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Onstage This Week: ABT's Met Season Opens with "Giselle," Ballet West's National Choreographic Festival Celebrates Women Leaders, And More

Artists of Ballet West. Photo by Beau Pearson, Courtesy Ballet West.

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


ABT Met Opera Season Opens with Giselle

This week American Ballet Theatre moves into the Metropolitan Opera House for their annual 8-week season. From Alexei Ratmansky's new Harlequinade to the world premiere of AFTERITE by Wayne McGregor, this season is packed. But week one opens with a classic: Giselle. Though a number of ABT's most celebrated dancers will have their turn in the lead roles this week, the May 18th performance will be danced by guest star Natalia Osipova in the title role opposite ABT principal David Hallberg as Albrecht.


Ballet West National Choreographic Festival Celebrates Women in Ballet Leadership Roles

Last year, Ballet West debuted their National Choreographic Festival. This year, the festival is back, but with a new twist: All of the pieces are by female choreographers and all of the invited companies are run by female directors. Starting on May 17, the festival runs over two consecutive weekends and features four companies alongside Ballet West: Richmond Ballet, The Washington Ballet, Cincinnati Ballet and Charlotte Ballet. The first weekend includes Richmond Ballet in Akwarium by Katarzyna Skarpetowska, The Washington Ballet in Gemma Bond's MYRIAD, and Ballet West in Natalie Weir's Jabula. Catch a sneak peek in the below video.


World Premiere by Ib Andersen at Ballet Arizona

From May 15-June 2, audiences can catch Ballet Arizona in Eroica, a new work by artistic director Ib Andersen to Beethoven's Third Symphony. Performances are held outdoors at the Desert Botanical Garden, with striking views of the night sky and Arizona desert as a background.


Indianapolis Ballet Closes Its Debut Season

Indianapolis Ballet's debut season closes May 18-20 with three works: Don Quixote Grand Pas de Deux, artistic director Victoria Lyras' A Midsummer Night's Dream and Éclat!, a new ballet by Lyras to Sergei Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Major.


World Premiere by Tom Gold for New York Theatre Ballet at Boston's Gardner Museum

On May 17, New York Theatre Ballet will head to Boston to perform a program titled The Classical World in Modern Choreography at the Gardner Museum. The performance takes place in conjuncture with the exhibition of the antiquarian marble Farnese Sarcophagus (see it here) which includes imagery referencing the myth of Dionysus and Ariadne. NYTB will perform Vaslav Nijinsky's Afternoon of a Faun, Jerome Robbins Antique Epigraphs and a world premiere by Tom Gold titled Blind Revelry. Gold's work places the tale of Dionysus and Ariadne in modern times, set to music by Stephen Sondheim.

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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