popular

Benefit Brings Together Dance Stars to Raise Money—and Awareness—for Hurricane Harvey Victims

Houston Ballet's Jared Matthews and Sara Webb in"The Sleeping Beauty." Photo by Amitava Sarkar, Courtesy Houston Ballet.

Despite the devastation and pain that Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have left in their wake this fall, it's been encouraging to see dancers step up in aid of their communities: When the future of Houston Ballet's Nutcracker seemed uncertain, venues around the city pulled together to allow the company to produce the show on a "hometown tour." And when Florida ballet companies had to evacuate, Atlanta Ballet and Charlotte Ballet welcomed them with open arms. In addition, New York City-based studio Broadway Dance Center offered community classes in September with proceeds donated to the American Red Cross.

The next in this series of good deeds is Hearts for Houston, a benefit performance bringing dancers from seven major companies together at New York City's Alvin Ailey Citigroup Theater to raise money for the United Way of Greater Houston's Harvey Relief Fund. Scheduled for Sunday, October 22, the evening will feature members of the Houston Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet, Texas Ballet Theater, The Washington Ballet and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Hearts for Houston is imagined and produced by Houston Ballet principal dancers Yuriko Kajiya and Jared Matthews (both formerly of ABT) and funded by patrons Phoebe and Bobby Tudor and sponsor Neiman Marcus.



The Hearts for Houston Instagram page has been releasing the program over the past week, and so far it looks like a pretty powerful lineup.

The benefit will feature a world premiere by Texas Ballet Theater director and former Houston Ballet artistic director Ben Stevenson O.B.E., titled Martinů Pieces. TBT dancers Carolyn Judson and Alexander Kotelenets will dance the second movement, "Harvey," inspired by the affect of the storm on Stevenson's friends in Houston. Houston Ballet principals Sara Webb and Jared Matthews will dance the La Bayadère Act I pas de deux, and Yuriko Kajiya and Connor Walsh will dance the Madame Butterfly pas de deux choreographed by Stanton Welch. Companies outside of Texas include The Washington Ballet in Alexei Ratmansky's Bolero and Pennsylvania Ballet principals Arian Molina Soca and Mayara Pineiro in the Don Quixote pas de deux. Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater dancers Ashley Mayeux and Sean Aaron Carmon (both Texas natives) will dance "Fix Me, Jesus" from Revelations, and AAADT's Kanji Segawa will perform artistic director Robert Battle's Takademe. Another Ailey dancer, Jacquelin Harris, will be joined by NYCB's Ask La Cour in Christopher Wheeldon's touching (and aptly named) pas de deux, After the Rain. Hearts for Houston has also teased that NYCB's Daniel Ulbricht (no stranger to benefits as the director of the annual Dance Against Cancer) and ABT's Daniil Simkin will be involved, though what they'll be dancing has yet to be announced.

Tickets range from $150-$500. One hundred percent of funds raised will be donated directly to the cause, helping individuals and families with otherwise unmet relief needs including home repair and case management. VIP tickets also include a pre-show reception with a Dance Talk/Demonstration by former NYCB star Merrill Ashley, and Premium Access tickets include entry to the tech rehearsals and a backstage post-show toast. It's heartwarming to see this outpouring of support from the dance community, and we're sure the combined star power of this group of dancers will bring Houston one step closer to recovery.

Larke Johnson in rehearsal. Courtesy The Joffrey Ballet

Marie and Franz have a new guest at their Christmas Eve party this year. Emma Lookatch and Larke Johnson, both dancers in the Adaptive Dance Program at Joffrey Academy of Dance: Official School of The Joffrey Ballet, are alternating in the new role of Worker Girl. It is a permanent part created specifically for students with disabilities in Christopher Wheeldon's version of The Nutcracker at The Joffrey Ballet.

Keep reading... Show less
Francisco Estevez, Courtesy Colorado Ballet Academy

When you're looking for a ballet program to take you to the next level, there are a lot of factors to consider. While it's tempting to look for the biggest name that will accept you, the savvy dancer knows that successful training has more to do with the attention and opportunities you'll get.

We put together a few of the most important things for dancers to look for in a summer or year-round training program, with the help of the experts at Colorado Ballet Academy:

Keep reading... Show less
Ballet Training
Ballet Austin Academy students practice priouette en dehors. Annie Marie Bloodgood, Courtesy Ballet Austin.

Michelle Martin, associate artistic director of Ballet Austin, says that pirouettes en dehors from fourth position allongé are full of "traps" for dancers. Whether you trained with a straight back leg or have never tried it before, Martin's analytical breakdown will help you master this basic but dazzling turn.

Keep reading... Show less
Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy US Prix de Ballet

The US Prix de Ballet is taking an unconventional approach to the ballet competition—by putting the competitors' health first. After a successful first year in 2018, the Prix is returning to San Diego, CA this February with an even more comprehensive lineup of wellness workshops and master classes, in addition, of course, to the high-level competition.

Though the talent is top-notch, the environment is friendly, says HARID Conservatory faculty member Victoria Schneider, who serves on US Prix de Ballet's elite panel of judges. "The wellbeing of the dancer is the main focus," says Schneider, who awarded three scholarships to HARID at last year's competition.

US Prix de Ballet was born after its founders traveled to the Japan Grand Prix International Ballet Competition in 2016. "The company ran every aspect of the competition with professionalism, dignity, honor and precision," says founder Neisha Hernandez. "We knew we wanted this level of experience for America."

Keep reading... Show less