María Álvarez in John Cranko's Romeo & Juliet. Photo by Liza Voll, Courtesy Boston Ballet.
In Boston Ballet's production of La Sylphide last spring, María Álvarez just about stole the show as Madge. With a conniving gleam in her eye and a grim, angular hitch in her step, she exuded a dramatic, malevolent energy and taut physicality that made the role totally her own. She credits renowned Royal Danish Ballet character artist Sorella Englund's coaching with helping her find the witch's inner torment. "She built the character in me, then gave me the freedom to make Madge alive," says Álvarez.
Hannah Bettes. Photo by Jayme Thornton for Pointe.
This is Pointe's October/November 2018 Cover Story. You can subscribe to the magazine here, or click here to purchase this issue.
Hannah Bettes has had a very big year. The Boston Ballet second soloist was nominated for a Princess Grace Award, and she made her debut in three major classical roles—Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker, Effie in La Sylphide and Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty, her most challenging classical role to date. "You're carrying a full-length ballet, and you have to have the stamina and stay composed and in character, even if you're dying!" Bettes says.
When Bettes, 22, made her professional debut with Boston Ballet four years ago, she was already a highly recognized teen in the competition world, bringing with her a raft of prizes. But she also brought stylistic versatility and a palpable hunger to learn. While she possesses the quintessentially elegant classical line—high extensions, dazzling turns and slender feet that curve into perfect crescent moons—Bettes can easily skew off-center to sidle into the slinky undulations or sharp slices of Boston Ballet's contemporary repertoire.
The wide-ranging rep is one of the aspects of the company she likes best. "Having to keep switching your approach keeps things interesting. Technically, I've been able to progress faster."