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Onstage This Week: Houston Ballet's "Sylvia," World Premieres at Complexions Contemporary Ballet and BalletNext, and More!

Artists of Houston Ballet rehearsing Stanton Welch's Sylvia. Amitava Sarkar, Courtesy Houston Ballet.

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


Houston Ballet's New Full Length Story Ballet, "Sylvia," Has Its World Premiere

This week, Houston Ballet is putting its stamp on an old classic with the premiere of a brand-new story ballet. Artistic director Stanton Welch's Sylvia makes its debut February 21–March 3. Welch includes other narratives from Greek mythology in his retelling of the determined huntress' story, set to Léo Delibes' famous score with designs by Jerome Kaplan and projections by Wendall K. Harrington.

Complexions Contemporary Ballet Celebrates Its 25th Anniversary at The Joyce Theater

Complexions Contemporary Ballet is back at New York City's Joyce Theater February 19-March 3 with three separate programs celebrating the company's 25th anniversary. The season includes the world premiere of company co-founder and choreographer Dwight Rhoden's WOKE set to a remix of music by Kendrick Lamar, Drake, Logic, Diplo and more, as well as the New York premiere of Rhoden's Bach 25 and audience favorites Star Dust and From Then to Now.

Tulsa Ballet Brings Back "The Sleeping Beauty"

February 21-24, Tulsa Ballet brings back a classic: The Sleeping Beauty. Artistic director Marcello Angelini restaged and re-choreographed sections of Marius Petipa's famous ballet; you can hear him talk about the timelessness of the work in the above video.

Aspen Santa Fe Ballet Returns to Its Santa Fe Home

Aspen Santa Fe Ballet is back in its Santa Fe home this week with a one-night-only performance of fan favorites on February 23. The program includes Alexander Ekman's Tuplet, Fernando Melo's Dream Play and Jorma Elo's 1st Flash. Check out a glimpse of Dream Play above.

BalletNext Showcases Three New Ballets by Michele Wiles in NYC

BalletNext artistic director Michele Wiles' presents three new ballets at New York City's New York Live Arts February 19-23 with a new crop of dancers from University of Utah's ballet program (where Wiles is a visiting professor). Wiles will also perform, joined by principal guest artists Amar Ramasar, Maria Kowroski, and others. This performance will mark Ramasar's first performance in the U.S. since being fired from New York City Ballet last fall.

Ballets des Amériques Onstage in Westchester, NY

Westchester, NY-based company Ballets des Amériques continues its new performance series titled Westchester Wednesday Dance at Tarrytown Music Hall on February 20. The company will present three works by its artistic director, Carole Alexis: Flowers and Tears, Boléro and Lentil Soup.

Ballet Careers
Gray Davis with wife, ABT soloist Cassandra Trenary, after his graduation from the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy. Courtesy Trenary.

When Gray Davis retired from American Ballet Theatre in July of 2018, he moved home to South Carolina, unsure of what would come next. Last month, just over a year later, Davis graduated from the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy. Today, he's working as a deputy for the Abbeville County Sheriff's Office.

Though Davis danced in ABT's corps for 11 years and is married to soloist Cassandra Trenary, to many he's best known for saving the life of a man who was pushed onto the subway tracks in New York City in 2017. The heroic effort earned him the New York State Liberty Medal, the highest civilian honor bestowed by a member of the New York State Senate. We caught up with Davis to hear about how the split second decision he made in the subway affected the course of his life, what it's been like starting a second career and what he sees as the similarities between ballet and law enforcement.

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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 Stars
Megan Amanda Ehrlich, Courtesy LEAP Program

Claire Sheridan wanted to change the status quo. Leading up to the 1990s, she recalls, "there was a 'shut up and dance' mind-set," and as the founder of the dance program at St. Mary's College of California and a longtime teacher in professional companies, she had seen too many dancers retire with no plan for a successful career transition. "At that time, if you thought about education and the future," she says, "you were not a committed dancer. I wanted to fight that."

With the support of St. Mary's, Sheridan developed the Liberal Education for Arts Professionals program, or LEAP, an innovative liberal-arts bachelor's degree program designed especially for professional dancers. She first presented her idea to executives at San Francisco Ballet. "Kudos to that company, because they said, 'This is great,'" she says. "Eleven of the first 18 dancers who started in August 1999 were from SFB."

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Ballet Training
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I'm a college freshman, and my dance program isn't challenging enough. We only have ballet three times a week and a few hours of modern, and my classmates aren't as dedicated as I am. There's a small dance company nearby, where I was hoping to take extra classes, but I don't have a car. I want to transfer, but I feel like I won't be in good enough shape for auditions. —Tara

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