Ballet Stars

Celebrate These Quirky February Holidays with Ballet Videos

The Royal Ballet's Marianela Nuñez in "Swan Lake." Image via YouTube.

Need an excuse for a YouTube ballet break? Probably not, but just in case, here are videos to celebrate some of this month's off-the-beaten-path holidays.


Lame Duck Day (February 6)

Did you know that February 6 is Lame Duck Day? "Lame duck" can only mean one thing in the realm of ballet: those love-them-or-hate-them turns that pop up in center combos and onstage in Odette's Act II variation. Enjoy Marianela Nuñez's dreamy sequence of lame ducks (aka pique turn en dehors) in The Royal Ballet's 2009 Swan Lake. It's not hard to see why she was chosen to reprise the role in the company's much anticipated new production last year. (When you think about it, though, it's kind of ironic that the Swan Queen performs "lame ducks," isn't it? Then again, the Little Swans dance the "step of the cat"!)

Umbrella Day (February 10)

Apparently we also have a day to honor umbrellas. You know the saying about learning to dance in the rain—and if you can dance in the rain with your crush, it's twice the fun! In this adorable, romantic pas de deux from the 2011 Bolshoi Ballet Academy's production of La fille mal gardée, then-students Joy Womack and Mario Labrador dance under an umbrella as Lise and Colas. #OnstageRelationshipGoals

Cherry Pie Day (February 20)

February 20 is Cherry Pie Day! There aren't a lot of ballets that depict eating onstage. But in this playful, lighthearted moment from Sir Frederick Ashton's A Month in the Country, former Royal Ballet principals Sarah Wildor and Bruce Sansom share a snack of cherries. Then, they burst into a joyous, energetic duet (a little sugar will do that, right?).

Public Sleeping Day (February 28)

This February 28th, we honor the power nap. Princess Aurora's tips for sleeping in public? Pick a comfy tutu to nap in, skip the covers and, above all, remember to turn out and point your feet. In this 2015 clip, Royal Ballet principal Sarah Lamb rocks the technique of onstage balletic sleeping as Steven McCrae's Prince arrives to end the 100-year nap and get everyone back on their dancing feet again.

The Conversation
Summer Intensive Survival
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It is easy to feel as though the entire ballet year revolves around summer: more hours in the day for dance, and another summer intensive to add to your resumé. You've likely dreamt about which program you want to attend, traveled to auditions and gotten excited about the new challenges in a big city school. But what if you find yourself staying home?

It can feel heartbreaking to watch your peers take off for their intensives. Whether you're staying home by choice or because of injury or finances, you can still improve and have fun at your local studio. Unlike those headed off to big intensives, you have flexibility and money on your side. Jody Skye Schissler, owner of Skye Ballet Center in Herndon, Virginia, encourages dancers to start by asking, "How can you make your summer more focused on yourself and what you need for your future?" Here are tips for making the most of your time at home.

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The Royal Ballet's Vadim Muntagirov and Marianela Nuñez in La Bayadère. Photo by Bill Cooper, Courtesy ROH.

Do you ever wish you could teleport to London and casually stroll into The Royal Opera House to see some of the world's best-loved ballets? Well, we have a solution for you: The Royal Ballet's 2018-19 cinema season.

Whether live or recorded, the seven ballet programs listed below, streaming now through next October, will deliver all of the magic that The Royal Ballet has to offer straight to your local movie theater. Can you smell the popcorn already?

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Ballet Stars
Royal Ballet principal Steven McRae with his kids. Via Instagram.

With Father's Day just around the corner, we wanted to take a minute to acknowledge some of the dancer dads out there who are doing double duty at home and onstage. So in between feting the father figures in your life this weekend (and thanking them for sitting through countless hours of dance recitals throughout the course of your lives), check out these eight ballet dads below.

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Ballet Stars
Antonio Carmena (right) coaches a Barnard College student. Photo by Marcus Salazar, courtesy Carmena.

Some ballet dancers, the lucky ones at least, get to enjoy long, successful careers. Yet their dancing schedule usually allows little time for anything else. At New York City Ballet, for instance, most dancers don't have secondary jobs on the side, although layoffs between seasons provide short opportunities to flex new muscles, like teaching. But performance careers inevitably come to an end, and dancers must then "become" something else.

When former NYCB soloist Antonio Carmena retired from the company in 2017, he realized he wasn't quite prepared for the next step. His retirement uncovered an insecurity buried deep within him—that without dance, he wasn't "good" at anything anymore. It's taken two years for Carmena to develop more work experience as he searches for a new place for himself in the dance world. And while he admits it's an ongoing journey, the pieces are finally starting to come together.

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