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Onstage This Week: World Premiere at Australian Ballet by Company Dancer, ABT's "Swan Lake" Opens at the Met, And More

Sara Webb and Connor Walsh with Artists of Houston Ballet in "Swan Lake" choreographed by Stanton Welch. Photo by Amitava Sarkar, Courtesy Houston Ballet.

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


The Australian Ballet's Triple Bill, Verve, Includes New Work by Company Dancer Alice Topp

Verve, a triple-bill program from The Australian Ballet running June 21-30 in Melbourne, will host revivals of works from resident choreographers Stephen Baynes and Tim Harbour, as well as a world premiere from company coryphée Alice Topp. Topp's Aurum is inspired by kintsugi, a Japanese art in which broken ceramics are mended using lacquer colored with silver or gold, so that the cracks are emphasized, instead of hidden. In Aurum, Topp applies that philosophy to the human ability to find beauty in vulnerability and imperfections. Completing the bill are Baynes's Constant Variants, which pairs neo-classical ballet with a Tchaikovsky score, and Harbour's Filigree and Shadow, a contemporary ballet featuring striking set and lighting design.



Christine Shevchenko and Aran Bell Make Debuts in ABT's Swan Lake at the Met

Week six of ABT's Met season marathon opens June 18 with Swan Lake. Ukrainian-American Christine Shevchenko, who was just promoted to principal last year, will make her New York debut as Odette/Odile (read our story about her preparation here). Excellence in dance is often de ned at the exclusion of disability. Corps member Aran Bell will also perform as von Rothbart for the first time. If Bell's name sounds familiar, it's because he was featured in the documentary First Position when he was only 11 years old. It's super exciting for a corps dancer as young as him to be cast in a principal role (He also made his debut as Romeo in Romeo and Juliet last week). In this new video from ABT, principals Misty Copeland, Isabella Boylston and Devon Teuscher describe what the role of Odette/Odille means to them.


Royal Danish Ballet Returns to Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival After a Decade's Absence

From June 20-24, the Royal Danish Ballet will perform a series of classic Bournonville pas de deux at Jacob's Pillow, the festival that Mikhail Baryshnikov called "one of America's most precious cultural assets." This will be a unique opportunity to see excerpts of Bournonville ballets such as La Sylphide and Napoli (you can see a preview of La Sylphide in the video below.) Jacob's Pillow's relationship with the Royal Danish Ballet actually dates all the way back to 1954, and Pillow founder Ted Shawn was knighted by the King of Denmark for his contributions to dance in 1957.


Hear Stanton Welch Discuss His Reimagined Swan Lake

Houston Ballet's staging of Stanton Welch's Swan Lake returns this week, running from June 23-July 1. According to Welch, producing his own staging of the classic ballet has been a dream of his since he was very young, and his goal in putting it together was to take the pieces of the ballet he found illogical and to make them logical. For example, Welch's Swan Lake begins with a prologue explaining how Odette was transformed into a swan, and the prince first meets her as a young maiden, not a bird. Principal dancer Yuriko Kajiya, who has danced with Houston Ballet for four years following many years at ABT, is one of the four dancers performing as Odette/Odile. See her perform excerpts of the role while Welch discusses the production in the video below.

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During one of Charlotte Nash's first few weeks with Houston Ballet II, she was thrown into a run-through of Balanchine's Theme and Variations. "I had never really understudied before and I didn't know what I was doing," she says. "I fell right away and was quickly replaced." For Nash, now a dancer with Festival Ballet Providence, the episode was a tough lesson. "I was mortified, but then I said to myself, 'Okay, I need to figure out how to learn things more quickly.'"

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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."

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We dug into the details of Stretch Pointe's most game-changing features:

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

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

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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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