Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet has been director-less for nearly a year. Longtime leader Benoit-Swan Pouffer, who shaped the company into an avant-garde powerhouse with a European accent, stepped down last May. Yesterday, however, it was announced that Alexandra Damiani will become Cedar Lake's new artistic director.

What does that mean? Well, as Cedar Lake's ballet master, Damiani was Pouffer's right-hand woman for many years, and she stayed his course during her time as interim director. So a dramatic change of vision for the company seems unlikely. That's fine by us; Cedar Lake's distinctive repertory fills a hole in the American ballet scene.

Here's the interesting part: Cedar Lake has also named Crystal Pite associate choreographer. Pite has already made two pieces for the company, and its dancers seem especially well-suited to her intricate, imaginative choreography. She'll create at least two more works for Cedar Lake over the next three years. We're excited to see what will come out of her deeper involvement with the company.

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Erin Baiano, Courtesy Vail Dance Festival

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

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Ballet Training
From left: Duncan McIlwaine and Joseph Markey rehearse a new work by Gemma Bond. Rachel Papo.

The members of ABT Studio Company straddle two worlds: student and professional. On a March afternoon, as the dancers rehearse for a work choreographed by ABT dancer Gemma Bond, they appear more the former: Clean academic leotards and tights reveal coltish legs. But as soon as they launch into the piece (which later had its New York City debut at The Joyce Theater), it's evident how close these dancers are to a professional rank. Their movements and expressiveness grow bolder with each entrance. Soon they're sliding to the ground in floorwork and swirling confidently in daring lifts. "This group is particularly brilliant to work with," says Bond. "Each dancer seems to have something interesting in the way that they move, which made the creation process a little more of a collaboration than some of my other works."

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Ballet Training
Karin Ellis-Wentz and Joffrey Ballet Academy of Dance student Elliana Teuscher. Courtesy The Joffrey Ballet.

"Hopping on pointe is a bit of a weird feeling," says Karin Ellis-Wentz, head of pre-professional programs at the Joffrey Academy of Dance in Chicago. But, she adds, it's a skill advanced dancers need "because it's in so many variations." Here, she takes us through the techniques and exercises that help her students master this necessary trick.

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The Royal Ballet's Vadim Muntagirov and Marianela Nuñez in La Bayadère. Photo by Bill Cooper, Courtesy ROH.

Do you ever wish you could teleport to London and casually stroll into The Royal Opera House to see some of the world's best-loved ballets? Well, we have a solution for you: The Royal Ballet's 2018-19 cinema season.

Whether live or recorded, the seven ballet programs listed below, streaming now through next October, will deliver all of the magic that The Royal Ballet has to offer straight to your local movie theater. Can you smell the popcorn already?

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