Celebrating the JKO School

American Ballet Theatre's Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School has come a long way in the short decade since it was founded. So far, in fact, that it's part of a select group of schools invited to perform at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow as part of the Bolshoi Ballet Academy's celebration of its 240th anniversary.

Last night, ABT hosted a special event to support and celebrate the dancers of the ABT Studio Company, who'll be making the trip to Moscow. (The troupe falls under the JKO umbrella.) Members of the ABT family who studied at the Bolshoi were on hand to comment on the similarities and (mostly) differences between Russian and American training. It was especially fascinating to hear Alexei Ratmansky—not only an alum of the Bolshoi Academy, but also a former artistic director of the Bolshoi Ballet—dig into the complicated history of Russian ballet. (And to hear that Ratmansky didn't see tapes of the works of Balanchine and Ashton, or of defectors Natalia Makarova and Mikhail Baryshnikov, until he graduated from the Academy in 1986.) I also never realized that, as ABT director Kevin McKenzie pointed out, Ballet Theatre only became American Ballet Theatre in 1960—at the request of President Eisenhower, who asked the company to add "American" to its name before its tour to the Soviet Union. ABT's Sascha Radetsky and Gabe Stone Shayer, who both spent some time training at the Bolshoi Academy, discussed not only the intensely physical nature of the Bolshoi style but also the warm welcome they received from their fellow students, who "treated them like minor celebrities."

But the best part of the night was watching the gifted members of the Studio Company perform some of the works they'll be dancing in Russia. While lithe, elegant Rachel Richardson and razor-sharp Joo Won Ahn were special standouts in multiple works, the whole group shone especially bright in Antony Tudor's Continuo, set to Pachelbel's Canon. Tudor's lucid choreography displayed the dancers' clean, unaffected lines to their best advantage—and made it clear that these young talents will more than hold their own on the Bolshoi stage.

Latest Posts


Getty Images

How Can I Stay Motivated While Training at Home?

Ethan Ahuero was having a good year: he was in his first season dancing with Kansas City Ballet II and had been presented with the opportunity to choreograph on the second company. "The day before we shut down I had a rehearsal, and I was so happy," Ahuero says. "The piece was coming together and this was the first time I felt really proud of my creative process."

Suddenly, the coronavirus pandemic brought everything to a halt. With the company's season cut short and the studios closed, Ahuero found himself attempting to continue dancing from home, with his choreography project put on hold. Like many other dancers around the world, Ahuero is dealing with disappointment while struggling to stay motivated.

Keeping up with daily ballet classes may feel difficult right now; inspiration can seem hard to come by when you're following along on Zoom and short on space at home. Below are a few simple tips for finding new ways to stay motivated.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Courtesy Goh Academy

Pro-Pro Priorities: The Top Skills to Focus on During Your Final Training Years

As told to Rachel Caldwell

Finding the right pre-professional training program can be daunting. Then once you're there, what should you focus on in order to succeed? To shine some light on the topic, we talked to five leading teachers and directors who have seen scores of students move on to flourishing ballet careers. Here's what they suggested for young dancers on the pre-professional track.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Tulsa Ballet in Ma Cong's Tchaikovsky: The Man Behind the Music. Kate Luber Photography, Courtesy Tulsa Ballet.

Updated: Mark Your Calendars for These Online Ballet Performances

Updated on 5/21/2020

Since COVID-19 has forced ballet companies around the world to cancel performances—and even the remainder of their seasons—many are keeping their audiences engaged by streaming or posting pre-recorded performances onto their websites or social media channels. To help keep you inspired during these challenging times, we've put together a list of upcoming streaming events and digital performances.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks