"Bunheads" In Recital

Recitals have their own awkward charm. The littlest dancers always look adorable; the older ones try so earnestly that with every variation’s successful coda the audience breathes a sigh of relief.

 

Last night’s “Bunheads” episode managed to make recitals seem more inventive and better danced than any I remember sitting through. Fanny, the reliably lively Kelly Bishop, had created an ecological fable of a supermarket cashier, torn between evil plastic bags (danced by various talented extras) and a wholesome canvas one (the elegant Julia Goldani Telles). Political correctness never looked sillier, but when Fanny’s students gave it their all, the small screen momentarily captured the passion and sincerity that so many dance students show when they finally get up on stage to perform. Most likeable, as always, was Kaitlyn Jenkins as the conflicted cashier, bravely partnering Telles through a few lifts and generally adding a dash of genuine enthusiasm to the entire concept. The premise may have been far-fetched—like “Bunheads” itself—but its love of dance never seemed more real.

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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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