New York Theatre Ballet in Richard Alston's The Seasons. Richard Termine, Courtesy NYTB.

Onstage This Week: World Premieres at PNB, PBT and DTH Collaborate in Pittsburgh, and More!

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


PNB's Director's Choice Program Features Two World Premieres

Pacific Northwest Ballet's second mixed bill of the season, running March 15-24, features three works handpicked by artistic director Peter Boal. The program includes two world premieres: The Trees The Trees by Robyn Mineko Williams and Bacchus by Matthew Neenan, as well as the company premiere of Justin Peck's In The Countenance of Kings.

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre and Dance Theatre of Harlem Share the Stage

March 15-24, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre and Dance Theatre of Harlem come together in Pittsburgh to present a shared program featuring signature works from both companies, including PBT in Balanchine's "Rubies" and DTH in Darrell Grand Moultrie's Harlem On My Mind. The companies will also dance together in a collaborative staging of Stanton Welch's Orange. Above, see a video on the companies' 2017 collaboration.

New York Theatre Ballet Brings a Mixed Rep Program to Danspace Project

March 14-16 marks New York Theatre Ballet's fifth season at Dancspace Project. NYTB presents three favorite works: Richard Alston's The Seasons, inspired by Indian philosophical thought, Matthew Nash's 1983 The Elements of Style based on the classic guide to writing of the same name, and Merce Cunningham's 1967 Scramble, part of the Cunningham Centennial Celebration.

American Repertory Ballet Brings Back "Coppélia"

New Jersey-based American Repertory Ballet presents Coppélia at the Two River Theater in Red Bank, NJ, March 16-17. ARB is billing this comedic story ballet as a great fit for the whole family.

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The History of Pointe Shoes: The Landmark Moments That Made Ballet's Signature Shoe What It Is Today

Pointe shoes, with their ability to elevate a dancer both literally and metaphorically to a superhuman realm, are the ultimate symbol of a ballerina's ethereality and hard work. For students, receiving a first pair of pointe shoes is a rite of passage. The shoes carry an almost mystical allure: They're an endless source of lore and ritual, with tips, tricks and stories passed down over generations.

The history of pointe shoes reveals how a delicately darned slipper introduced in the 1820s has transformed into a technical tool that offers dancers the utmost freedom onstage today.

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How Coming Back to Ballet After Years Away Has Saved Me During the Pandemic Shutdown

I was 4 years old when I took my first ballet lesson. My mom had dressed me in a pink leotard with matching tights, skirt and slippers. She drove me on a Saturday morning to a ballet academy in downtown Caguas, the town in Puerto Rico where I grew up. I don't remember much from the first lesson, but I do recall the reverence. My teacher Mónica asked the class if someone wanted to volunteer to lead. She was surprised I—the new girl—was the one to raise my hand.

I made up most of the steps, mimicking the ballerinas I had seen on TV and videos. At one point, Mónica stepped in and asked me to lead the class in a bow. I followed her directions and curtseyed in front of the mirror with one leg behind me and a gentle nod. I looked up to find myself in awe of what I had just done.

This was the same feeling I had when, after years away from dance, I finished my first YouTube ballet class at home in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

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La'Toya Princess Jackson, Courtesy MoBBallet

Join Memoirs of Blacks in Ballet for Its 2020 Virtual Symposium

Memoirs of Blacks in Ballet, founded in 2015 by writer and activist Theresa Ruth Howard to preserve and promote the stories of Black ballet dancers, is offering three weekends of interactive education and conversation this month through its 2020 Virtual Symposium. The conference, titled "Education, Communication, Restoration," encourages participants to engage in candid discussions concerning racial inequality and social justice in ballet. While it is a space that centers on Blackness, all are welcome. Held August 14, 15, 21, 22 and 28, MoBBallet's second annual symposium will allow dancers to receive mentorship and openly speak about their personal experiences in a safe and empowering environment.

The first event, For Us By Us (FUBU) Town Hall, is a free community discussion on August 14 from 3:30–4:30 pm EDT via Zoom, followed by a forum for ballet leadership. The town hall format encourages active engagement (participants can raise their hands and respond in real time), but the registration invoice also contains a form for submitting questions in advance. The following discussions, forums and presentations include topics like company life as a Black dancer, developing personal activism, issues of equity and colorism in ballet companies, and more. Tickets range from free to $12 for each 60- to 80-minute event.

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