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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.

Summer Intensive Survival
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There's a sweet spot toward the end of August—after summer intensives have wrapped up and before it's time to head back to school or work—where the days are long, lazy and begging to be spent neck-deep in a pile of good books. Whether you're looking for inspiration for the upcoming season or trying to brush up on your dance history, you can never go wrong with an excellent book on ballet. We've gathered eight titles (all available at common booksellers like Amazon and Barnes and Noble) guaranteed to give you a deeper understanding of the art form, to add to your end-of-summer reading list.

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James Yoichi Moore and Noelani Pantastico warm up onstage. Angela Sterling, Courtesy SDC.

On a sunny July weekend, hundreds of Seattle-area dance fans converged on tiny Vashon Island, a bucolic enclave in Puget Sound about 20 miles from the city. They made the ferry trek to attend the debut performance of the fledgling Seattle Dance Collective.

SDC is not a run-of-the-mill contemporary dance company; it's the brainchild of two of Pacific Northwest Ballet's most respected principal dancers: James Yoichi Moore and Noelani Pantastico. The duo wanted to create a nimble organization to feature dancers and choreographers they felt needed more exposure in the Pacific Northwest.

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Roman Mejia in Robbins' Dances at a Gathering. Erin Baiano, Courtesy NYCB.

The Princess Grace Foundation has just announced its 2019 class, and we're thrilled that two ballet dancers—New York City Ballet's Roman Mejia and BalletX's Stanley Glover—are included among the list of über-talented actors, filmmakers, playwrights, dancers and choreographers.

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The Royal Ballet's Alexander Campbell and Yasmine Naghdi in Ashton's The Two Pigeons. Tristram Kenton, Courtesy ROH.

While most ballet casts are 100 percent human, it's not unheard of for live animals to appear onstage, providing everything from stage dressing to supporting roles. Michael Messerer's production of Don Quixote features a horse and a donkey; American Ballet Theatre's Giselle calls for two Russian wolfhounds; and Sir Frederick Ashton's La Fille Mal Gardee requires a white Shetland pony. Another Ashton masterpiece, The Two Pigeons, is well known for its animal actors. But though ballet is a highly disciplined, carefully choreographed art form, some performers are naturally more prone to flights of fancy—because they're birds.

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