Originally from Amherst, MA, Chava graduated from Barnard College with a B.A. in Dance and a minor in English. She has worked for Jacob's Pillow Dance and the Bates Dance Festival, and held a fellowship in the Dance Division of the Library of Congress. Chava has performed works by Martha Graham, Mark Morris, Lucinda Childs, Molissa Fenley, Patricia Hoffbauer, Joanna Kotze, Loni Landon and Kate Weare. She continues to create work and perform in the city, and is a member of Debbie Mausner Dance Collective.
Ballet Fantastique's Tracy Fuller and Gustavo Ramirez in Babes in Toyland. Photo by Bob Williams and Stephanie Urso, Courtesy BF.
Eugene, Oregon–based Ballet Fantastique debuts a forgotten holiday classic December 14–16. Babes in Toyland, co-choreographed and produced by mother-daughter duo and company directors Hannah and Donna Bontrager, pulls from source material ranging from Victor Herbert's original 1903 operetta to Disney's 1961 film. "We watched all the movies and read as many different versions of the story as we could find," says Hannah. The pair distilled the elements they liked best to create their own amalgamated plot. "The story is filled with joviality and lovable, familiar storybook characters," adds Donna. The cast also pays homage to the world's best-known holiday ballet, The Nutcracker. "We've added a character called Mother Gingerbread, and some gingerbread kids," says Hannah.
Julia Roberts in "The Commuter," choreographed and directed by Justin Peck. Screenshot via The New York Times.
We already knew that Justin Peck is a crossover superstar. His accolades from this past year alone include a Tony Award for best choreography for Carousel, a performance on The Tonight Show with The National, and plans to choreograph Steven Spielberg's upcoming West Side Story remake. Today, he proves himself all over again with a series of short films for The New York Times Magazine titled "Let's Dance," featuring some of 2018's most lauded movie stars. You can see these videos here, including an augmented-reality experience available to those with newer iPhones or iPads.
Isabelle Lapierre in a still from Finding Clara. Courtesy Justice Studios.
Last winter, we told you all about "Finding Clara," a YouTube series produced by tween clothing brand Justice. It followed four BalletMet Academy students cast in BalletMet's The Nutcracker. This year, it gets even better: The heart-melting show has been turned into a full-length documentary. Finding Clara was released today for rental and purchase on Amazon, Google Play and iTunes.
Atlanta Ballet dancers in rehearsal with Yuri Possokhov. Photo by Kim Kenney, Courtesy Atlanta Ballet.
When Gennadi Nedvigin took over as artistic director of Atlanta Ballet in 2016, one of his first goals was to produce a new Nutcracker; it's been over 20 years since the company's last revamp by former director John McFall. Nedvigin immediately turned to choreographer Yuri Possokhov. "You need to be a really mature choreographer to visualize the whole story," says Nedvigin. Now, two years later, Atlanta Ballet's new Nutcracker will come to life December 8–24.
New York City Ballet soloist Georgina Pazcoguin. Photo by Nick Nakahara, Courtesy Pazcoguin.
As conversations in the ballet world about race and representation have opened up in the past few years, its most beloved holiday tradition, The Nutcracker, has come under scrutiny as well. Last year New York City Ballet made changes to its second act Chinese Tea variation, removing elements of racial caricature from both the costume and makeup and the choreography.
NYCB soloist Georgina Pazcoguin, who is part Filipino, was one of the voices fighting for that change. This year, as companies and schools worldwide are gearing up for Nutcracker season, Pazcoguin, along with former dancer and arts administrator Phil Chan, is back with a new campaign. Final Bow For Yellowface is an online platform dedicated to educating companies and schools on how to veer away from offensive Asian stereotypes (yellowface) and providing resources on how to make those changes. The site also lets readers join dance world luminaries including Virginia Johnson, Julie Kent, Adam Sklute, Troy Schumacher and Christopher Wheeldon in signing a pledge to end the practice of yellowface onstage. We touched base with Pazcoguin to hear about how this initiative came to be, and what she and Chan have in the works for the future.
As all bunheads know, there's so much more to dancing on pointe than sewing and bourées. In this new video, The Australian Ballet lays it all out for us, from A-Z. Or rather from "Arch" to "Zzzzzz's." Using a super fast-paced style, this four-and-a-half minute long video skips back and forth between ultra-sleek minimalism and sepia-toned nostalgia. Both educational and insider-y (see "cashews" at 0:54), this video includes some gorgeous shots (Apollo-inspired arabesques at 2:00) interspersed with quirky humor (note adorable pointe shoe bed at 3:53).
So here you go, "A to Z En Pointe." Did they miss any?
Moscow Ballet's Great Russian Nutcrackeris not your average Nut. In 1994, the production debuted in six cities across the U.S. This winter, three simultaneously traveling companies of Russian dancers will bring the ballet to 137 cities, incorporating up to 120 local children in each location. For Mary Talmi, co-founder and producer of Talmi Entertainment, which produces the show, this is no small feat. "The role of arts education in this country is needed more than ever, and the more expansive our tour is, the more I realize that the benefits to the children are way beyond dance," she says.
Archie crossing the stage with his castmates. Photo Courtesy Festival Ballet Providence.
Every ballet star's stage career must eventually come to an end. This season,
Festival Ballet Providence celebrates the retirement of one of its Nutcracker's best loved performers: Archie the dog. This Yorkshire Terrier, owned by FBP artistic director Misha Djuric, has taken the stage in more than 125 performances of FBP's Nutcracker over the past 19 years. Though he'll be missed, it makes sense... after all, in human years, he is nearing his 93rd birthday.
Archie appears in the ballet's first scene, scampering across the stage with the partygoers. "Archie announced that he's settling down to a life of luxury and long naps on pillow," says Djuric in a statement. "He actually never expected to have become so famous and he's very grateful for the fans who have supported him all these years."