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Onstage This Week: Jerome Robbins, Women's History Month and More

Boston Ballet's Misa Kuranaga and Nelson Madrigal in John Cranko's "Romeo and Juliet." Photo by Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy Boston Ballet.

From celebrations of Jerome Robbins' centennial to exciting premieres to old classics, this week is jam packed with ballet. We rounded up highlights from eight companies to give you a sense of what's happening onstage this week.


The Washington Ballet

On March 14, The Washington Ballet will present a triptych of new works. Gemma Bond's premiere ties-in to Women's History Month, and she discusses the connection in this video. Also on the bill are creations by celebrated dancers Clifton Brown and Marcelo Gomes. For video teasers of their works, click here.



Celebrating Jerome Robbins

This year is packed with works by Jerome Robbins, as companies celebrate the late choreographer's centennial. March 15–18, Cincinnati Ballet's Director's Cut: Musical Masters program is featuring Robbins' Fancy Free alongside works by George Balanchine and Garrett Smith.

New York Theatre Ballet also celebrates Robbins with a run at the 2018 Harkness Dance Festival at the 92nd Street Y, March 1617. The troupe will present three rarely seen Robbins works: Rondo (1980), Septet (1982) and Concertino (1982).


Ballet Idaho

March 15–18, Ballet Idaho presents their biannual contemporary studio series titled NewDance, featuring works by company dancers and local choreographers. This year's program includes pieces by Phyllis Rothwell Affrunti, Daniel Ojeda, Nathan Powell, Ethan Schweitzer-Gaslin and special guest Monique Meunier, a former New York City Ballet principal.


Boston Ballet

If you missed one of the many productions of Romeo and Juliet that sprung up around Valentine's Day, don't worry: Boston Ballet is presenting John Cranko's version of the tragic tale March 15–April 8. Catch a sneak peek of the drama in this video featuring company stars Misa Kuranaga and Paulo Arrais.


Atlanta Ballet

March 16–18 Atlanta Ballet presents Black Swan, featuring Petipa's Swan Lake Act III and a world premiere by emerging choreographer Craig Davidson. Before you go, get into the mode with this stunning slow-motion video of Jessica Assef transforming into the Black Swan.


Pacific Northwest Ballet

March 16–25 marks the company's annual Director's Choice program. Artistic director Peter Boal chose Ulysses Dove's Red Angels, William Forsythe's Singerland Duet and One Flat Thing, reproduced, and the world premiere Ezra Thomson's The Perpetual State. When One Flat Thing, reproduced premiered at PNB in 2008 it caused quite a controversy, with audiences calling into question whether the piece could be defined as ballet, or even dance. Hearing PNB dancer Miles Pertl's perspective in the below video might help you to decide for yourself.


Lemon Sponge Cake Contemporary Ballet

The Boulder, Colorado–based contemporary ballet company presents two works by co-founder Robert Scher-Machherndl in a one-night-only performance on March 17 at the Dairy Arts Center. Although one of the pieces, Vertical Migration Experiment, is a duet, the other is much larger: The Slow Flight is a premiere with a cast of 22 dancers from the Colorado Ballet Training Program.

Ballet Careers
Sisters Isabella Shaker and Alexandra Pullen. Photo Courtesy Alexandra Pullen.

This is the second in a series of articles this month about ballet siblings.

My mom was in the corps de ballet at American Ballet Theatre. A generation later, so was I. As if that's not enough for one family, my younger sister Isabella Shaker dreams of following in our dancing footsteps. Her endeavor, and her status as somewhat of a child prodigy, stirs feelings of pride and apprehension within me, since I have lived through the ups and downs of this intense yet rewarding career.

Ballet will always be my first love and the thing that brings me the most joy, and my dance career has opened endless opportunities for me. However, it's a difficult career path that requires a lifelong dedication. It's super competitive and can lead to body image issues, physical injury and stress. Most dancers will face some of these problems; I definitely dealt with all three.

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Ballet Stars
Photo by Gabriel Davalos, Courtesy Valdés

For decades the name Alicia Alonso has been virtually synonymous with Ballet Nacional de Cuba, the company she co-founded in Havana in 1948. Alonso died on October 17, just shy of what would have been her 99th birthday. In recent years, she had stepped back from day-to-day decision-making in the company. As if preparing for the future, in January, the company's leading ballerina, 42-year-old Viengsay Valdés, was named deputy director, a job that seems to encompass most of the responsibilities of a traditional director. Now, presumably, she will step into her new role as director of the company. Her debut as curator of the repertory comes in November, when the troupe will perform three mixed bills selected by her at the Gran Teatro de la Habana Alicia Alonso. The following has been translated from a conversation conducted in Spanish, Valdés' native tongue.

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Ballet Stars
Photo by Jayme Thornton

It's National Bullying Prevention Month—and Houston Ballet breakout star Harper Watters is exactly the advocate young dancers facing bullying need. Watters is no novice when it comes to slaying on social media, but his Bullying Prevention Month collaboration with Teen Vogue and Instagram is him at his most raw, speaking about his own experiences with bullies, and how his love of dance helped him to overcome adversity. Watters even penned an incredible op-ed for Teen Vogue's website, where he talks candidly about growing up queer. Catch his amazing anti-bullying video here—and, as Watters says, "Stay fabulous, stay flawless, stay flexible, but most importantly, stay fearless."

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News
Alicia Alonso with Igor Youskevitch. Sedge Leblang, Courtesy Dance Magazine Archives.

Her Dying Swan was as fragile as her Juliet was rebellious; her Odile, scheming, her Swanilda, insouciant. Her Belle was joyous, and her Carmen, both brooding and full-blooded. But there was one role in particular that prompted dance critic Arnold Haskell to ask, "How do you interpret Giselle when you are Giselle?"

At eight, Alicia Alonso took her first ballet class on a stage in her native Cuba, wearing street clothes. Fifteen years later, put in for an ailing Alicia Markova in a performance of Giselle with Ballet Theatre, she staked her claim to that title role.

Alonso received recognition throughout the world for her flawless technique and her ability to become one with the characters she danced, even after she became nearly blind. After a career in New York, she and her then husband Fernando Alonso established the Cuban National Ballet and the Cuban National Ballet School, both of which grew into major international dance powerhouses and beloved institutions in their home country. On October 17, the company announced that, after leading the company for a remarkable 71 years, Alonso died from cardiovascular disease at the age of 98.

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