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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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Boston Ballet's Kathleen Breen Combes, María Álvarez and Dawn Atkins. Christopher Duggan, Courtesy Jacob's Pillow.

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

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Ballet Stars
Alexandra MacDonald (front row, third from left) didn't win a medal at the Genée International Ballet Competition, but says she came home inspired and newly motivated by the people she met there. Photo Courtesy Genée IBC.

Ballet competitions are an exciting part of any dancer's career. Yet while scholarships, prize money, job offers and the prestige that comes with winning a medal are compelling incentives to participate in one, they're not the only benefits. In fact, many dancers who go home empty-handed still look fondly on the experience and go on to become successful professionals.

This week, the 2019 Genée International Ballet Competition kicks off in Toronto. From August 20-29, over 50 dancers, ages 15–19 and trained in the Royal Academy of Dance syllabus, will perform three solos in the hopes of winning a medal and a $10,000 cash prize. Many past medalists have gone on to illustrious careers—but so have those who didn't win anything. We spoke with three Genée alumni now dancing professionally who know what it's like not to place. Read on to find out why they deem their comp experiences a success, and how you can make the most of yours—whether you win or not.

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Ballet Stars
Skylar Brandt and Josephine Lee. Screenshot Courtesy Lee.

Master pointe shoe fitter Josephine Lee of the California-based ThePointeShop chats with American Ballet Theatre soloist Skylar Brandt to hear about how she prepares her pointe shoes. We think Brandt might win an award for how long she makes her shoes last; watch the below video for the staggering number of days (or weeks!), and to hear about all of her unique customizations and pro tips.

Courtesy Chiara Valle

Chiara Valle is just one of many dancers heading back to the studio this fall as companies ramp up for the season. But her journey back has been far more difficult than most.

Valle has been a trainee at The Washington Ballet since 2016, starting at the same time as artistic director Julie Kent. But only a few months into her first season there, she started experiencing excruciating pain high up in her femur. "It felt like someone was stabbing me 24/7," she says. Sometimes at night, the pain got so bad that her roommates would bring her dinner to the bathtub.

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