Ballet's Next Generation

This weekend I was lucky enough to catch a performance of Protégés III: The International Ballet Academy Festival. This was the third time The Kennedy Center invited students from distant corners of the world to show off their elite training in our nation's capital.

The program started with a charming piece from the Royal Danish Ballet School, which strung together excerpts of Bournonville's most famous ballets with little vignettes of the dancers whispering, shyly flirting and giving each other soft kisses. I don't think I've ever seen a piece that felt so perfectly suited to the young teenagers who were dancing it. What struck me most though, was how elegant the male dancers were. Although the girls looked a bit stiff, the guys had a really nice sense of refined épaulement, and moved with an easy upper body carriage supported by strong technique in their lower bodies.

Next came Tokyo's New National Theatre Ballet School—and they blew me away. I'd never heard much about this school (the ballet program has only been around since 2001), but the dancers looked like seasoned pros. Their director is Asami Maki, who trained at Les Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo and the School of American Ballet, and she's turning out some great talent. The students were completely in sync with one another, and had a great sense of musicality. The girls showed off fluid upper bodies, and the boys dazzled with powerful jumps.

Julio Bocca Foundation School of the Arts' mission places a strong emphasis on exchange between art forms, which was clear with their mix of short pieces. The dancers started out barefoot, accompanied by two singers, and ended in pointe shoes. Although these dancers were not as advanced as the others on the program, they gave a heartfelt performance. 

The big finale was reserved for the Bolshoi Ballet Academy, which performed Leonid Lavrovsky's Classical Symphony to Prokofiev. These students, led by the sublime Joy Ann Womack (from Texas) were simply jaw dropping. They brought so much energy to the stage, backed up by nearly impeccable technique. I can't wait to see how they grow once they become professional.

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How to Support the Black Dance Community, Beyond Social Media

The dance community's response to the death of George Floyd was immediate and sweeping on social media. Dance artists, including Desmond Richardson and Martha Nichols, used their social platforms to make meaningful statements about racial inequality. Theresa Ruth Howard's leadership spurred ballet companies including Dance Theatre of Harlem, American Ballet Theatre, and New York City Ballet to pledge #BalletRelevesForBlackLives. Among the most vocal supporters have been dance students, who continue to share the faces and gut-wrenching last words of Black men and women who have died in police custody on their Instagram feeds and Stories.

The work we're doing on social media as a community is important and necessary—and we should keep at it. But now, that momentum must also carry us into taking action. Because to be a true ally, action is required.

A responsible ally amplifies Black voices­­. They choose to listen rather than speak. And they willingly throw their support, and, if they can, their dollars, behind Black dancers and Black dance organizations. Here are some ways you can do your part.

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Class of 2020, These Ballet Stars Have a Heartfelt Video Message Just for You

Congratulations to this year's graduating seniors!

You might not have had the chance to take that long planned-for final bow, but we're here to cheer you on and celebrate all that you've accomplished. And we've brought together stars from across the ballet world to help us; check out the video to hear their best wishes for your futures.

To further fête all of the ballet grads out there, we're also giving away 100 free subscriptions to Pointe... plus, one lucky bunhead will receive a personalized message from one of ballet's biggest stars. Click here to enter!

Tulsa Ballet in Ma Cong's Tchaikovsky: The Man Behind the Music. Kate Luber Photography, Courtesy Tulsa Ballet.

Updated: Mark Your Calendars for These Online Ballet Performances

Updated on 5/27/2020

Since COVID-19 has forced ballet companies around the world to cancel performances—and even the remainder of their seasons—many are keeping their audiences engaged by streaming or posting pre-recorded performances onto their websites or social media channels. To help keep you inspired during these challenging times, we've put together a list of upcoming streaming events and digital performances.

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