Bunheads Gets “On Message”

Most of this week’s Bunheads episode was spent following widow Michelle around town and wondering whether or not Fanny was serious about those Dalai Lama cocktail napkins for Hubbell’s memorial. But the show still managed to squeeze in some favorite ballet themes before the proverbial curtain came down.

 

The most powerful ballet message wasn't revealed until the very end. The ballerinas-in-training finally dance for Fanny and Michelle, and not only are the two brought to tears by the performance, but their estrangement is mended. No, it was not because of Sasha’s never-ending extensions or Boo’s beautiful pencheé (so much for her Episode One arabesque perils!). It was because—as every “bunhead” knows—ballet has the power to speak where words fail. It may seem a little cheesy that a few pirouettes and a port de bras were able to bond a grieving mother and her showgirl daughter-in-law, but Bunheads definitely showed how important self-expression through dance is. Every ballet dancer can relate to that.  

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During one of Charlotte Nash's first few weeks with Houston Ballet II, she was thrown into a run-through of Balanchine's Theme and Variations. "I had never really understudied before and I didn't know what I was doing," she says. "I fell right away and was quickly replaced." For Nash, now a dancer with Festival Ballet Providence, the episode was a tough lesson. "I was mortified, but then I said to myself, 'Okay, I need to figure out how to learn things more quickly.'"

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Courtesy BLOCH

Today's ballet dancer needs a lot from a pointe shoe. "What I did 20 years ago is not what these dancers are doing now," says New York City Ballet shoe manager Linnette Roe. "They are expected to go harder, longer days. They are expected to go from sneakers, to pointe shoes, to character shoes, to barefoot and back to pointe shoes all in a day."

The team at BLOCH developed their line of Stretch Pointe shoes to address dancer's most common complaints about the fit and performance of their pointe shoes. "It's a scientific take on the pointe shoe," says Roe. Dancers are taking notice and Stretch Pointe shoes are now worn by stars like American Ballet Theatre principal Isabella Boylston, who stars in BLOCH's latest campaign for the shoes.

We dug into the details of Stretch Pointe's most game-changing features:

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The Joffrey Ballet's Amanda Assucena and Greig Matthews in Cathy Marston's Jane Eyre. Cheryl Mann, Courtesy Joffrey Ballet.

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

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Herman Cornejo in Don Quixote. Gene Schiavone, Courtesy ABT.

American Ballet Theatre's fall season at Lincoln Center's Koch Theater offers a chance to see the company in shorter works and mixed-repertoire programs. This year's October 16–27 run honors principal Herman Cornejo, who's celebrating his 20th anniversary with the company. Cornejo will be featured in a special celebratory program as well as a new work by Twyla Tharp (her 17th for the company), set to Johannes Brahms' String Quartet No. 2 in G Major, Op. 111. The October 26 program will include Cornejo in a pas de deux with his sister, former ABT dancer Erica Cornejo.

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