Trending

In the Studio with Boston Ballet II: Follow These Motivated Stars of Tomorrow Through a Day in the Life

Boston Ballet II associate director Peter Stark takes a picture of the group after class. Stark often observes company class when artistic director Mikko Nissinen is teaching. "He'll take notes and give us feedback on what the artistic staff is looking for," says BBII dancer Caroline Buckheit. Photo by Liza Voll.

For the members of Boston Ballet II, Thursday mornings are a special treat. At 9 am, well before the company arrives, they begin their own class with BBII associate director Peter Stark. It's their chance to talk through corrections and dig into the details of their technique—a welcome break from the fast-paced company environment they're just getting used to. "I really enjoy our Thursday class," says Catherine Livingston, 19, who joined BBII last fall. "It's just the 10 of us, and Peter coaches us all individually."


BBII serves as a one- to two-year transitional period for young dancers just out of ballet school. "Many people think it's about going onstage, but it's more than that," says Stark. "It's learning the corporate culture, learning how to behave in company class and rehearsal, learning how to manage your schedule—all the elements of becoming a professional at a young age." Since artistic director Mikko Nissinen's time is split between numerous company duties, Stark's job is to help the BBII dancers adjust: "They have an advocate on their side, trying to help them."

Most mornings BBII takes class with Boston Ballet, dancing next to stars like Misa Kuranaga and Lia Cirio. As a student, Livingston was used to getting a lot of corrections. "Company life is a little different, because they expect you to be in charge of yourself," she says. "Sometimes company members will come up and give us pointers, which is really awesome." The rest of the day is spent in company rehearsals, supplementing the corps and understudying, and in rehearsals for BBII's own performances. "By doing their own shows, they can practice duets and solos," says Stark, "things that push them and feed their artistic souls."

Juggling company and BBII duties can be both exhilarating and exhausting. Pointe recently went behind the scenes with this hard-working troupe to see what a typical day is like for them.

"As long as you know what you're doing and you can jump in when they need you to, people here will respect you." —Thomas Davidoff

Photo by Liza Voll.

The Conversation
Site Network
James Whiteside (Jayme Thornton for Dance Magazine)

Say you're perpetually impeccable designer Thom Browne. Say you're planning your Spring 2020 Paris menswear show along a "Versailles country club" theme. Say you want a world-class danseur to open the show with some kind of appropriately fabulous choreography.

Who do you call? James Whiteside, of course. On Saturday, the American Ballet Theatre principal—wearing pointe shoes and a glorious pinstriped tutu—kicked off Browne's presentation at the École des Beaux-Arts with a 15-minute, show-stealing solo. Whiteside choreographed the piece himself, with the help of detailed notes from the designer.

Keep reading... Show less
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?

Keep reading... Show less
Ballet Careers
Garry Corpuz and Wang Qingxin in an ad campaign for Hong Kong Ballet. Design Army and Dean Alexander, Courtesy HKB.

"Opportunities always come when you least expect them," says Septime Webre. In 2016, he'd left The Washington Ballet, after 17 years as artistic director, to focus on his choreography career. Halfway around the world in East Asia, Hong Kong Ballet was hiring a new director for its following season, and Webre's agent convinced him to submit his resumé. "I ended up on a call with leadership and the energy between us was great," says Webre.

Keep reading... Show less
Irina Kolpakova in the studio with Katherine Williams. Photo by Quinn Wharton for Pointe.

Being coached by a treasure like former Kirov prima Irina Kolpakova is an experience most dancers only dream of. But company members at American Ballet Theatre have been the lucky beneficiaries of her wisdom since 1990. Thanks to Instagram, where pros like Gillian Murphy and James Whiteside share snippets of their sessions with Kolpakova, any ballet lover can be a fly on the wall during rehearsals with the famed ballet mistress.

Keep reading... Show less