Call Board

Career Transition For Dancers' 25th Anniversary

Career Transition For Dancers’ annual gala is always a star-studded affair, and this year’s November 8 performance, honoring Twyla Tharp, is no exception. But the 2010 edition has extra sparkle: It’s the nonprofit group’s 25th anniversary. Over that quarter century, CTFD has helped thousands of dancers in 47 states navigate different stages in their careers. In fact, Pointe’s own founding editor in chief, Virginia Johnson, is a CTFD success story—she came to Pointe through the organization. Offering career counseling, seminars, scholarships and grants, CTFD has become an important resource for dancers who need help taking the next step.

 

Antonio Carmena, a soloist with New York City Ballet, can attest to CTFD’s helpfulness. When he suffered a serious foot injury this year and was forced to rest for several months, he felt lost. “I thought, ‘What am I going to do now?,’” he says. With the help of a CTFD counselor, Carmena decided to take advantage of the time off and pursue another love: cooking. A grant from CTFD allowed him to attend the French Culinary Institute in New York City, where he took 110 hours of classes. “To have the support of my counselor and CTFD was what got me through it,” Carmena says.
Freelance ballerina Melissa Sandvig (of “So You Think You Can Dance” fame) also received critical help from CTFD. A few years ago, after six seasons with Milwaukee Ballet, she fractured her lower back and began taking Pilates classes as part of her rehabilitation. She enjoyed it so much that she decided to get certified. “Focusing on Pilates seemed natural,” she says. “It had really helped me—and I knew teaching Pilates classes could be my breadwinner job when I started dancing again.” A grant from CTFD helped pay for the pricey certification process. “I’m forever grateful to CTFD,” Sandvig says. “When dance is all you know, it’s great to have people you can turn to, and if you need it, that little jump start of money.” —Margaret Fuhrer

 

 

Miami City Ballet  Turns 25
It’s an especially happy birthday for Miami City Ballet. Thanks to a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the company’s 25th-anniversary repertory performances will be accompanied by the Opus One Orchestra. It’s the first time in almost two years that MCB has been able to afford live music.

 

“We are so grateful to the Knight Foundation,” says Artistic Director Edward Villella. “Live music costs about $300,000 a year for us, a significant chunk of our budget. But performing with an orchestra has a very different feel. There’s the wonder of communication between the musicians, the conductor and the dancers.” To welcome back the musicians, MCB’s season-opening program in October includes Jerome Robbins’ playful Fanfare—in which dancers represent the various instruments of an orchestra.

 

Villella is pleased with the way MCB has grown over the years. “We started modestly, with just 19 dancers, and step by step, we watched the company evolve,” he says. Today there are nearly 50 dancers on MCB’s roster. Villella is also proud of the company’s current repertoire, which is full of masterworks by choreographers like Robbins and Balanchine. “These ballets educate dancers—and audiences—in different styles and approaches, in various dramatic ideas,” he says.

 

What’s next for the company? Villella is pragmatic: “There are enormous challenges right now in the area of finances.” Still, he’s willing to express a cautious optimism. “My goal is for the com­pany to be poised to do anything,” he says. “We hope this season will provide us with additional funding and a larger audience—and we in return will present a company ready to take the next step.”  —MF

 

 

Happy Birthday, Nashville Ballet
This October, Nashville Ballet kicks off its 25th-anniversary season with Swan Lake, accompanied by The Nashville Symphony. The symphony will return for  Nashville’s Nutcracker, artistic director Paul Vasterling’s Carmina Burana and a special family performance of Peter & the Wolf
—Elizabeth Keniston

 

A Classic Carmen Comes To Pennsylvania Ballet
The story of the gypsy Carmen and her tragic affair with Don Jose has fascinated choreographers from Mats Ek to Jorma Elo. This October, Pennsylvania Ballet will tackle Roland Petit’s oh-so-French Carmen, one of the most iconic dance versions of the tale, for the first time.

 

Despite Petit’s fame in Europe, his choreography isn’t often seen in the United States—a trend that baffles PAB artistic director Roy Kaiser. He’s been itching to present Carmen since he saw Mikhail Baryshnikov and Natalia Makarova dance it at American Ballet Theatre nearly 30 years ago. “Petit’s works are so important to ballet history,” Kaiser says. “Carmen in particular was ahead of its time when it was made in 1949; it was quite a departure from what people thought of as classical in the ’40s. It created a new way of looking at ballet.”

 

Why this version rather than something more contemporary? “I like the old-world Parisian flavor and drama of Petit’s ballet,” Kaiser says. “It’s not a sensibility that you’d get from a current choreographer. And since Petit isn’t seen much around here, he’s really a ‘new-old’ choreographer—someone I’m happy to introduce my dancers to.”  —MF

 

 

NYCB’s First Fall Season At Lincoln Center
As part of an arrangement with the New York City Opera, which shares Lincoln Center’s David H. Koch Theater, New York City Ballet will present a quirky new fall season this September and October in New York. Highlights include the local première of Plainspoken by NYCB principal and golden-boy choreographer Benjamin Millepied, and a revival of Peter Martins’ The Magic Flute with new sets by David Mitchell. —MF

 

 

Oregon Ballet Theatre’s New Beauty
Christopher Stowell’s revamped production of The Sleeping Beauty, accompanied by the Oregon Ballet Theatre Orchestra, will charm Portland audiences this October. Though Stowell’s version of the full-length classic will often follow Petipa’s original, he plans to incorporate new
choreography to better show off the entire company. Stowell says his ballet’s success will “ride on the overall training and execution of everyone onstage, not just one or two leading dancers.”
While some might be hesitant to alter such an iconic work, Stowell believes that 19th-century ballets should be adjusted to suit the needs of a 21st-century company and its artists: “Being staunchly committed to authenticity can rob works of spontaneity and impact.”  —EK

 

 

Pointe Style Watch: Practical And Pretty

When you have a long day of rehearsal ahead of you, the last thing you want to worry about is your hair. Try Sansha’s stretchy fabric headband in soft ballet pink, which is both a chic accessory and a quick and easy way to keep strands off your face. The band comes in especially handy for dancers growing out bangs and shorter haircuts acquired over the summer. And it’s trendy, too: We’ve noticed American Ballet Theatre principal Veronika Part and San Francisco Ballet principal Sarah Van Patten sporting a similar look.  —MF

 

 

Pointe Shoe Profile: The Royal Ballet’s Laura Morera
Brand: I have always worn Freed of London shoes. When I went to White Lodge (the Royal Ballet Lower School) at age 11, I was fitted by Michelle from Freed, and I’ve never looked back.
Size: I am a 4 triple X. My feet are quite wide!
Maker: Right now my maker is “Q,” and I love him. Once I find a maker I like, I stick with him until he retires and I am forced to try a different one. When I first joined the company, I tried out the makers of my favorite dancers—but I soon discovered that what looks good on one dancer doesn’t always work for others!
Years wearing this shoe: I’m not sure exactly how long I have been wearing this specific maker, but it’s been a while. You get used to the way a shoe fits and how long it lasts and how you work in it; a change of maker can be quite trau­matic. At the end of the day the pointe shoe is our most important tool. It has to be perfect!
Padding: I never wore any padding as a student or in my first couple of years in the company. Then my maker retired, and for a while my shoes felt too big, so to pad them out I added some foam toe pads. I got used to them and now I can’t dance without them.
Break-in process: I crack the shanks underneath the arch. Then I shellac the shoe before I wear it. Finally, I cut off the satin at the tip and use a knife to shave down the sole a bit, so I can feel the floor.
Number of pairs she uses: I am well known in the company for how few shoes I use, despite the fact that I am always onstage! I can use the same pair for a long time, especially in rehearsals. I like my shoes to feel familiar on my feet. 

 

 

Ballet All Over: Platinum Recording Artists Take On Ballet
What happens when pop musicians meet pointe shoes? We’re about to find out: Both Sir Paul McCartney and the electronic dance duo Pet Shop Boys recently announced that they’re composing ballet scores.

 

Former Beatle McCartney, who told BBC News that he decided to try out ballet because he’s “interested in doing things I haven’t done before” (adding “I accept things before I know what I’m doing”), hasn’t revealed much else about his project. But the Pet Shop Boys’ ballet, a collaboration with choreographer Javier De Frutos and Royal Ballet principal Ivan Putrov, is set to premiere in the spring of 2011 at Sadler’s Wells in London. An adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s 1870 story “The Most Incredible Thing,” it will feature a 26-piece orchestra and a 15-member cast led by Putrov, who asked them to write the score. “In the past we have written music for the club dance floor, so to write music for the ballet stage seems like a logical development,” the pair said in a joint statement. “We have always been fascinated by giving our music a theatrical context.” —MF

Latest Posts


Vikki Sloviter

Sydney Dolan Takes Center Stage at Pennsylvania Ballet

This is Pointe's Summer 2020 cover story. You can subscribe to the magazine here, or click here to purchase this issue.

Just days before the world shuttered under the strain of the coronavirus pandemic, and the curtain came down indefinitely on dance companies everywhere, Pennsylvania Ballet soloist Sydney Dolan debuted Gamzatti in La Bayadère with captivating ease. Her jumps soared, her technique was sound, and her cheeky smile paired with exquisite port de bras was beguiling. Though she didn't know the company would soon cancel the remainder of its season, her beautiful performance acted as a kind of send-off into the unknown.

Dolan's career could be described in one word: charmed. At just 19 years old, she's flown through the ranks at PAB, debuted a long list of roles, won a Princess Grace Award and been named one of Dance Magazine's "25 to Watch." Yet it's her challenges that have shaped not only her training but her outlook, giving her a solid foundation for becoming one of Pennsylvania Ballet's rising stars.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
VAM/Siggul, Courtesy YAGP

YAGP Has Announced the Winners of the 2020 Pas De Deux Virtual Competition

Last weekend, Youth America Grand Prix took to the internet, hosting its first virtual pas de deux competition. Over the course of three days, YAGP streamed videos from its regional events' highest-ranked competitors for a panel of esteemed judges. And, drum roll please... YAGP has just announced the winners, spanning three categories: Senior Classical, Junior Classical and Contemporary.

You can watch the full virtual awards ceremony, hosted by YAGP director of external affairs Sergey Gordeev, below, or scroll down for the list of winners. And if you're missing the thrill of competition, don't fear: Gordeev announced that registration for the 2021 season will open on July 10, with both in-person and virtual options available.

Congratulations to all!

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy ABT

Defining and Refining Musicality: How to Tune In and Develop Your Artistic Voice

Ask a hundred people what musicality is, and you're likely to get a hundred different answers. "Musicality is where an artist's personality shines brightest," says Smuin Contemporary Ballet member Ben Needham-Wood. For American Ballet Theatre soloist Skylar Brandt, "it's what distinguishes one dancer from another. It helps me express myself more vividly and emotionally."

Teachers encourage it, directors seek it out and dancers who possess it bring choreography to life in compelling ways. But what exactly is musicality, and how can dancers get more of it?

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks