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Onstage This Week: Brooklyn Mack's ABT Debut, "Marie" Returns to Houston Ballet, and More!

Houston Ballet's Melody Mennite in Stanton Welch's Marie. Amitava Sarkar, Courtesy HB.

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


Brooklyn Mack Makes His ABT Debut in "Le Corsaire"

American Ballet Theatre's Metropolitan Opera House season brings it back to the classics this week with Le Corsaire. And to make things more interesting, former Washington Ballet star Brooklyn Mack will be making his ABT debut as a guest artist, dancing the roles of Conrad and Ali. The June 11-15 run also includes exciting debuts by Devon Teuscher, Katherine Williams, Aran Bell, Cassandra Trenary and Blaine Hoven.

NYLA's Women/Create! Festival Brings Together 7 Female Choreographers

New York Live Arts' Women/Create! A Festival of Dance runs June 11-16. The fest's focus is on female contemporary choreographers, though many of the seven dancemakers highlighted (Karole Armitage, Jacqulyn Buglisi, Carolyn Dorfman, Jennifer Muller, Francesca Harper, Helen Simoneau and Katarzyna Skarpetowska) cross over into the ballet realm. Each program features four works, danced primarily by members of the choreographers' companies; Skarpetowska's piece, Akwarium, will be performed by 12 dancers from Richmond Ballet.

Birmingham Royal Ballet's All-Female Triple Bill Features a World Premiere by Didy Velman

Birmingham Royal Ballet's June 12-26 [Un]Leashed program features three works by female choreographers, including a world premiere by Dutch dancemaker Didy Veldman. Veldman's Sense of Time is set to a score by Gabriel Prokofiev, Sergei Prokofiev's grandson. Also on the program are Jessica Lang's Lyric Pieces and Ruth Brill's Peter and the Wolf (to the senior Prokofiev's masterpiece).

"Marie" Returns to Houston Ballet

Houston Ballet's 2018/19 season closes this week with artistic director Stanton Welch's Marie, onstage June 14-23. This dramatic retelling of Marie Antoinette's story is set to a compilation of compositions by Dmitri Shostakovich. This year, principal Melody Mennite returns to the titular role, which was made for her in 2009; above, company dancers discuss the production.

Ballet BC Heads to The Big Apple 

The Vancouver-based Ballet BC is back at New York's Brooklyn Academy of Music June 13-15 as part of its celebration of artistic director Emily Molnar's 10th anniversary with the company. The contemporary ballet troupe presents a triple bill including William Forsythe's Enemy in the Figure, Molnar's To This Day and Crystal Pite's Solo Echo.

NWA Ballet Theatre Presents a Quadruple Bill of Contemporary Works

Bentonville, Arkansas-based NWA Ballet Theatre presents a mixed bill titled Next: Classically Contemporary Dance June 13-14. The program features four original works by artistic director Ryan Jolicoeur-Nye and choreographers Karen Castleman and Gillmer Duran. This chamber-sized company is committed to community engagement and promoting the growing arts scene in Northwest Arkansas.

BalletNext at Kaatsbaan

BalletNext makes its way to Kaatsbaan in Tivoli, New York, for two days of performances June 15-16. BalletNext was founded by former American Ballet Theatre principal Michele Wiles in 2011; these shows mark the close of the company's 2019 spring season, and promise live music.

Francisco Estevez, Courtesy Colorado Ballet Academy

When you're looking for a ballet program to take you to the next level, there are a lot of factors to consider. While it's tempting to look for the biggest name that will accept you, the savvy dancer knows that successful training has more to do with the attention and opportunities you'll get.

We put together a few of the most important things for dancers to look for in a summer or year-round training program, with the help of the experts at Colorado Ballet Academy:

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Everything Nutcracker
Pennsylvania Ballet demi-soloist Thays Golz as the Sugar Plum Fairy during a stage rehearsal for George Balanchine's Nutcracker. All photography by Arian Molina Soca.

For many professional ballet dancers, Nutcracker means weeks of performances. That usually translates to multiple casts—and important breakout opportunities for those in the junior ranks. On the afternoon of December 13, Pennsylvania Ballet demi-soloist Thays Golz made her debut as the Sugar Plum Fairy along with her Cavalier, corps member Austin Eylar. For the Brazilian-born dancer, who joined PAB in 2018 after two seasons at Houston Ballet, Sugar Plum marks one of her first principal roles.

"I'm really excited," says Golz. PAB artistic director Angel Corella appointed 12 casts of Sugar Plum Fairies over the run's 29 performances. "When I first found out, I was like, 'Pinch me!' I still can't believe it."

We caught up with Golz just before her debut to see how she prepared for her big break.

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Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy US Prix de Ballet

The US Prix de Ballet is taking an unconventional approach to the ballet competition—by putting the competitors' health first. After a successful first year in 2018, the Prix is returning to San Diego, CA this February with an even more comprehensive lineup of wellness workshops and master classes, in addition, of course, to the high-level competition.

Though the talent is top-notch, the environment is friendly, says HARID Conservatory faculty member Victoria Schneider, who serves on US Prix de Ballet's elite panel of judges. "The wellbeing of the dancer is the main focus," says Schneider, who awarded three scholarships to HARID at last year's competition.

US Prix de Ballet was born after its founders traveled to the Japan Grand Prix International Ballet Competition in 2016. "The company ran every aspect of the competition with professionalism, dignity, honor and precision," says founder Neisha Hernandez. "We knew we wanted this level of experience for America."

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