#TBT: Cynthia Gregory in Alvin Ailey’s "The River"

A lake is a familiar setting for a ballet, though usually its shore is home to swans or Wilis. In “The Lake" section of Alvin Ailey's The River, which he choreographed for American Ballet Theatre in 1970, the dancers represent the water itself. In this clip, former ABT principal Cynthia Gregory appears clad in a simple dress of muted gray, like the color of silt stirred up from a lake's murky bottom. To the plucking strings and sonorous horns of Duke Ellington's score, she commands our attention with her swirling and confident shapes. The melody intermittently becomes a tango when Marcos Paredes and other ABT dancers join in, their bodies undulating like lapping waves. The group's level changes and the weight of Gregory's sensual lyricism evoke a lake's mysterious depths.


In its description by Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, the River is said to be "Ailey's allegory of birth, life and rebirth." It's a fitting role for Gregory, who emerged as a preeminent American ballerina in a time when stars were often imported from overseas. She danced with ABT from 1965 to 1975, took a yearlong hiatus, and then rejoined the company to continue her brilliant 30-year career. Happy #TBT!

Latest Posts


Whitney Ingram

Revisiting Julie Kent's Dance Bag, 20 Years Later

Julie Kent was our very first Show & Tell when Pointe magazine launched in spring of 2000. Then a principal with American Ballet Theatre, Kent carried a second bag entirely dedicated to her pointe shoes. Twenty years later, she is now the artistic director of The Washington Ballet, and no longer needs to tote her pointe shoes. "For 40 years they were like a part of my body," says Kent. "And now they're not part of the landscape until my daughter's old enough to go on pointe." Nevertheless, Kent's current role keeps her in the studio. She always carries practice clothes and ballet slippers for teaching and rehearsals.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Courtesy Tiler Peck

Tiler Peck's Top 10 Tips for Training at Home

On March 15, New York City Ballet principal Tiler Peck announced to her 172,000-plus Instagram followers that she'd be teaching a live class from her family's home in Bakersfield, California, where she's currently waiting out COVID-19. Little did she know that she'd receive such a viral response. Since then, Peck has offered daily Instagram LIVE classes Monday through Friday at 10 am PST/1 pm EST, plus an occasional Saturday class and Sunday stretch/Pilates combo. "The reaction was just so overwhelming," she says. "These classes are keeping me sane, and giving me something to look forward to."

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Getty Images

It’s OK to Grieve: Coping with the Emotional Toll of Canceled Dance Events

Grace Campbell was supposed to be onstage this week. Selected for the Kansas City Ballet School's invitation-only Kansas City Youth Ballet, her performance was meant to be the highlight of her senior year. "I was going to be Queen of the Dryads in Don Quixote, and also dance in a couple of contemporary pieces, so I was really excited," she says. A week later, the group was supposed to perform at the Youth America Grand Prix finals in NYC. In May, Grace was scheduled to take the stage again KC Ballet School's "senior solos" show and spring performance.

Now, all those opportunities are gone.

The COVID-19 pandemic has consumed the dance community. The performance opportunities students have worked all year for have been devoured with it. Those canceled shows might have been your only chance to dance for an audience all year. Or they might have been the dance equivalent to a cap and gown—a time to be acknowledged after years of work.

You can't replace what is lost, and with that comes understandable grief. Here's how to process your feelings of loss, and ultimately use them to help yourself move forward as a dancer.

Keep reading SHOW LESS