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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.

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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