a hooded man (Her boyfriend? A jealous lover? A ballet master or choreographer?) and dies. Neveah Stroyer, who'd previously been rejected from the school, is flown in from L.A. to replace her.

While the series can verge on melodrama—the pilot does open with a dancer being pushed off a roof, after all—its depiction of the finer details of the ballet world feels spot-on. That was paramount to the production team. "We wanted the dancers to feel represented in their athleticism, and in the sometimes ugly business of making something beautiful," says executive producer Jordanna Fraiberg. "The show encompasses the grit and sweat, before it's wrapped up in costumes and makeup."

Catch "Tiny Pretty Things" streaming on Netflix Monday, December 14.

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VAM Productions, Courtesy YAGP

Are You Competing for the Right Reasons?

As a 17-year-old student at The School of American Ballet, I had little awareness of ballet competitions—and to be fair, at that time (the early 1990s), there weren't very many. Youth America Grand Prix and its many spawns did not yet exist, and the famous international events like the Prix de Lausanne seemed highly elite and out of reach. But I did participate in one competition (similar to today's YoungArts), open to high school seniors, in which a fairly nonjudgmental system gave competitors level rankings instead of numerical scores. In other words, there was no single winner; the emphasis was on having an educational experience and interacting with peers from around the country.

Even so, it was still a competition, and although I rehearsed my variations diligently, when it came time to perform at the event, I felt drastically underprepared. Unsure of how to properly warm up, fuel and pace myself, I was blinded by insecurity among the other dancers, who seemed so confident and mature. I hadn't even considered my goal—why was I doing this? Needless to say, I did not dance my best and came home demoralized, mad at myself, regretful and slightly embarrassed.

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