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Onstage This Week: PBT's "Great Gatsby," Nashville Ballet's  "Attitude: Lucy Negro Redux," 7 World Premieres at Grand Rapids Ballet, and More!

Grand Rapids Ballet in rehearsal. Jade Butler, Courtesy GRB.

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


Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre Dives Into the Roaring '20s With the World Premiere of "The Great Gatsby" 

February 8–17, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre presents choreographer Jorden Morris' The Great Gatsby. Based closely on F. Scott Fitzgerald's famous novel, this new ballet takes viewers into the Roaring '20s with an original score by film composer Carl Davis. The ballet shows the glitz of the era with glamorous costumes designed by PBT costumer Janet Marie Groom. You can catch a glimpse into the costume shop here.

Nashville Ballet's "Attitude: Lucy Negro Redux" Has Its World Premiere


February 8–10, Nashville Ballet presents Attitude: Lucy Negro Redux, choreographed by artistic director Paul Vasterling and based on Caroline Randall Williams' 2015 book of poetry, Lucy Negro, Redux. In it, Williams investigates the theory that the mysterious Dark Lady to whom William Shakespeare dedicated many of his sonnets was actually a black historical figure known as Lucy Negro. Featuring an original score by Rhiannon Giddens, with spoken word performed live by Williams, Vasterling's ballet explores Shakespeare's romantic life from the point of view of the Dark Lady (danced by Kayla Rowser) while focusing on themes of love, otherness and equality.

Grand Rapids Ballet Presents Seven World Premieres in One Program

Grand Rapids Ballet's contemporary dance series returns February 8-10 with MOVEMEDIA: Handmade, featuring seven world premieres. The first five pieces are choreographed by company dancers Cassidy Isaacson, Nigel Tau, Nicholas Bradley Gray, Isaac Aoki and Yuka Oba. Gray's work, Divine Light, is dedicated to Raffaella Stroik, the Saint Louis Ballet dancer who mysteriously drowned in a Missouri lake last fall. The final two works on the program are by GRB choreographer in residence Penny Saunders and Joffrey Ballet dancer and choreographer Nicolas Blanc.

BalletX Returns to Vail With a Nicolo Fonte World Premiere

On February 9, Philadelphia-based company BalletX makes its way to Vail, Colorado as part of the Vilar Performing Arts Center's Winter Dance Series in collaboration with the Vail Dance Festival. BalletX will present the world premiere of Nicolo Fonte's Steep Drop, Euphoric in advance of its March 6 Philadelphia premiere. A regular at the Vail Dance Festival, BalletX will be back again this summer from July 26-August 10.

Ballet Idaho's Winter Repertoire Program Includes a World Premiere by Danielle Rowe

Ballet Idaho's winter repertoire program, titled (re)Define, explores contemporary and classical ballet to ask the question: How do you define dance? The program, running February 8-9, features a diverse list of works including George Balanchine's Allegro Brillante, Penny Saunders' Berceuse, Alejandro Cerrudo's Lickety-Split, the U.S. premiere of Craig Davidson's Ambiguous Content and Dreamland, a world premiere by Danielle Rowe.

Ballet West Reprises "Swan Lake" and Bids Farewell to Principal Christopher Ruud

Ballet West brings back a classic February 8-23: artistic director Adam Sklute's Swan Lake. The final performance on February 23 will feature principal Christopher Ruud as Prince Siegfried, marking his final performance with the company after 21 years. Ruud's history with the company runs deep; both of his parents also danced for Ballet West.

Matthew Bourne's "Cinderella" is Back in Los Angeles

Following the success of 2017's The Red Shoes, Matthew Bourne's New Adventures is back at Los Angeles' Ahmanson Theatre February 5-March 10 with Cinderella. Set to Prokofiev's famed score, Bourne reinterprets the classic fairy tale as a World War II love story. Cinderella originally had its premiere at the Ahmanson Theatre in 1999, and was revived in 2010 and then again in 2017.

Francisco Estevez, Courtesy Colorado Ballet Academy

When you're looking for a ballet program to take you to the next level, there are a lot of factors to consider. While it's tempting to look for the biggest name that will accept you, the savvy dancer knows that successful training has more to do with the attention and opportunities you'll get.

We put together a few of the most important things for dancers to look for in a summer or year-round training program, with the help of the experts at Colorado Ballet Academy:

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Everything Nutcracker
Pennsylvania Ballet demi-soloist Thays Golz as the Sugar Plum Fairy during a stage rehearsal for George Balanchine's Nutcracker. All photography by Arian Molina Soca.

For many professional ballet dancers, Nutcracker means weeks of performances. That usually translates to multiple casts—and important breakout opportunities for those in the junior ranks. On the afternoon of December 13, Pennsylvania Ballet demi-soloist Thays Golz made her debut as the Sugar Plum Fairy along with her Cavalier, corps member Austin Eylar. For the Brazilian-born dancer, who joined PAB in 2018 after two seasons at Houston Ballet, Sugar Plum marks one of her first principal roles.

"I'm really excited," says Golz. PAB artistic director Angel Corella appointed 12 casts of Sugar Plum Fairies over the run's 29 performances. "When I first found out, I was like, 'Pinch me!' I still can't believe it."

We caught up with Golz just before her debut to see how she prepared for her big break.

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Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy US Prix de Ballet

The US Prix de Ballet is taking an unconventional approach to the ballet competition—by putting the competitors' health first. After a successful first year in 2018, the Prix is returning to San Diego, CA this February with an even more comprehensive lineup of wellness workshops and master classes, in addition, of course, to the high-level competition.

Though the talent is top-notch, the environment is friendly, says HARID Conservatory faculty member Victoria Schneider, who serves on US Prix de Ballet's elite panel of judges. "The wellbeing of the dancer is the main focus," says Schneider, who awarded three scholarships to HARID at last year's competition.

US Prix de Ballet was born after its founders traveled to the Japan Grand Prix International Ballet Competition in 2016. "The company ran every aspect of the competition with professionalism, dignity, honor and precision," says founder Neisha Hernandez. "We knew we wanted this level of experience for America."

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