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Onstage This Week: Wayne McGregor's New "Rite of Spring" for ABT, Miami City Ballet Opens the Spoleto Festival, and More!

Boston Ballet in Bournonville's "La Sylphide." Photo by Angela Sterling, Courtesy Boston Ballet.

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


Wayne McGregor Makes His ABT Choreographic Debut

Ever since Vaslav Nijinsky shocked Paris audiences in 1913 with his Rite of Spring for the Ballets Russes, dancemakers from Sir Kenneth MacMillan to Pina Bausch have tried their hands at choreographing to Igor Stravinsky's infamous score. This spring, Wayne McGregor will be added to that list. The Royal Ballet resident choreographer's first work for American Ballet Theatre, titled AFTERITE, will premiere at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City on May 21. Known for his grounded and experimental movement style, McGregor's work will feature video designs by innovative filmmaker Ravi Deepres and sets and costumes by designer Vicki Mortimer, both longtime collaborators. Alessandra Ferri, who has collaborated with McGregor in the past, will join ABT as a guest artist.


Spoleto Festival Features Miami City Ballet

The Charleston, SC-based Spoleto Festival USA celebrates its 42nd season May 25-June 10. Though the festival's focus spans from jazz to opera, the 2018 lineup also includes its fair share of dance, starting with Miami City Ballet. MCB first takes the stage on the festival's opening night in a tribute to Jerome Robbins on the art of the pas de deux. The program pays homage to a Spoleto Festival performance organized by Robbins in 1973. May 26-27 MCB presents works by Alexei Ratmansky and Sir Kenneth MacMillan alongside George Balanchine's Walpurgisnacht Ballet and Justin Peck's Heatscape. Check out MCB's trailer for Heatscape before its 2015 premiere below (one of our favorite collaborations between Peck and filmmaker Ezra Hurwitz.)


Four World Premieres at Oregon Ballet Theatre

OBT's program Closer, May 24-June 3, features four world premieres, three of which are by company dancers Peter Franc, Makino Hayashi and Katherine Monogue. All three are set to original music by Grammy-award winning composer André Allen Anjos (RAC). The fourth piece on the program is a world premiere titled Departures by choreographer Helen Simoneau. Closer will be presented in a studio setting at BodyVox Dance Center in Portland, OR, giving audiences an intimate experience to see these new works up close.


Nashville Ballet Gives Choreographers 12 Hours to Make a New Work

Nashville Ballet's Emergence series gives audiences a glimpse of art only 12 hours in the making, pushing dancemakers to trust their instincts and work quickly. A long list of choreographers, including a handful of Nashville Ballet dancers and faculty, will have the chance to show their work over three separate programs—see the full list here. This year's program will also feature a collaboration with Nashville country music club The Bluebird Cafe. Emergence runs May 24-June 3 at Nashville Ballet's Studio A.


Understand the Physics Behind Texas Ballet Theater's "Swan Lake"

Texas Ballet Theater brings back Ben Stevenson's Swan Lake from May 25-27 in Fort Worth and June 1-3 in Dallas. Rather than make a trailer for the upcoming performance, TBT created two videos featuring physicist Dr. Magnus Rittby explaining the physics behind the ballet's turning and jumping sequences. Below, Dr. Rittby explains how Swan Lake's famous fouettés work (don't worry, we promise it's not boring). Click here to hear what goes into jumping.


"La Sylphide" Opens at Boston Ballet

May 24-June 10, Boston Ballet presents 19th century Danish choreographer August Bournonville's beloved story ballet La Sylphide in conjunction with rarely seen Bournonville divertissements, including excerpts from Flower Festival in Genzano, From Siberia to Moscow and Napoli. Have you ever watched a story ballet and wondered what all of the pantomime really means? Boston Ballet created this handy video with subtitles to help viewers understand what the Sylph and James are talking about.

The Conversation
News
Ashley Bouder in George Balanchine and Alexandra Danilova's Coppélia. Erin Baiano, Courtesy NYCB.

Hollywood may have the Oscars, but ballet has the Prix de Benois de la Danse. Held every spring at Moscow's Bolshoi Theater, the prestigious international awards ceremony recognizes dancers, choreographers, composers and designers for their extraordinary work on and off the stage. This year's laureates, chosen by a jury, were announced during an awards ceremony last night, followed by a star-studded gala featuring many of the nominated artists.

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Viral Videos
Still via YouTube

American Ballet Theatre principal James Whiteside is known for more than just his uber-charismatic presence on the ballet stage; He doubles as both the drag queen Ühu Betch and the pop star JbDubs. Whiteside's newest musical release, titled WTF, came out last week, and is for sure his most ballet-filled song to date. Both the lyrics and the choreography are jam-packed with bunhead references, from the Rose Adagio to Haglund's Heel to a framed portrait of George Balanchine. Not to mention the fact that he and his four backup dancers (Matthew Poppe, Douane Gosa, Maxfield Haynes and Gianni Goffredo) absolutely kill it in pointe shoes.

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Ballet Stars
Crystal Serrano and Jorge Andrés Villarini in Christopher Wheeldon's This Bitter Earth. Rachel Neville, Courtesy Dance Theatre of Harlem.

Crystal Serrano never envisioned someday joining Dance Theatre of Harlem, the company founded by Arthur Mitchell to show the beauty and uplift of classical ballet on dancers of all colors. Her career began with Sacramento Ballet, which she joined after one year in Pacific Northwest Ballet School's Professional Division, but her time there was cut short by illness. After recovering, she felt so worn down that she left dancing behind and enrolled at the University of Washington. But she soon realized she'd made a mistake. "I thought, what am I doing?" she recalls. "I had to dance." With a fresh perspective and renewed determination, Serrano took an apprenticeship with Oregon Ballet Theatre before landing a job with Ballet San Antonio, where she soon rose to soloist.

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News
School of American Ballet students (Rosalie O'Connor, courtesy SAB)

Do you have a "Strictly Ballet"–sized hole in your heart? Good news: There's an upcoming docuseries, "On Pointe," that just might fill it.

The School of American Ballet is teaming up with Imagine Documentaries and DCTV for the project. Though it's not yet clear where "On Pointe" will air, we do know that it'll follow talented SAB students preparing for professional ballet careers—much as Teen Vogue's popular "Strictly Ballet" web series did back in the day. But "On Pointe" marks the first time documentary filmmakers have been allowed access to the school, and it sounds like it'll paint an even more complete picture of the dancers' lives inside and outside the studio.

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