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Onstage This Week: Isabella Boylston's Ballet Sun Valley Festival Returns With An All-Star Lineup, NYCB Heads Upstate and More!

Isabella Boylston and Calvin Royal III at Ballet Sun Valley in 2017. Photo by Steve Dondero, Courtesy Ballet Sun Valley.

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


Isabella Boylston Curates Her Second Hometown Ballet Festival

American Ballet Theatre principal Isabella Boylston moonlights as artistic director of Ballet Sun Valley, which she founded last year. The second annual festival will run July 17–18 in Sun Valley, Idaho, Boylston's hometown. Boylston has created two programs composed of pas de deux and solo pieces from choreographers including George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins and William Forsythe, as well as Justin Peck's In Creases, the one work for a larger ensemble.


The festival brings together some of the brightest stars in the ballet world. Amongst Boylston's ABT colleagues are her bestie Lauren Post, fellow Cindy James Whiteside, and primas Misty Copeland and Gillian Murphy. The cast also features New York City Ballet's Tiler Peck, San Francisco Ballet's Dores André, Royal Danish Ballet's Ida Praetorius, Paris Opéra Ballet's Germain Louvet and more. See the full cast list or list of dancers here.

Like last year, the festival will be followed by an education day July 19, during which community members can take a range of dance classes, including one designed for those with special needs, taught by the participating dancers.


NYCB Heads Upstate to Its Summer Home

New York City Ballet returns to its longtime summer home this week in Saratoga Springs, New York. Although the engagement is short this year (at its peak, NYCB stayed for four weeks, but the appearance was cut to one week in 2017), a variety of ballets will still be on display. The July 17-21 run includes performances of Peter Martins' Romeo + Juliet; a lineup featuring Balanchine's Square Dance, The Four Temperaments and Symphony in C; and a night of 21st-century choreographers with Easy and Pulcinella Variations, by Justin Peck, Composer's Holiday by Gianna Reisen and Not Our Fate by Lauren Lovette. The week will end with a gala celebrating Jerome Robbins' centennial, including Robbins classics and Something to Dance About, a collection of the master dancemaker's musical theater choreography assembled by Warren Carlyle.


Island Moving Co. Hosts Its Ninth Summer Festival in Newport, RI

Island Moving Co.'s a Great Friends Dance Festival returns July 18–22 Newport, RI, with a mix of six small guest dance companies, specializing in contemporary dance and ballet. At least a dozen new pieces have been choreographed for the festival, and each night is preceded by an étude, a work that was choreographed and rehearsed the same day by festival participants. This year's resident dance company is Pittsburgh-based STAYCEE PEARL dance project, which uses multimedia, like video, to enhance its performances. Also appearing are Breathing Arts Company from Bari, Italy; carolyn dorfman dance from Union, NJ; CONTINUUM Contemporary/Ballet and Lotería Performing Arts from New York City; and Thomas/Ortiz Dance from New Canaan, CT. Watch Island Moving Co. rehearse Miki Ohlsen's A Tessellation of Beauty and Light below, which will be part of the festival.


Dimensions Dance Theatre of Miami Presents the Ballet of Wo(Men)

Hot off its tours of Jacob's Pillow and New York City's Joyce Theater, Dimensions Dance Theatre of Miami will perform Ballet of Wo(Men), a program of four ballets, at South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center on July 21. The night features two Balanchine works, Tarantella and Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux, as well as Imagined Notions by Yanis Pikieris and Leonardo Reale's Tangos de La Plata. Billed as "his & hers," the program celebrates 20th- and 21st-century choreography in which the men and women share equal dominance. Oddly, no choreography by women will be featured. "With this program, we are celebrating gender 'equality' and a sort of magic that happens when choreography affords them the ability to flaunt their comparable might and mastery side by side," artistic director Jennifer Kronenberg told Pointe in an email. Watch the company's season trailer below.

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Your Training
Dara Oda in Ben Stevenson's Alice in Wonderland with Texas Ballet Theater. Photo by Amitava Sarkar, Courtesy Texas Ballet Theater

These three current professionals opened up about opting for a degree first, how it impacted their careers and their favorite college memories.

Dara Oda, Texas Ballet Theater Dancer

Photo by Max Caro, Courtesy of Texas Ballet Theater

Belhaven University, BFA in dance (ballet emphasis), 2014

Growing up, Dara Oda knew she wanted to dance professionally, but she didn't feel ready to audition at the end of high school. "It was really easy to think of college as a fallback," she says. But her perception soon changed. "When I went to Belhaven and saw the level of training I would be getting, that encouraged me to pursue my dream but also be proactive and get my degree at the same time."

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Houston Ballet demi-soloist Alyssa Springer and principal Chun Wai Chan in rehearsal at Jacob's Pillow. Via YouTube.

Houston Ballet is at Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival this week—and company soloist Harper Watters is taking us behind the scenes as the company settles in at this historic landmark. Catch HB in action on their first day of class and rehearsal, and stay tuned for more vlogs from Watters throughout the week!

Ballet Stars
Kajiya as Gamzatti in Stanton Welch's La Bayadere. Photo by Amitava Sarkar, courtesy of Houston Ballet.

Your director Stanton Welch claims that you can hover in midair.
Really? I am not sure that I can do that. I do know that I repeat things over and over because I need to find my own way with each step, and maybe the floating quality happens in there somewhere. I just do it.

If you had to pick one signature role which would it be?
Just one? I can't. I have two. One is Giselle, because she's a human and not a creature, and people can relate to love and heartbreak. Stanton's Madame Butterfly is also important to me, because I met him when I was 17 and had heard that he thought I would be great in the role. I finally danced it in 2016 and it's a spectacular part.

Kajiya as Giselle in Stanton Welch's "Giselle." Photo by Amitava Sarkar, courtesy of Houston Ballet.

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Pacific Northwest Ballet School Professional Division students take Eva Stone's modern dance class. Photo by Lindsay Thomas, Courtesy PNB.

"Who here is terrified of choreographing?"

It was a question posed by Pacific Northwest Ballet School teacher Eva Stone five weeks ago, sitting on the floor among her class of female summer intensive students. "Almost all of them raised their hand, but I said, 'Don't worry, I got you,'" says Stone. "'I'm going to give you tools and skills and you're going to build on them.' It's amazing how their perspective changed in five weeks."

Stone's choreography class, introduced into the summer program last year, served as a pilot for a new initiative at PNB School beginning this September. New Voices: Choreography and Process for Young Women in Dance is a year-round class dedicated to educating and encouraging 14 to 16-year-old female students in the art of dancemaking. Made possible through funding from the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation, the 38-week course was created to help address the lack of women choreographers working in major classical ballet companies.

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The company is searching for an artistic director who is "humane"—and who might not be a choreographer. Photo by Paul Kolnik

Ever since Peter Martins retired from New York City Ballet this January amid an investigation into sexual harassment and abuse allegations, we've been speculating about who might take his place—and how the role of ballet master in chief might be transformed.

Until now, we've only known a bit about what the search for a new leader looks like. But yesterday, The New York Times reported that the company has released a job description for the position. Though the full posting isn't available to the public, here's what we're able to discern about the new leader and what this means for the future of NYCB:

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Lia Cirio and John Lam perform Tar and Feathers with Boston Ballet. Photo by Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy Boston Ballet.

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Ballet Training
Genée IBC gold medalist Monet Hewitt of New Zealand. Photo by Keith Sin, Courtesy Royal Academy of Dance.

If you missed the Genée International Ballet Competition's live-streamed finals this weekend, we've got you covered. Last night, 17-year-old Joshua Green of Australia and 16-year-old Monet Hewitt of New Zealand were named this year's gold medalists in the men's and women's category, out of 14 finalists. Caitlin Garlick (Australia) and Basil James (United Kingdom) won silver medals, while Enoka Sato (Japan) and Jordan Yeuk Hay Chan (Hong Kong) took home bronze. Chan also won the Margot Fonteyn Audience Choice Award, and Green was given the Choreographic Award for Dancer's Own Variation.

Gold medalist Joshua Green. Photo by Keith Sin, Courtesy RAD.

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Catch the winning dancers as they each perform Pacis' work below, and stay tuned—next year's Genée IBC takes place in Toronto.

News
Boston Ballet is bringing Jerome Robbins' Fancy Free to the Tanglewood Music Center in Lenox, MA. Photo by Gene Shiavone, Courtesy Boston Ballet.

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


Houston Ballet Brings a World Premiere to Jacob's Pillow

August 15-18, for the first time in almost four decades, Houston Ballet is appearing at Jacob's Pillow, the famous summer dance festival in Becket, MA. Headlining the program is Just, a world premiere commissioned by the Pillow and choreographed by HB artistic director Stanton Welch, set to music by contemporary composer David Lang. Also from Welch are Clear, an abstract piece for seven men and seven women, and excerpts from Sons de L'ame, with music by Chopin. The company will also perform In Dreams, choreographed by former Pillow choreographic associate Trey McIntyre.

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