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.

Summer Intensive Survival
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There's a sweet spot toward the end of August—after summer intensives have wrapped up and before it's time to head back to school or work—where the days are long, lazy and begging to be spent neck-deep in a pile of good books. Whether you're looking for inspiration for the upcoming season or trying to brush up on your dance history, you can never go wrong with an excellent book on ballet. We've gathered eight titles (all available at common booksellers like Amazon and Barnes and Noble) guaranteed to give you a deeper understanding of the art form, to add to your end-of-summer reading list.

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James Yoichi Moore and Noelani Pantastico warm up onstage. Angela Sterling, Courtesy SDC.

On a sunny July weekend, hundreds of Seattle-area dance fans converged on tiny Vashon Island, a bucolic enclave in Puget Sound about 20 miles from the city. They made the ferry trek to attend the debut performance of the fledgling Seattle Dance Collective.

SDC is not a run-of-the-mill contemporary dance company; it's the brainchild of two of Pacific Northwest Ballet's most respected principal dancers: James Yoichi Moore and Noelani Pantastico. The duo wanted to create a nimble organization to feature dancers and choreographers they felt needed more exposure in the Pacific Northwest.

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News
Roman Mejia in Robbins' Dances at a Gathering. Erin Baiano, Courtesy NYCB.

The Princess Grace Foundation has just announced its 2019 class, and we're thrilled that two ballet dancers—New York City Ballet's Roman Mejia and BalletX's Stanley Glover—are included among the list of über-talented actors, filmmakers, playwrights, dancers and choreographers.

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The Royal Ballet's Alexander Campbell and Yasmine Naghdi in Ashton's The Two Pigeons. Tristram Kenton, Courtesy ROH.

While most ballet casts are 100 percent human, it's not unheard of for live animals to appear onstage, providing everything from stage dressing to supporting roles. Michael Messerer's production of Don Quixote features a horse and a donkey; American Ballet Theatre's Giselle calls for two Russian wolfhounds; and Sir Frederick Ashton's La Fille Mal Gardee requires a white Shetland pony. Another Ashton masterpiece, The Two Pigeons, is well known for its animal actors. But though ballet is a highly disciplined, carefully choreographed art form, some performers are naturally more prone to flights of fancy—because they're birds.

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