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Onstage This Week: ABT Makes Its Vail Dance Fest Debut, Companies Celebrate National Dance Day, and More!

Catch Royal Winnipeg Ballet for free this week at Ballet in the Park. Photo by Daniel Crump, Courtesy RWB.

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


American Ballet Theatre Makes Its Vail Debut

The Vail Dance Festival is best known for bringing together diverse performers to create outside-of-the-box collaborations. This summer, the festival's 30th anniversary, American Ballet Theatre gets added to that mix. July 28–29, 15 company members will dance the festival premieres of Alexei Ratmansky's Souvenir d'un lieu cher and Serenade after Plato's Symposium, as well as Jerome Robbins' Other Dances with New York City Ballet principal Tiler Peck. ABT will also collaborate with tap choreographer Michelle Dorrance. She's creating a trio of new works for ABT this year, coproduced by Vail, the second of which she'll present at the festival. "It always broadens a dancer's perspective to cross-pollinate with their peers," says ABT artistic director Kevin McKenzie. "It gives them an opportunity for independent thinking and self-evaluation." For Vail artistic director Damian Woetzel, incorporating the company into the festival reminds him of the magical sense of camaraderie that he felt as an NYCB principal when running into ABT dancers after their respective Lincoln Center performances. "Vail builds on that," says Woetzel. "We bring dancers together to create our own special community." —Chava Lansky


National Dance Day is Back!

We know that for most of you every day feels like National Dance Day, but this Saturday it's made official. We've pulled together a few events happening at ballet companies across the country, but you can find the full list of happenings here.

Ballet Austin — Ballet Austin is hosting 12 free classes of various styles throughout the day.

Ballet Memphis— Learn the official National Dance Day dance, to be performed flash-mob style at the Memphis Zoo.

Nashville Ballet — The ballet company is offering free adult, musical theater and opportunities to learn new choreography.

Orlando Ballet — Classes for all ages at both Orlando Ballet campuses will be free.

Can't wait till Saturday? Check out The Kennedy Center's take on this year's official National Dance Day choreography from the Dizzy Feet Foundation, choreographed by Mandy Moore.


LINES Ballet Hits SummerStage NYC for Its 35th Anniversary

On July 25, Alonzo King LINES Ballet returns to the Rumsey Playfield SummerStage in New York City's Central Park. for a one night only performance in honor of its 35th anniversary. This program features two ballets choreographed by King: Sand, with music by jazz artists Jason Moran and Charles Lloyd, and Biophony, which draws inspiration from the Earth's many types of ecosystems.


Four Ballet Premieres from the National Choreographers Initiative

On July 28, the National Choreographers Initiative, an organization committed to supporting the development of choreography, will present four world premieres at the Irvine Barclay Theatre in Irvine, CA. Each summer, NCI chooses four choreographers and provides them with the resources that they need to create, including studio space and dancers, over the course of three weeks. This year's group features Kevin Jenkins, David Justin, Ilya Kozadayev and Mariana Oliveira. The choreographers had the chance to work with 16 dancers hailing from a range of companies across the nation including Ballet Austin, Kansas City Ballet and Nevada Ballet Theatre. See a full list here, and catch a glimpse of Jenkins' creative process below.


Royal Winnipeg Ballet Gives a Free Outdoor Performance

If you happen to find yourself in Winnipeg, Canada July 25-27 you can catch a sneak preview of Royal Winnipeg Ballet's upcoming production of The Wizard of Oz for free in Assinboine Park's Lyric Theatre. While choreographer Septime Webre's full adaptation of the classic story won't have its Canadian premiere until May 2019, Winnipeg audiences can whet their appetites with excerpts this week. The full-length narrative, a joint production with Kansas City Ballet and Colorado Ballet, and will have its world premiere this October in (appropriately) Kansas City, MO. A summer tradition at RWB since the 1970s, Ballet in the Park also includes food trucks and children's activities such as face-painting and a pointe shoe toss. Check out RWB's trailer below to see what else is on the horizon for the 2018-2019 season.

The Conversation
Ballet Stars
Angela Sterling, Courtesy PNB

Your teacher at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, Marcia Dale Weary, recently passed away. What impact did she have on you?

I feel deeply indebted to her. She shaped my life's course, and I know that were it not for her, I would not be living out my dream today. She led by example through her remarkable commitment to her work, as well as her genuine kindness and generosity.

You were a trainee with San Francisco Ballet. What was that experience like?

It was an exposure to different schools of thought. We were mostly in the full-lengths, and watching run-throughs of Sleeping Beauty and Don Quixote was revolutionary for me. But I was young and far away from home. That transition was hard. My body started changing. It wanted to be fleshy. Biology is cruel in that way. I desperately wanted to fit in, but it wasn't meant to be.

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The Royal Ballet's Vadim Muntagirov and Marianela Nuñez in La Bayadère. Photo by Bill Cooper, Courtesy ROH.

Do you ever wish you could teleport to London and casually stroll into The Royal Opera House to see some of the world's best-loved ballets? Well, we have a solution for you: The Royal Ballet's 2018-19 cinema season.

Whether live or recorded, the seven ballet programs listed below, streaming now through next October, will deliver all of the magic that The Royal Ballet has to offer straight to your local movie theater. Can you smell the popcorn already?

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Site Network
Left: Misa Kuranaga in The Veritginous Thrill of Exactitude. Gene Schiavone, Courtesy Boston Ballet. Right: Sasha Mukhamedov in Apollo. Altin Kaftira, Courtesy Dutch National Ballet.

San Francisco Ballet just announced some major news: longtime Boston Ballet star Misa Kuranaga will be joining the company as a principal dancer for the 2019-20 season, while Dutch National Ballet principal Sasha Mukhamedov has been hired as a soloist. They join a slew of newly promoted SFB principals and soloists, announced earlier this year.

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Ballet Stars
Xiao Nan Yu in company class. Aaron Vincent, Courtesy National Ballet of Canada.

On June 22, National Ballet of Canada principal Xiao Nan Yu will retire from the stage after 22 years with the company. Originally from Dalian, China, Yu studied at the Shen Yang School of Dance and the Beijing Dance Academy before coming to Canada's National Ballet School at age 17. She joined the National Ballet of Canada less than two years later, and was promoted to principal in 2001.

"She is a supreme dance actress with an innate ability to bring the audience into her world," says NBoC artistic director Karen Kain. "Nan has always brought such a calm confidence into the studio and has been a role model for so many dancers I will miss her generosity both inside the studio and out." We spoke with Yu as she prepared for her final week of performances. She opened up about her initial culture shock upon moving to Toronto, her thoughts on artistry and why she chose Hanna Glawari in The Merry Widow as her final role.

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