Call Board

An American Sampler
This June, the third Ballet Across America will bring nine regional ballet companies to the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. Highlights of the event’s three programs include the Kennedy Center debut of Richmond Ballet and a performance of Sir Frederick Ashton’s seldom seen Les Patineurs by Sarasota Ballet.

Ballet All Over
New Cast of “Breaking Pointe”
The popular reality series “Breaking Pointe,” which goes behind the scenes at Ballet West, returns to The CW for its second season on July 29. The cast will feature some new faces: corps member Joshua Whitehead, supplemental artist Silver Barkes and Ballet West II dancers Ian Tanzer and Zachary Prentice. They join original members Christopher Ruud, Ronnie Underwood, Allison DeBona, Rex Tilton, Christiana Bennett and Beckanne Sisk. Pointe followed Sisk during a day’s filming; click here for more.

Malakhov Out, Duato In at Staatsballett
After a decade with a Russian star at the helm, Staatsballett Berlin has looked to Russia again to find its next artistic director. The German company announced earlier this year that Vladimir Malakhov is set to leave in 2014, and will be replaced by Spanish choreographer Nacho Duato, currently the artistic director of St. Petersburg’s Mikhailovsky Ballet.

A former American Ballet Theatre star, Malakhov oversaw the difficult merging of Berlin’s three state ballet companies into one larger ensemble upon his arrival in 2004. He built the new company’s repertoire around a mix of full-length ballets, including reconstructions such as La Péri and La Esmeralda, and contemporary fare by Angelin Preljocaj, Boris Eifman and Mauro Bigonzetti. The failure to renew his contract follows recent negative press in Berlin and the departure of Malakhov’s top star, Polina Semionova, who joined ABT last fall.

The appointment of Duato, who leaves the Mikhailovsky after less than three years, was met with mixed reactions in Berlin. Duato is known for his contemporary choreography, and by hiring him Staatsballett signals a shift in the direction of its repertoire. Under the terms of his five-year contract, Duato will set one of his ballets each season and add work by other modern choreographers, but he has stated in the German press that he also wants to build on the classics Malakhov maintained, adding that his predecessor is leaving “very big shoes to fill.” Duato will also remain the Mikhailovsky’s resident choreographer, and plans to foster cooperation between St. Petersburg and Berlin with co-productions and joint guest appearances: “I’m not going to part with Russia or with my dancers.”

Malakhov, who didn’t give up dancing during his directorship, hasn’t yet announced his plans for the future. “It is all still very fresh to me,” he said, “but I am looking forward to my last season in Berlin.” He will bid the company farewell in June 2014 with two final performances, in Caravaggio and Tschaikowsky. —Laura Cappelle

NYCB Ballerinas Branch Out
Wendy Whelan’s “Restless Creature”
When New York City Ballet principal Wendy Whelan began work on “Restless Creature”—a program of original works created collaboratively with contemporary choreographers Brian Brooks, Kyle Abraham, Joshua Beamish and Alejandro Cerrudo—her goal, she says, was “to find a new side of myself that wasn’t necessarily a ballet version of me.” But even a ballerina as renowned for her curiosity as Whelan can be taken by surprise. Working in the studio with Brooks, for instance, he asked her to step out of her pointe shoes. “It was liberating,” she says. “It made a tremendous difference in how I connected with the floor.”

Whelan, honorary co-chair of Jacob’s Pillow’s opening gala on June 15, will debut her new project at the festival on August 14. In expanding her forays into the contemporary idiom, she follows the example of Mikhail Baryshnikov. He, after all, reinvented himself as a champion of modern dance after performing what seemed like every ballet role known to man. “He’s been the model for me,” Whelan says. “He opened that door and I wondered, Why aren’t more people following him through it?” But given that Whelan is the restless creature at the heart of this project, there’s little doubt the 46-year-old Kentucky native would have found this path even if Baryshnikov hadn’t paved it first. “If I stop learning, my heart sags,” she says.

Before getting into the studio, Whelan had only met two of the choreographers; she knew the others by reputation. But all of them fit with her vision for “Restless Creature” as a search for “distinctive voices.” She’s also been blogging throughout the rehearsal period ( “As the process has gone on, it’s become a diary for me,” she says. “When I reread it, it reinforces that idea of exploration.” —Cathy Harding

Sara Mearns with the New York Philharmonic

New York City Ballet principal Sara Mearns, a longtime fan of the New York Philharmonic, can often be found backstage at the orchestra’s concerts. After a performance one night in 2011, she met Doug Fitch, a previous director and designer of Philharmonic presentations. “He mentioned that he needed a dancer for an upcoming production,” Mearns says. “I was like: I’m right here! Pick me!”

Before long, Mearns was signed on for the Philharmonic’s 2012–13 season finale, a reimagining of Stravinsky’s Petrushka and The Fairy’s Kiss (better known to NYCB audiences as Le Baiser de la Fée) led by Fitch, music director Alan Gilbert and choreographer Karole Armitage. The show runs June 27 to 29 at Lincoln Center.

Mearns was especially excited to work for the first time with Armitage. “Her stuff is very cool and outside of the box,” Mearns says, “but at the same time, she came out of the School of American Ballet, so she knows how we move.”

The production is elaborate, involving film and puppetry. “It’s like a huge Broadway show—dealing with all those components requires split-second timing,” Mearns says. “There’s dancing from start to finish, and a lot of work with the puppeteers, and I’m in the film footage, too.” Other performers include fellow NYCB principal Amar Ramasar and Armitage Gone! Dance’s Abbey Roesner.

“I think dance is about the music first,” Mearns says. “That’s why this feels like such a natural collaboration.” —Margaret Fuhrer

Show Comments ()
Ballet Training
Torija coaches BalletMet Dance Academy summer intensive student Polina Myers. Photos by Jennifer Zmuda, Courtesy BalletMet.

It's the complex transfer of weight that makes piqué turns en dehors—commonly called "step-overs"—so tricky. Maria Torija, director of the BalletMet Dance Academy, shares her ideas on how to successfully navigate these inevitable variation-ending turns.

What's in a name: " 'Step-over' is the American way," Maria Torija explains. But the turn has many names. "Vaganova calls it 'tour dégagé.' 'Lame-duck'—that's the English! Maybe we should go to the French. The Paris Opéra calls it 'tour piqué en dehors.' "

Walk the line: Whether you tombé front or side, Torija stresses the importance of precision in consecutive piqués en dehors. "Hold the passé until you finish the turn, and then tombé right in the path you're going, like on a tightrope." The leg doesn't extend to the front or side. That's a different step. "Tombé means you fall into it. It's a very quick motion."

Keep reading... Show less
Viral Videos
Josephine Lee exploring Oklahoma. Photo Courtesy Lee.

Earlier this summer, we followed master pointe shoe fitter Josephine Lee of the California-based The Pointe Shop as she made her on a pointe shoe fitting tour around the West Coast and California. Now she's back, this time on a 45-day tour from California to Chicago, educating students on all things pointe shoes and helping them to find their perfect fit. Lee's making stops at top ballet companies and academies across the country, interviewing school directors and chatting with professional ballerinas to find out how they customize and break in their pointe shoes. Below, check out Lee's stop at Oklahoma City Ballet. She touches base with company soloist Amanda Popejoy and school director Penny Askew. Stay tuned for more!

Keep reading... Show less
Sarah Beth Marr. Photo by Oliver Endahl of Ballet Zaida, Courtesy Marr.

Several years ago, Sarah Beth Marr, then a dancer with Mejia Ballet International in Arlington, Texas, went to see a famous ballerina give an interview at a nearby theater. She was eager to hear the dancer's insights on navigating a ballet career. "I was hoping for some kind of secret sauce in order to keep going," she says. When it came time for a question and answer period, several in the audience asked the ballerina about what got her through challenging times. "Her answer was that she worked really hard and pushed herself and tried to be the best," says Marr, "and there's a lot of truth in that." But she was left with a heavy feeling inside. "Is it all about working really hard and striving and carving my own path, or is there something deeper?"

Keep reading... Show less
Joffrey Ballet's April Daly, Yoshihisa Arai and Amanda Assucena in Christopher Wheeldon's Swan Lake. Assucena will make her debut in the role of Odette/Odile this week. Photo by Cheryl Mann, Courtesy Joffrey.

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

Keep reading... Show less
Ballet Training
Remie Goins, a student at International City School of Ballet in Atlanta, performs at the YAGP finals. Photo by VAM, Courtesy YAGP.

You've watched First Position, the 2011 documentary about dancers at Youth America Grand Prix. You've studied videos of past ballet competition winners online. Now, you're interested in joining those elite ranks by entering a competition yourself. But what if your school doesn't have a program set up to guide you through the process? Pointe asked four experts to break down what ballet competition newbies need to know.

Keep reading... Show less
Joseph Gordon, pictured here in George Balanchine's Who Cares?, became New York City Ballet's newest principal this weekend. Photo by Paul Kolnik, Courtesy NYCB.

On October 13, the evening before the close of New York City Ballet's fall season and longtime principal Joaquin De Luz's retirement performance, Jonathan Stafford, the leader of the company's interim artistic team, promoted seven company dancers: six men and one woman. In addition to De Luz, NYCB lost three other principal men this fall. Chase Finlay, Zachary Catazaro and Amar Ramasar were fired last month in the midst of a scandal surrounding the sharing of sexually explicit communications. With principal Adrian Danchig-Waring out of commission while recovering from a broken foot, the company has been in need of male dancers to bolster its upper ranks.

Joseph Gordon has been promoted to principal, and Daniel Applebaum, Harrison Coll, Claire Kretzschmar, Aaron Sanz, Sebastian Villarini-Velez and Peter Walker have been promoted to soloist. All seven made a number of debuts throughout the year and shone in featured roles; we've rounded up some of their recent accomplishments below.

Keep reading... Show less
From left: ABT principals Devon Teuscher, Christine Shevchenko and Gillian Murphy isn Praedicere. Photo by Marty Sohl, Courtesy ABT.

Last spring American Ballet Theatre artistic director Kevin McKenzie announced the company's Women's Movement, a multi-year initiative to support the creation of new work by female choreographers. ABT's fall season, running October 17–28 at Lincoln Center's David H. Koch Theater, sets the project in full swing. The opening gala features a world premiere by tap extraordinaire Michelle Dorrance. A co-commission with the Vail Dance Festival, this work marks ABT's third collaboration with Dorrance this year: She created Praedicere, a pièce d'occasion for ABT's spring gala, as well as a work on company dancers at Vail last summer. The gala performance also includes past and present works by two female choreographers: Twyla Tharp's 1986 In The Upper Room and Lauren Lovette's 2017 Le Jeune, which will be danced by the ABT Studio Company.

Keep reading... Show less
Sarah Lane and Jeffrey Cirio in Harlequinade. Photo: ErIn Baiano

American Ballet Theatre's two months of performances at New York City's Metropolitan Opera House can be an exciting but demanding time for the dancers. With nine ballets in eight weeks including Whipped Cream and Harlequinade, a night off is hard to come by.

James Whiteside as Harlequin in Harlequinade. Photo: Rosalie O'Connor

Keep reading... Show less
Viral Videos
Josephine Lee outside Ballet West Academy. Photo Courtesy Lee.

Earlier this summer, we followed master pointe shoe fitter Josephine Lee of the California-based The Pointe Shop as she made her on a pointe shoe fitting tour around the West Coast and California. Now she's back, this time on a 45-day tour from California to Chicago, educating students on all things pointe shoes and helping them to find their perfect fit. Lee's making stops at top ballet companies and academies across the country, exploring schools and getting know academy directors. Below, check out Lee's stop at Ballet West. She touches base with academy director Peter Merz. Stay tuned for more!

Editors' List: The Goods
San Francisco Ballet soloist Koto Ishihara stretches in her warm-up boots. Photo by Quinn Wharton for Dance Magazine.

With cooler weather finally here, it's time to talk warm-ups. And while your dancewear drawer is probably overflowing with oversized sweaters, leggings and enough leg warmers to outfit the whole class, warm-up boots are often forgotten. To keep your feet and ankles cozy in between rehearsals, we rounded up dance warm-up boots that suit every style.

Bloch Inc. Printed Warm-up Bootie

via Bloch Inc.

Created by Irina Dvorovenko and Max Beloserkovsky, this collection comes in a variety of tie dye, floral and even butterfly prints., $48

Kimin Kim and Soobin Lee. Photo Courtesy SunHee Kim.

Kimin Kim may be a huge star in Russia, but he hasn't forgotten his roots. The prodigious South Korean dancer, who became the Mariinsky Ballet's first foreign principal in 2015, trained at the Korea National University of the Arts, also known as K'Arts. He owes much of his success, he says over email, to the academy's teachers, who prepared him well for his high-profile career. So when dean SunHee Kim approached him about guest-starring in the American premiere of her original ballet Song of the Mermaid, which K'Arts Ballet brings to New York City next week, he didn't hesitate to sign on. "I had performed the role of the Prince while I was at school in Korea and it was such a memorable performance," Kim says. "I've always wanted to do it again, so I happily accepted her offer."

Keep reading... Show less


Viral Videos



Get Pointe Magazine in your inbox


Win It!