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Onstage This Week: ABT's New "Harlequinade," Houston Ballet Celebrates Their Resilience Post-Hurricane, And More

Costume sketches for Alexei Ratmansky's new "Harlquinade" for ABT. Courtesy ABT.

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


ABT's New Harlequinade is Finally Here

The long wait for Alexei Ratmansky's Harlequinade for American Ballet Theatre is finally over. June 4-9, catch ABT at the Metropolitan Opera House in this bold and colorful tribute to the Italian commedia dell'arte traditions, based on the archival notes of Marius Petipa. If this trailer by Ezra Hurwitz is any indication, this new story ballet is sure to delight (fingers crossed that those dogs make their way to the stage).



Houston Ballet Presents Four World Premieres Celebrating the City's Resilience in the Wake of Hurricane Harvey

Houston Ballet's June 8-10 program titled Play includes two company favorites by artistic director Stanton Welch—Play and Bolero Triptych—alongside four world premieres that reflect on Houston's response to the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey. Three of the premieres are choreographed by Welch: class is set to a selection of Bach's "Goldberg Variations," and Revisit, Rebirth, Revolt and What the H Stands For were created in collaboration with local poets Deborah D.E.E.P. Mouton and Outspoken Bean, both of whom will perform live. Lastly, Houston Ballet dancers Oliver Halkowich, Melody Mennite, and Connor Walsh will present a new ballet titled What we keep.


Boston Ballet Brings Back Obsidian Tear in Their New York Philharmonic Debut

On June 8, Boston Ballet heads to NYC for a one night only performance with the New York Philharmonic at Lincoln Center. The company will be performing Wayne McGregor's Obsidian Tear as part of a program titled Foreign Bodies, a multidisciplinary event hosted by Esa-Pekka Salonen, concluding his tenure as the Philharmonic's composer in residence. Obsidian Tear is set to two of Salonen's compositions: Nyx and Lachen verlernt. You can check out the below trailer or see more excerpts of Obsidian Tear on Boston Ballet's Youtube page.


American Contemporary Ballet Celebrates Balanchine

Every year, the Los Angeles-based ACB presents an all Balanchine program. This year, from June 7-17, they're showcasing a different side of the great neoclassical choreographer with four pieces that show off his joyful reaction to the popular music of his day. ACB will perform excerpts from Who Cares?, Stars and Stripes, Union Jack and Western Symphony. ACB artistic director Lincoln Jones will also present a world premiere tribute to the style of these works.


Pacific Northwest Ballet's Closes 2017-2018 Season With One Final Encore

On June 10, PNB presents its annual one night only encore performance with some of the company's greatest hits. This year's performance also marks the retirement of longtime PNB principal Karel Cruz. Cruz will be dancing Alexei Ratmansky's Don Quixote pas de deux alongside his wife, principal Lindsi Dec, as well an excerpt from George Balanchine's Diamonds. The program also includes excerpts from Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, Jerome Robbins' West Side Story Suite, and more. The Season Encore also marks the farewell performance to soloist Matthew Renko and corps dancers Nicole Rizzitano and Carli Samuelson, who will be leaving the company at the end of the season.

Ballet Careers
Gray Davis with wife, ABT soloist Cassandra Trenary, after his graduation from the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy. Courtesy Trenary.

When Gray Davis retired from American Ballet Theatre in July of 2018, he moved home to South Carolina, unsure of what would come next. Last month, just over a year later, Davis graduated from the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy. Today, he's working as a deputy for the Abbeville County Sheriff's Office.

Though Davis danced in ABT's corps for 11 years and is married to soloist Cassandra Trenary, to many he's best known for saving the life of a man who was pushed onto the subway tracks in New York City in 2017. The heroic effort earned him the New York State Liberty Medal, the highest civilian honor bestowed by a member of the New York State Senate. We caught up with Davis to hear about how the split second decision he made in the subway affected the course of his life, what it's been like starting a second career and what he sees as the similarities between ballet and law enforcement.

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Sponsored by BLOCH
Courtesy BLOCH

Today's ballet dancer needs a lot from a pointe shoe. "What I did 20 years ago is not what these dancers are doing now," says New York City Ballet shoe manager Linnette Roe. "They are expected to go harder, longer days. They are expected to go from sneakers, to pointe shoes, to character shoes, to barefoot and back to pointe shoes all in a day."

The team at BLOCH developed their line of Stretch Pointe shoes to address dancer's most common complaints about the fit and performance of their pointe shoes. "It's a scientific take on the pointe shoe," says Roe. Dancers are taking notice and Stretch Pointe shoes are now worn by stars like American Ballet Theatre principal Isabella Boylston, who stars in BLOCH's latest campaign for the shoes.

We dug into the details of Stretch Pointe's most game-changing features:

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Ballet Stars
Megan Amanda Ehrlich, Courtesy LEAP Program

Claire Sheridan wanted to change the status quo. Leading up to the 1990s, she recalls, "there was a 'shut up and dance' mind-set," and as the founder of the dance program at St. Mary's College of California and a longtime teacher in professional companies, she had seen too many dancers retire with no plan for a successful career transition. "At that time, if you thought about education and the future," she says, "you were not a committed dancer. I wanted to fight that."

With the support of St. Mary's, Sheridan developed the Liberal Education for Arts Professionals program, or LEAP, an innovative liberal-arts bachelor's degree program designed especially for professional dancers. She first presented her idea to executives at San Francisco Ballet. "Kudos to that company, because they said, 'This is great,'" she says. "Eleven of the first 18 dancers who started in August 1999 were from SFB."

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Ballet Training
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I'm a college freshman, and my dance program isn't challenging enough. We only have ballet three times a week and a few hours of modern, and my classmates aren't as dedicated as I am. There's a small dance company nearby, where I was hoping to take extra classes, but I don't have a car. I want to transfer, but I feel like I won't be in good enough shape for auditions. —Tara

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