Updated on 2/6/2021
The ballet world has seen its share of ups and downs in the past year, but that hasn't stopped dancers, choreographers and directors around the globe from creating inspiring new material. From new video projects to world premieres and reimagined seasons, we've got our eyes on plenty of newsworthy events this year. Check out some of the exciting projects coming up this February.
Collage Dance Collective's RISE
Memphis-based Collage Dance Collective celebrates Black History Month with RISE, a virtual program honoring the memory and contributions of Black history and civil rights activists. The triple bill features CDC artistic director Kevin Thomas' Rise, a commemoration of the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Also included in the program are Kevin Iega Jeff's Trilogy, which reflects on the harrowing struggle for civil rights from 1863 to the present day, and Monologue, a striking solo piece by Princess Grace Award recipient Joshua Manculich.
Subscribers gain virtual access to the program throughout February. For nonmembers, a 30-minute abbreviated version will air for international public viewing at 6:30 pm CT on February 1 via the local broadcasting channel, website and Facebook page of Memphis' WREG-TV. collagedance.org
Los Angeles–based Jacob Jonas The Company has launched a new online platform, Films.Dance, which brings together dancers and choreographers around the globe in a new, 15-part series of short dance videos. Filmed across 52 cities in 25 countries, the project engages over 150 dance artists from New York City Ballet, Martha Graham Dance Company, the Paris Opéra Ballet, the Royal Danish Ballet, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, National Ballet of Canada, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Nederlands Dans Theatre and many more. Films.Dance kicked off its first release, Kaduna, on January 25 and airs one new film per week each Monday at 9 am PT. Viewers can access released films for free and learn more about the project on the Films.Dance website and social media. films.dance/
Myles Thatcher World Premiere at San Francisco Ballet
Dancers from San Francisco Ballet in Myles Thatcher's new work
Courtesy San Francisco Ballet
San Francisco Ballet soloist Myles Thatcher premieres a new work this month for SFB's 2021 digital season. Filmed around various city landmarks, including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Golden Gate Park and onstage at the War Memorial Opera House, the ballet is set to Steve Reich's Variations for Vibes, Pianos, and Strings, with film direction by Ezra Hurwitz. Thatcher's piece, titled COLORFORMS, premieres alongside Dwight Rhoden's LET'S BEGIN AT THE END and Mark Morris' Sandpaper Ballet as part of SFB's Digital Program 02, running February 11–March 3. (Viewers can purchase single-stream access or a digital package via the SFB website.) A short film documenting Thatcher's Zoom-infused creation process is available on SFB's social media channels. sfballet.org
Joffrey Ballet's New "Boléro"
Joffrey Ballet artist Anais Bueno will star in Yoshihisa Arai's Boléro
Courtesy Joffrey Ballet
Joffrey Ballet presents the world premiere of Boléro, choreographed by company artist Yoshihisa Arai. Filmed at Joffrey's Gerald Arpino Black Box Theatre, this virtual premiere marks the first time the company has performed since February of 2020 due to pandemic-related closures. The ballet, set to Maurice Ravel's famous orchestral composition, features eight men and seven women, with artist Anais Bueno as a spotlighted performer. The piece also includes costuming by Joffrey dancer Temur Shuluashvili, who incorporated protective face masks into the design. Originally intended for the Joffrey Studio Company, Arai's work has been expanded for the full company and adapted for virtual audiences. Boléro will stream for free on February 26 at 7 pm CT via Joffrey's YouTube channel. joffrey.org
Heaven on Earth Festival: Velaa Ballet Week
San Francisco Ballet principal Julian MacKay and Mariinsky Ballet principal Xander Parish lead a series of curated performances, master classes and interviews for the exclusive Heaven on Earth Festival: Velaa Ballet Week from February 8–14. Held on the private Velaa Island in the Maldives, the event is open to guests who reserve the weeklong stay on the island's resort—but dance fans will also be able to tune in virtually. Designed as an international gala, the festival features two performances starring MacKay and Parish, as well as American Ballet Theatre principal Christine Shevchenko, Bolshoi Ballet first soloist Alena Kovaleva, English National Ballet first soloist Katja Khaniukova, and Boris Zhurilov, a first soloist with Stanislavsky Nemirovich-Danchenko Theatre. The dancers will perform a classical program on February 10 and a second performance featuring contemporary works on February 12.
Thankfully, the performances and Q&A sessions will be streamed at a later date (stay tuned for updates) via the MacKay Productions YouTube channel. Dancers are also invited to tune in to a master class on February 12, streamed through the Julian MacKay's Instagram account (a recording of which will be available for 24 hours). velaaprivateisland.com
NYCB's Taylor Stanley at Jacob's PIllow
Taylor Stanley (far left), Jacquelin Harris, Jodi Melnick, Lloyd Knight, Ned Sturgis and Allysen Hooks in rehearsal at Jacob's Pillow.
Courtesy Jacob's Pillow
This month, New York City Ballet principal dancer Taylor Stanley joins a diverse group of performers and choreographers for Pillow Lab, the annual residency program at Jacob's Pillow. Stanley will work on two Pillow-commissioned works created by postmodern choreographer Jodi Melnick and 2020 Guggenheim fellow Shamel Pitts. Melnick's ensemble piece will feature Stanley alongside Lloyd Knight, of the Martha Graham Dance Company; Jacquelin Harris, of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater; Gallim Dance's Allysen Hooks; and Ned Sturgis, of Dušan Týnek Dance Theater. Meanwhile, Pitts will choreograph a solo work for the NYCB principal. A short film following the residency will be available February 18 at 7 pm ET via the Jacob's Pillow YouTube channel (viewers must RSVP here). jacobspillow.org