News

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.

Ballet Careers
Lenai Alexis Wilkerson. Christopher Duggan, Courtesy Michelle Tabnick Public Relations.

This is one of a series of stories on recent graduates' on-campus experiences—and the connections they made that jump-started their dance careers. Lenai Alexis Wilkerson graduated from University of Southern California with a BFA in dance (dance performance concentration) and a political science minor in 2019.

As Lenai Alexis Wilkerson looked at colleges, she wanted a school that would prepare her for two totally different professions: dancing and law. "I knew, pretty much when I was 16, that I wanted to go to law school," she says. "So I wanted the opportunity to have a dual college experience, where I could have a conservatory training style within a university and I could focus equally on my academics." When she auditioned for the inaugural class of University of Southern California's Glorya Kaufman School of Dance, she knew it was the right fit.

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Sponsored by Ballet Arizona
Tzu Chia Huang, Courtesy Ballet Arizona

These days, ballet dancers are asked to do more than they ever have—whether that's tackling versatile rep, taking on intense cross-training regimens or managing everything from their Instagram pages to their summer layoff gigs.

Without proper training, these demands can take a toll on both the mind and the body. But students can start preparing for them early—with the right summer intensive program.

The School of Ballet Arizona's summer intensive takes a well-rounded approach to training—not just focusing on technique and facility but nurturing overall dancer growth. "You cannot make a dancer just by screaming at them like they used to," says master ballet teacher Roberto Muñoz, who guests at the program every summer. "You have to take care of the person as well."

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News
Nicolas Pelletier in Carmina Burana. Francisco Estevez, Courtesy Colorado Ballet.

Last week, Colorado Ballet interrupted Nutcracker rehearsals for an exciting announcement: Four dancers were being promoted. Though all made the jump from the company's corps de ballet, Nicolas Pelletier ascended directly to the rank of soloist, while Sean Omandam, Emily Speed and Melissa Zoebisch were promoted to demi-soloist. This news comes hot on the heels of last August's promotion of Francisco Estevez to principal.

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Courtesy School of Pennsylvania Ballet

While many of us are deep in Nutcracker duties, The School of Pennsylvania Ballet director James Payne has been looking further ahead, finalizing preparations for the school's summer intensive programs. In January, he and his staff will embark on a 24-city audition tour to scour the country for the best young dancers, deciding whether or not to offer them a spot—maybe even a scholarship—in the school's rigorous 5-week intensive focused on high-caliber ballet instruction. Though he'll be evaluating aspirants, he urges that as a student, you should be equally selective in choosing programs that could galvanize your training—and possibly even your career.

We got Payne's advice on strategizing your summer intensive plan before the audition cycle kicks in:

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