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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.

Ballet Stars

What do Diana Vishneva, Olga Smirnova, Kristina Shapran and Maria Khoreva all have in common? These women, among the most impressive talents to graduate from the Vaganova Ballet Academy in recent years, all studied under legendary professor Lyudmila Kovaleva. Kovaleva, a former dancer with the Kirov Ballet (now the Mariinsky), is beloved by her students and admired throughout the ballet world for her ability to pull individuality and artistry out of the dancers she trains. Like any great teacher, Kovaleva is remarkably generous with her wealth of knowledge; it seems perfect, then, that she appears as the Fairy of Generosity in this clip from a 1964 film of the Kirov's The Sleeping Beauty.

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Sponsored by BLOCH
Courtesy BLOCH

Today's ballet dancer needs a lot from a pointe shoe. "What I did 20 years ago is not what these dancers are doing now," says New York City Ballet shoe manager Linnette Roe. "They are expected to go harder, longer days. They are expected to go from sneakers, to pointe shoes, to character shoes, to barefoot and back to pointe shoes all in a day."

The team at BLOCH developed their line of Stretch Pointe shoes to address dancer's most common complaints about the fit and performance of their pointe shoes. "It's a scientific take on the pointe shoe," says Roe. Dancers are taking notice and Stretch Pointe shoes are now worn by stars like American Ballet Theatre principal Isabella Boylston, who stars in BLOCH's latest campaign for the shoes.

We dug into the details of Stretch Pointe's most game-changing features:

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Ballet Careers
Ali Cameron, Courtesy Queensland Ballet

An artistic director's position was far from Li Cunxin's mind when the Brisbane-based Queensland Ballet came calling in 2012. Since his retirement from the stage in 1999, the Chinese-Australian dancer had embarked on a highly successful career at the helm of a stockbroking firm. His wife, former dancer and current Queensland ballet mistress Mary McKendry Li, changed his mind, Li remembers. "She said, 'Wouldn't it be nice to give something back to the art form that we both have benefited so much from?' "

Seven years later, Li's contribution has been dramatic. Queensland Ballet, once a struggling choreographer-led company, has become one of Australia's most exciting repertoire ensembles, with Liam Scarlett on board as artistic associate. The budget has more than quadrupled, to over $20 million USD, and Li has launched not one but three major construction projects, with world-class headquarters, a theater and a new academy all in progress.

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News
Gene Schiavone, Courtesy Boston Ballet

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

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