News
Frances Chung as the title role in Christopher Wheeldon's Cinderella. Erik Tomasson, Courtesy SFB.

Six-time Tony Award-winning lighting designer Natasha Katz has lit such Broadway musical hits as Frozen, Hello Dolly! and A Chorus Line. She is also one of choreographer Christopher Wheeldon's biggest collaborators, designing the lighting for works such as Broadway's An American in Paris, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Cinderella, a 2012 co-production of San Francisco Ballet and Dutch National Ballet. Shortly after SFB opened their 2020 season with Cinderella last month, Pointe caught up with Katz to talk about her career, her collaborative relationship with Wheeldon, and the lighting profiles of co-productions.

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Training
Dancers at Cincinnati Ballet's 2019 Collegiate Intensive. Angie Lipscomb, Courtesy Cincinnati Ballet.

Summer intensives aren't just for teenagers anymore. Several companies and schools are now offering ballet programs tailored to the specific needs of young adults in their early career or in college. In addition to helping dancers stay in shape, these intensives and workshops give them a chance to receive coaching and career mentoring, practice the craft of choreography, learn new repertoire and expand their knowledge of the ballet business. Read on for more information on eight upcoming professional and collegiate summer intensives.

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Career
BalletX rehearsing Wubkje Kuindersma's Yonder. Vikki Sloviter, Courtesy BalletX.

When Christine Cox and Matthew Neenan were forming BalletX in 2005, they had big dreams: Still dancers with Pennsylvania Ballet, they aspired for their contemporary ballet company to perform at Jacob's Pillow and Vail Dance Festival. They liked the idea of presenting new work. They hoped someday their company would be on the cover of Dance Magazine.

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Profiles
Morgan in rehearsal for Firebird. "When something is taken away from you, you appreciate it 10 times more once you have it back, she says. Lilly Echeverria.

A couple years ago, if you had told Kathryn Morgan that she'd be a soloist at Miami City Ballet, learning roles like the Firebird, Mercedes in Don Quixote and the Striptease Girl in Slaughter on Tenth Avenue, she would have said you were crazy. But last April, seven years after she was diagnosed with hypothyroidism and left her career at New York City Ballet behind, Morgan signed a professional company contract once again.

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Profiles
Karina González in Ben Stevenson's Coppélia. Amitava Sarkar, Courtesy Houston Ballet.

Are you more of a Giselle or a Juliet?

I've always said that my favorite role is Juliet, because of her vulnerability and maturity throughout the ballet. But now that I've performed Giselle, I find her so incredibly enjoyable, from being a village girl who falls in love for the first time to the most tender, almost weightless dancing in Act II.

Are you more at home in the studio or onstage?

I love the time in the studio. The process of starting from zero to getting better each day is so rewarding. My favorite phrase in rehearsals is "Let's do it again, so I can sleep in peace tonight." I need to feel so comfortable in the studio so that when I am onstage there are no bad surprises.

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Career
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Dancers certainly don't need anyone to tell them how physical their profession is. But now, we have the data to prove it.

Researchers at InsuranceProviders.com analyzed data from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET), a national organization developed through support from the U.S. Department of Labor/Employment and Training Administration, to determine the 20 most physically demanding jobs in the country. They analyzed the level of strength, stamina, flexibility and coordination required for a host of jobs.

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Profiles
David Kornfield, Courtesy National Ballet of Canada

I first saw Maria Seletskaya when she was dancing as a leading soloist in Europe. Years later, she sent me a video of herself with the Stuttgart Ballet—not as a dancer, but as a guest orchestra conductor! I found her work and this particular transition very exciting and so I brought it to the attention of David Briskin, musical director of the National Ballet of Canada (where I dance), to see what he would think.

Being a ballerina is certainly challenging on its own. But as Seletskaya negotiated a career transition that felt right for her, she opted to pursue another, equally demanding passion: music.

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Profiles
Lara Paraschiv. Rachel Neville, Courtesy Paraschiv.

Most professional ballet dancers' stories start the same way. They begin training at a local studio between the ages of 3 and 10, move to a pre-professional school and eventually enter a company. Lara Paraschiv did not follow this script. She began her serious ballet training at age 16, and went from beginner to professional in just five years. Having overcome naysayers along the way, she is now in her first season at Russia's Astrakhan State Ballet, and plans to keep on climbing.

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Profiles
Marty Sohl, Courtesy ABT

When I was 14 years old, I placed in Youth America Grand Prix's final round and was offered a scholarship to the Royal Ballet School's summer intensive. As overjoyed as I was, I couldn't help but realize just how hard I'd had to fight to get to this point. Despite the years of tears, bullies and constant exclusion that I'd faced, I hadn't given up—and it was paying off.

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Career
Samantha Hope Galler and Alexander Peters rehearse Jerome Robbins' I'm Old Fashioned. Alexander Iziliaev, Courtesy MCB.

In 1983, at New York City Ballet, Jerome Robbins decided to create a tribute to the great Fred Astaire, one of the most influential artists of the 20th century. Astaire dazzled audiences on the silver screen, making an unmistakable impact on dance in film. Robbins decided to set his ballet against the backdrop of film projections of Astaire dancing with Rita Hayworth in a scene from the 1942 film You Were Never Lovelier. According to NYCB's website, when Robbins wrote to Astaire letting him know of his intentions, Astaire replied, "I'm honored that you want to do what you suggest." The result was I'm Old Fashioned, a ballet that's full of Astaire's signature elegance, and the glamour and romance of his films. The work transports the audience back to a time of long ball gowns and men in white ties and tails, when love stories were told through dance.

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Career
Richard Termine, Courtesy New York Theater Ballet

Amanda Farris has never danced in a company with more than 20 dancers. "Growing up we have these notions that we're aiming for the big companies, and that's the only place success lies," says the California native, who dances with the 11-member Diablo Ballet outside San Francisco. Yet Farris' impressive rep says otherwise: Over the course of her career she's performed everything from Giselle to Balanchine's Apollo to Trey McIntyre's Blue Boy.

Small troupes tend to slip under the radar. But they offer unique benefits that are harder to find in big ballet companies, such as frequent opportunities for featured roles and forging deep connections with colleagues. The intimate working environment also provides ample opportunities for artistic growth. We spoke with dancers working at small ballet companies across the country to learn what they love about the careers they've made.

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Career
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For a limited time only, enter here to win a copy of Eat Right Dance Right.

It's that time of year when cold weather and busy performance schedules have you craving delicious comfort foods. To help make winter cooking less daunting, we're sharing three professional dancers' favorite recipes. For added confidence that these meals are great for fueling your dancing, we asked Marie Elena Scioscia, a registered dietitian and author of Eat Right Dance Right, to weigh in on what makes them healthy, and the small things you can do to make them even healthier.

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