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Quinn Wharton

This is Pointe's April/May 2019 Cover Story. You can subscribe to the magazine here, or click here to purchase this issue.

The third movement of Balanchine's Symphony in C is designed to wow, but it's not often a dancer manages to bring unadulterated joy to its brutally difficult steps. Yet when The Royal Ballet's Marcelino Sambé ran onto the stage last fall, the bright, cheerful buoyancy of his first grand jeté drew a gasp from the British gentleman sitting behind me in the Royal Opera House's chic Grand Tier.

The stage isn't the only place where Sambé's infectious energy stands out. Time and again, company employees crack a smile at the mention of his name; a stage door attendant perks up when calling him over and chats animatedly about his performances. "He basically cheers up the whole Royal Ballet," says principal Francesca Hayward, a frequent partner of Sambé's. "He's one of those: Sunshine comes with him," Kevin O'Hare, the director of The Royal Ballet, concurs. "He's just a great, positive influence in the room and in the building."

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Ballet Stars
Svetlana Zakharova in Carmen Suite, via YouTube

If you're making your weekend plans, you may want to clear your calendar for Sunday and check your local movie listings. On May 19, Fathom Events, in partnership with Pathé Live and By Experience, is broadcasting the Bolshoi Ballet's performance of Carmen Suite and Petrushka throughout cinemas nationwide. The program will be captured live the same day from Moscow, and feature some of the Bolshoi's biggest stars.

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Ballet Stars
Valery Panov and Natalia Makarova in The Sleeping Beauty, via YouTube.

The Soviet Union redefined standards in classical ballet in the 1960s, producing opulent story ballets and dancers with refined, yet daring technique. Dancers like Natalia Makarova and Valery Panov, who were among the leading performers with the Kirov Ballet (now the Mariinsky) at that time, were at the pinnacle of the art form. In this 1964 film of the Kirov's The Sleeping Beauty, Makarova and Panov dance together as Princess Florine and the Bluebird. Despite the nostalgic trappings of the soundstage dance film, their strength and intention in this pas de deux make for a timeless performance.

Natalia Makarova as Princess Florine and Valery Panov as the Bluebird ('Sleeping Beauty' 1964) www.youtube.com

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Unity Phelan in John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum. Photo by Niko Tavernise, Courtesy FRANK PR

"New York City Ballet star appears in a Keanu Reeves action movie" is not a sentence we ever thought we'd write. But moviegoers seeing John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum will be treated to two scenes featuring soloist Unity Phelan dancing choreography by colleague Tiler Peck. The guns-blazing popcorn flick cast Phelan as a ballerina who also happens to be training to become an elite assassin. Opens in theaters May 17.

Amitava Sarkar, Courtesy Houston Ballet

Like so many little girls, I grew up watching the "four little swans" dance. It always pops up on your YouTube feed if you're a dancer, so I saw lots of different versions. I figured I fit the type—I'm short and like to do petit allégro—so to do it was definitely on my wish list as a professional.

Because everyone's coordination is different, I knew getting four girls to dance in such perfect unison would take a lot of rehearsal. Our ballet mistress, Louise Lester, had us practice the dance in chunks: First we'd walk through each section to synchronize our head movements and get our timing perfect, and then we'd run each part multiple times for stamina. We'd have hour-long rehearsals for a one-minute dance!

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Via YouTube

What does Mikhail Baryshnikov have to say to dancers starting their careers today? On Friday, he gave the keynote speech during the graduation ceremony for the inaugural class of the USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance.

The heart of his message: Be generous.

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Ballet Stars
Ben Malone

Whether she's working in the studio with Richmond Ballet or on her fashion blog, Felix & Flora, Lauren Archer's sartorial motto is "Fearless, feminine fashion." Archer's interest in fashion began when she was a little girl, and it took off two years ago when she began sharing her day-to-day looks on Instagram (@felixandflora). "I started my blog for fun, but I've been really passionate about creating new looks, finding new inspiration and reaching a new demographic," Archer says. "I want to encourage people to wear what they like and be less conscious of what others might think—at the end of the day, it's just an outfit."

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Ballet Stars
Newly promoted Pennsylvania Ballet principal Zecheng Liang in Balanchine's Apollo. Arian Molina Soca, courtesy PAB.

Pennsylvania Ballet announced next season's roster yesterday, and it includes 20—yes, 20—promotions. How, you ask? Artistic director Angel Corella has updated the ranking system, adding demi-soloist and first soloist levels to the mix. PAB now joins a handful of other U.S. companies, including Miami City Ballet, Houston Ballet, Ballet West and Tulsa Ballet, that have adopted a more European-style, multi-tiered ranking system. So while four PAB apprentices have been promoted to the corps, an abundance of corps and soloist dancers have also risen up a notch (or two).

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Ballet Stars
Amy Herchenroether in Giselle with Saint Louis Ballet. Kelly Pratt, courtesy Saint Louis Ballet.

It's that time of year again: recital season! Memories will be made, including some hilarious ones. (Does it even count as a recital if something funny doesn't happen?) We asked four pros to share their most humorous recital memories from their student days, from costume malfunctions to onstage bloopers.

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Ballet Stars
ABT Studio Company dancer Chloe Misseldine and her mom, former soloist Yan Chen. Rosalie O'Connor.

When former American Ballet Theatre principal Cheryl Yeager watches her daughter—Hannah Marshall, a current ABT corps member—take the stage, she gets a bit emotional.

"I always think, 'I wanted to move just like you when I was dancing!' because we are total opposites," Yeager says. "She is tall and moves with a legato quality, while I was short and moved fast and staccato."

Marshall isn't the only ABT dancer who inherited ballet genes from her mother. Former ABT soloist Carla Stallings Lippert's daughter Carolyn Lippert is also a current member of the corps, and former soloist Yan Chen's 17-year-old daughter, Chloe Misseldine, is a rising ABT Studio Company star. So for Mother's Day, we spoke with each pair about what it's been like sharing the same career path.

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Ballet Training
Nayara Lopez in The Nutcracker's snow scene. Alexander Iziliaev, Courtesy Pennsylvania Ballet.

Many workouts, one goal: When Nayara Lopes is asked what she does to cross-train, there's no short answer. Some days she swims laps; other days she takes yoga. And then there are her elliptical sessions, strength-training with light weights and Pilates classes. Why does she work so hard outside of the studio? "Because I want to feel good onstage," she says. "There's nothing better than going out there and having fun and knowing you're gonna get through it." Thanks to her cardio routine, stamina isn't an issue. "When I'm onstage, I feel ready for anything."

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News
Jennifer Garner. Courtesy Conversations on Dance.

Ever since 2017, Jennifer Garner has been proving herself as ballet's biggest fangirl. From her incredible cameo backstage at American Ballet Theatre's Nutcracker to her insistence that she is the third Cindy, we've been here for all of it. This week, we finally got to the bottom of Garner's ballet obsession, thanks to the podcast Conversations on Dance.

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