Dancers of The Washington Ballet. Photo by Dean Alexander, Courtesy TWB.

Onstage This Week: The Washington Ballet Welcomes Guest Stars, World Premieres in Sacramento and Phoenix, and More!

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


The Washington Ballet Brings in Guest Stars Including Marcelo Gomes and Stella Abrera

The Washington Ballet's 2018/19 season opens September 26-30 at the Kennedy Center with a mixed bill titled TWB Welcomes, designed to show a range of classical ballet from the last century. TWB presents two programs: The first features George Balanchine's Serenade and Alexei Ratmansky's Bolero, and the second includes Annabelle Lopez Ochoa's Sombrerisimo and Michel Fokine's Les Sylphides. Both include three iconic pas de deux: Marius Petipa's Black Swan, Ratmansky's Seven Sonatas and Balanchine's Tarantella. For this run, artistic director Julie Kent invited four guest artists to join the company: Former American Ballet Theatre principal Marcelo Gomes, ABT principal Stella Abrera, Ballet Manila principal Katherine Barkman and Houston Ballet principal Connor Walsh. Above, check out a clip of Barkman preparing for her Tarantella debut.

Sacramento Ballet's Season Opener Includes World Premiere by Penny Saunders

Sacramento Ballet opens its first season under the leadership of new artistic director Amy Seiwert September 27-30 at The Sofia Tsakopoulos Center for the Arts. Titled Telling Stories, the program includes former director Ron Cunningham's Incident at Blackbriar, Adam Hougland's Cigarettes, Seiwert's Instructions and a world premiere by Penny Saunders to the music of Nick Drake. Above, Saunders explains how she's using Drake's melancholy and evocative music to do just what the program's title suggests: Tell stories.

Ballet Arizona Presents World Premiere by Company Dancer Nayon Iovino 

Ballet Arizona's New Moves program asks audiences to "expect the unexpected." Running September 27-30 at the Orpheum Theatre in Phoenix, the program includes artistic director Ib Andersen's Rio, the Arizona premiere of Justin Peck's In Creases and a world premiere by Ballet Arizona's Nayon Iovino's Inherent. Iovino was just accepted into the New York Choreographic Institute for spring of 2019; see excerpts from his new ballet above.

The Queen of the Nile Comes to Life in Texas

Texas Ballet Theater artistic director Ben Stevenson's full-length ballet Cleopatra runs September 28-30 at the Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth. With music by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov performed live by the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, this tale of love and trickery is sure to enthrall audiences. Leading up to the performance, TBT is releasing a series of fun facts about Cleopatra on Instagram (did you know she spoke nine languages?)

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xmb photography, Courtesy The Washington Ballet

The Washington Ballet's Sarah Steele on Her At-Home Workouts

Ballet at home: Since she's not preparing for any immediate performances, Steele takes ballet barre three to four times a week. "I'm working in more of a maintenance mode," she says, prioritizing her ankles and the intrinsic muscles in her feet. "If you don't work those muscles, they disappear really quickly. I've been focusing on a baseline level of ballet muscle memory."

What she's always working on: Strengthening her glute-hamstring connection (the "under-butt" area), which provides stability for actions like repetitive relevés and power for jumps. Bridges are her go-to move for conditioning those muscles. "Those 'basic food group'–type exercises are some of the best ones," she says.

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Hiding Injuries: Why Downplaying Pain Can Lead to Bigger Problems Down the Road

Sabrina Landa was thrilled to be offered a traineeship with Pennsylvania Ballet. "As a trainee, everything felt like a chance to prove myself as a professional," she says. Her training hours increased and she was dancing more than she ever had before. When Landa began experiencing pain in her metatarsals partway through the 2018 Nutcracker season, she notified the staff. "But in fear of losing my shows, I downplayed the severity of it," Landa says.

She notes that no one pushed her to keep dancing but herself. "I was 18 and was aiming to receive a contract by the end of the year," she says. "I felt so much anxiety over missing an opportunity that I was afraid to be honest about my pain." Pennsylvania Ballet's artistic staff were understanding and supportive, but Landa minimized her injury for the next few months, wanting to push through until the season ended and contracts were offered. But after months of pain and an onset of extreme weakness in her foot, Landa was diagnosed with two stress fractures in her second and third metatarsals. She spent the next three months on crutches and six months off dancing to allow for the fractures' delayed healing.

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Skjalg Bøhmer Vold, Courtesy Merritt Moore

How Quantum Physicist Ballerina Merritt Moore Learned to Dance With a Robot (Plus, Her Newest Film)

When the world went into lockdown last March, most dancers despaired. But not Merritt Moore. The Los Angeles native, who lives in London and has danced with Norwegian National Ballet, English National Ballet and Boston Ballet, holds a PhD in atomic and laser physics from the University of Oxford. A few weeks into the coronavirus pandemic, she came up with a solution for having to train and work alone: robots.

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