Ballet Careers
Royal New Zealand Ballet dancers Kate Kadow, Katherine Minor and Katherine Precourt rehearse Balanchine's Serenade. Photo by Stephen A'Court, Courtesy RNZB.

Though the Royal New Zealand Ballet has seen a lot of upheaval in recent years, it's now attracting dancers from the U.S. again. Six American women are currently working for the Wellington-based company: Two of them, soloist Katherine Minor and dancer Leonora Voigtlander, joined in 2014, shortly before the end of Ethan Stiefel's tenure as artistic director, while the others were drawn to the vision of current director Patricia Barker. In 2018, the former Pacific Northwest Ballet star and director of Grand Rapids Ballet hired principal Katharine Precourt (previously a first soloist with Houston Ballet), soloist Kate Kadow, and dancers Caroline Wiley and Clare Schellenberg. (Two other American dancers—former Miami City Ballet principal Simone Messmer and 17-year-old Nicole Denney, are currently there through September as guest artists.) We sat down with all six of them to find out what it was like moving across the world and adjusting to life in Kiwi land.

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Viral Videos

Master pointe shoe fitter Josephine Lee of the California-based ThePointeShop chats with Ballet West soloist Chelsea Keefer to hear about how she prepares her pointe shoes. Keefer offers lots of darning tips, and shares all of the unusual ways that she uses rosin.

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News
Dane Shitagi, Courtesy Chronicle Books

Earlier this year, we shared that photographer Dane Shitagi's Ballerina Project—his gorgeous, ongoing collection of dance photos that have dominated our Instagram feeds for years—would be coming to an end. But all is not lost—starting September 17, you can enjoy over 170 of these photographs in Ballerina Project, a stunning new book showcasing Shitagi's work.

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Ballet Stars
Beth Dixson

Ida Praetorius' dance bag is filled with hand-me-downs. The Royal Danish Ballet principal likes her warm-ups to come with a backstory. "It's what I wear all day. I never wear my normal clothes, so I like bringing the people I love with me," she says. Like most of what Praetorius carries, her striped legwarmers were handed down from a colleague in the company. "I borrowed one from a friend while in rehearsal for Christopher Wheeldon's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, and then the next day when I went to give it back to him, he gave me the other one instead," says Praetorius. The frayed blue Repetto overalls that she wore throughout rehearsals for her recent performances at New York City's Joyce Theater are a last-minute addition to her collection. Praetorius snagged them from fellow principal Kizzy Matiakis, her dressing-room mate back in Copenhagen. "I love her wardrobe, and tend to steal from her," says Praetorius. "I just said, 'I'm going to New York!' and I grabbed a bunch of her stuff."

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A young Robbie Fairchild, posing for a tap number. Courtesy Fairchild.

When you hear names like Maria Kochetkova, Sutton Foster and Robbie Fairchild, you immediately picture flashes of them as the fully-formed, phenomenal performers they are today.

But even when they were kids, they had a glimmer of their future star power, giving a glimpse of what was to come. Thankfully for Instagram, we've got the pictures and home videos to prove it.

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Ballet Training
Taylor Ferne-Morris, Courtesy Kurlow

Stephanie Kurlow, a 17-year-old Australian and aspiring professional dancer, says she "loves and thrives through the process of ballet." She demonstrates clean technique and an infectious joy while performing, but what sets her apart from most girls her age is her unyielding determination to follow her dreams and her reverent devotion to her Islamic faith. Her decision to adorn traditional Islamic headwear and modest dance clothing while training and performing has caught the world's attention, and she's now being celebrated by international brands, such as Converse and Gaynor Minden, and designer Tarese Klemens.

Kurlow began taking ballet at 2 years old, but ceased classes at age 9 after her family converted to Islam. Unable to find a dance studio that catered to Muslim girls, she didn't think it possible to continue. In response to seeing her daughter struggle, her mom opened a ballet academy where she could practice freely.

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Ballet Stars
Courtesy Joshua Beamish/MOVETHECOMPANY

Imagine this scenario: Hilarion likes Giselle, but she swipes right on Albrecht, and is smitten. Little does she know, Albrecht is already involved with Bathilde. When Giselle finds out, she livestreams her downward spiral (perhaps her hair even comes down in the midst of her heartbreak?), and enters a realm of women who've similarly been ghosted, or otherwise spurned by online relationships.

This is the basic premise of Joshua Beamish's new @giselle. Created for his troupe Joshua Beamish/MOVETHECOMPANY, the ballet will have its world premiere September 5-7 at the Vancouver Playhouse in British Columbia. For @giselle, which stars American Ballet Theatre soloist Catherine Hurlin and National Ballet of Canada principal Harrison James, Beamish has dug deep into the plot of the original ballet, adapting it for the digital age and showing the pitfalls of changing relationship norms.

We touched base with Beamish to hear all about this new project, from his cleverly modern Wilis to his favorite parts of Adolphe Adam's original score.

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Viral Videos

Natalia Makarova's version of Swan Lake, staged in the 1980s for London Festival Ballet (now the English National Ballet), incorporates a pas de quatre choreographed by Sir Fredrick Ashton into the ballet's opening act. Leanne Benjamin, then just 24 and a principal with the company, dances among the couples in this clip from a 1988 film of the ballet. The burgeoning ballerina shines in her minute-long solo, tackling intricate footwork with intelligence and spirit that foreshadow her formidable, two-decade career as a principal of The Royal Ballet.

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Trending
Giannis Vlamos, Courtesy Kousouni.

Ballerina Maria Kousouni is used to an attentive audience. But when she stepped onstage in Paris this past July, her audience—not to mention the venue and the costumes—were a little unusual. After all, opening a couture fashion show for designer Celia Kritharioti during Paris Fashion Week—with British Vogue's editor in chief in the crowd—isn't exactly a typical gig. "I never imagined that I would be opening a haute couture fashion show in Paris," says KousounI, a principal dancer with the Greek National Opera Ballet. "To enter this world of fashion and beauty, which you usually admire from a distance, is a rare experience in a dancer's career."

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Ballet Stars
Michael Slobodian, Courtesy RAD

This week, 62 of the world's top young dancers trained in the Royal Academy of Dance syllabus gathered in Toronto for the annual Genée International Ballet Competition. Each year, the Genée is hosted by a different country; this was its first turn in Canada since 2008. After a week of intensive coaching and competition, the contestants, ages 15 to 19, performed before a panel of judges including Karen Kain, Mikko Nissinen, Magdalena Popa and Dame Monica Mason DBE last night. Also at the ceremony, Kain was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Award, making her the first Canadian to receive this honor.

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Ballet Stars
Jon Ragel, Courtesy Co-Lab Dance

When American Ballet Theatre corps member Lauren Post started up her summer company, Co-Lab Dance, last year, she was looking for a way for her and her colleagues to keep dancing through ABT's two-month layoff. "The Met season ends and we're all in such great shape," says Post. With the help and encouragement of her mentor, she was able to raise enough money to produce her first season last September.

Those performances were a big success, with sold-out shows and a waiting list for tickets. Now, as Co-Lab Dance prepares to open its second season, Post has expanded on her early momentum with a residency and performance at Kaatsbaan International Arts Center and a bigger theater for the company's New York City shows September 6-7. It's a lot to plan—and was made all the more complicated when Post learned that she was due to have a baby two weeks before opening night. (She gave birth earlier than expected, on August 6, to a beautiful baby girl.)

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