Make sure you're comfortable slipping into pointe shoes for center. Photo by Jim Lafferty.

I was offered a company contract (my first!) starting this fall. What should I do in the meantime to make sure I'm as prepared as possible? —Melissa

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Photo by Jacob Bryant, Courtesy Random Acts

"When you turn up at someone's door saying, 'I would like to make the first dance in Antarctica,' they often call you crazy."

So says Kiwi choreographer and former ballet dancer Corey Baker. Luckily, his persistence paid off. On Sunday, April 22 (that's Earth Day, everybody), Baker, who now directs the U.K.–based Corey Baker Dance, is releasing his short film "Antarctica: The First Dance." Commissioned by Random Acts for Channel 4 and The Space (UK), the four-minute film stars Royal New Zealand Ballet dancer Madeleine Graham—who performed in unimaginably frigid conditions to promote Baker's very important message. "I wanted to highlight Antarctica's epic landscape and vast beauty, but at the same time show that it is under threat," he says. "Climate change impact is real and immediate. By showing up-close the beauty of this incredible place, people can feel closer to something that may otherwise seem abstract and unconnected."

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Ballet Stars
Photo Courtesy Elliott Arkin.

You can find Tiler Peck just about anywhere these days—onstage at New York City Ballet, in commercials, on "The Ellen Degeneres Show." And let's not forget starring in 2014's Little Dancer, a musical that followed the creation of Edgar Degas' famous sculpture, "Little Dancer Aged 14." Peck played Marie van Goethem, the young Paris Opéra Ballet School student who modeled for Degas. Now, she's reprising the role—er, her likeness is—for a good cause. Visual artist Elliott Arkin has created a series of limited edition sculptures of Peck as the Little Dancer. Proceeds will go to Dance Against Cancer, the annual benefit concert for the American Cancer Society produced by NYCB principal Daniel Ulbricht and Manhattan Youth Ballet programming director Erin Fogarty (both of whom lost a parent to the disease). Peck will also be part of the event's star-studded cast; all of the dancers donate their time, and most perform in memory of a loved one.

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News
Kochetkova in Helgi Tomasson's Trio. Photo by Erik Tomasson, Courtesy SFB.

San Francisco Ballet announced this morning that principal dancer Maria Kochetkova will leave the company at the the end of the 2017–18 season. Her final performance date has not yet been announced, but it will be sometime during the company's Unbound Festival, April 20–May 6.

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Esteban and Isaac Hernández in rehearsal. "Sometimes I question whether I'm pushing myself too much," says Isaac (right), who spends much of his free time fundraising, planning the gala and making weekend trips to Mexico. "But I'm young and ambitious, and I must use that while my body still allows me to." Photo by Santiago Barreiro, Courtesy Soul Arts Productions.

Most people associate ballet with opera houses, not rock-concert venues. But on a summer night in August, almost 10,000 people packed Mexico City's National Auditorium to experience Despertares, an international gala featuring some of the dance world's biggest stars. Despertares (which means "awakenings" in Spanish) is the passion project of Mexican dancer Isaac Hernández, a lead principal at English National Ballet. Together with his brother, San Francisco Ballet soloist Esteban Hernández, they hope to develop new audiences in their home country. The gala is their fifth, and part of a larger initiative that includes outreach projects and a free ballet school for underprivileged children.

The National Auditorium in Mexico City. Photo Courtesy Soul Arts Productions.

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Ballet Stars
Sergei Polunin and Svetlana Zakharova in "Giselle." Photo Courtesy Fathom Events.

We've been seeing a lot of Sergei Polunin on the big screen lately, between last fall's Murder on the Orient Express and the recent spy-thriller Red Sparrow. But on Sunday, April 8, we'll have a chance to see him in full dancer mode again—alongside Bolshoi ballerina Svetlana Zakharova, no less! The pair will headline in Giselle, part of this season's Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema Series. Fathom Events, By Experience and Pathé Live will partner to broadcast the 2015 Bolshoi performance, which featured Polunin as a guest artist, to movie theaters nationwide. It's a rare opportunity to see these two ballet mega-stars dancing together. Click here to find theaters, showtimes and tickets near you. Can't wait 'til Sunday? Check out the sneak preview below.

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I don't have full 180-degree turnout, so I can't make the same beautiful lines that other dancers can. Even if I strengthen my body enough to utilize my full range of motion, will anyone ever hire me? —Carmen

Let's face it—very few dancers are born with a "perfect" ballet facility. Some struggle with their feet or knees; I dealt with an inflexible back. Part of being an artist means learning to work with the body you have. I personally have known several beautiful dancers with less-than-ideal turnout who went on to have successful careers. Sure, sometimes their limited turnout was noticeable. But for the most part, my eye was drawn to their strengths.

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Ballet Training
Photo by Matthew Murphy

We do a lot of fast frappé combinations at barre, but my footwork is still a mess. Do you have any tips? —Anna

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