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Bravo to These 8 Hardworking Ballet Dads

With Father's Day just around the corner, we wanted to take a minute to acknowledge some of the dancer dads out there who are doing double duty at home and onstage. So in between feting the father figures in your life this weekend (and thanking them for sitting through countless hours of dance recitals throughout the course of your lives), check out these eight ballet dads below.


Seth Orza - Pacific Northwest Ballet Principal 

Pacific Northwest Ballet principal Seth Orza seems to prepping his six-year-old daughter, Lola, for life on the road. As the child of not one but two PNB principals (Orza is married to Sarah Ricard Orza), Lola explored Paris while on tour with her parents last summer (we love that Orza captioned this shot "Tiny tourist.") And according to Orza's Instagram, father and daughter also share a love of Star Wars; after all, "May the Fourth Be With You" jokes never do get old.

Steven McRae - Royal Ballet Principal 

Steven McRae's Instagram is jam-packed with adorable glimpses of his two children, Audrey Bluebell and Frederick Charles, along with his wife, Royal Ballet soloist Elizabeth McRae. We already knew that McRae was famous for his insane workouts; what we didn't know until now is that his cross-training routine includes his kids (who seem to be having a total blast).

Thomas Forster - American Ballet Theatre Soloist 

From errands to soccer, American Ballet Theatre soloist Thomas Forster and his two-year-old son Ben seem to be true pals. And if this video of Ben with his mom Leann Forster is any indication, Ben might end up following in his parents' footsteps (his toddler arabesque is pretty impressive).

Rex Tilton - Ballet West Principal 

Ajax Tilton, son of Ballet West principal Rex Tilton and first soloist Allison DeBona, is only seven months old, but he's already making a big splash on Instagram. (He shares his account with his family's dog, Zipper). Ajax's age is not stopping him from knowing his way around a studio; he and his dad are clearly the next father/son teaching team to watch.

Ethan Stiefel - Choreographer and Former American Ballet Theatre Principal 

Father's Day is coming at the perfect time for ballet star Ethan Stiefel. His wife, American Ballet Theatre principal Gillian Murphy, gave birth to Ax Nathaniel less than a week ago. And according to Murphy's Instagram post, Ax's name fittingly means "Father of Peace." We can't wait to watch this ABT baby grow up.

Luke Ingham - San Francisco Ballet Principal 

One advantage of being a dancer dad is having a built-in cheerleading squad. San Francisco Ballet principal Luke Ingham and choreographer Danielle Rowe's three-year-old daughter Aggie makes sure that Ingham is pumped up to perform. And the arts are definitely in her future: If not as a dancer, than surely as a singer or percussionist.

Temur Suluashvili - Joffrey Ballet Dancer

Joffrey Ballet dancers Temur Suluashvili and Victoria Jaiani's five-year-old son Maxim seems to have it pretty good. He gets to travel with his parents (with a cool dino backpack no less), and get jumping lessons from his dancing dad. Plus, he already seems pretty comfortable onstage.

Guillaume Côté - National Ballet of Canada Principal

Leo and Emma also have two dancers for parents: Guillaume Côté and Heather Ogden, both principals with National Ballet of Canada. Not only is Emma rocking it in her own tutu and gets to play Juliet to her dad's Romeo, but she got to join him onstage in March for his 20th anniversary performance. As of this point, Leo seems more interested in pancakes and badgers than ballet, but he may come around after all.

Ballet Careers
Sisters Isabella Shaker and Alexandra Pullen. Photo Courtesy Alexandra Pullen.

This is the second in a series of articles this month about ballet siblings.

My mom was in the corps de ballet at American Ballet Theatre. A generation later, so was I. As if that's not enough for one family, my younger sister Isabella Shaker dreams of following in our dancing footsteps. Her endeavor, and her status as somewhat of a child prodigy, stirs feelings of pride and apprehension within me, since I have lived through the ups and downs of this intense yet rewarding career.

Ballet will always be my first love and the thing that brings me the most joy, and my dance career has opened endless opportunities for me. However, it's a difficult career path that requires a lifelong dedication. It's super competitive and can lead to body image issues, physical injury and stress. Most dancers will face some of these problems; I definitely dealt with all three.

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Ballet Stars
Photo by Gabriel Davalos, Courtesy Valdés

For decades the name Alicia Alonso has been virtually synonymous with Ballet Nacional de Cuba, the company she co-founded in Havana in 1948. Alonso died on October 17, just shy of what would have been her 99th birthday. In recent years, she had stepped back from day-to-day decision-making in the company. As if preparing for the future, in January, the company's leading ballerina, 42-year-old Viengsay Valdés, was named deputy director, a job that seems to encompass most of the responsibilities of a traditional director. Now, presumably, she will step into her new role as director of the company. Her debut as curator of the repertory comes in November, when the troupe will perform three mixed bills selected by her at the Gran Teatro de la Habana Alicia Alonso. The following has been translated from a conversation conducted in Spanish, Valdés' native tongue.

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Ballet Stars
Photo by Jayme Thornton

It's National Bullying Prevention Month—and Houston Ballet breakout star Harper Watters is exactly the advocate young dancers facing bullying need. Watters is no novice when it comes to slaying on social media, but his Bullying Prevention Month collaboration with Teen Vogue and Instagram is him at his most raw, speaking about his own experiences with bullies, and how his love of dance helped him to overcome adversity. Watters even penned an incredible op-ed for Teen Vogue's website, where he talks candidly about growing up queer. Catch his amazing anti-bullying video here—and, as Watters says, "Stay fabulous, stay flawless, stay flexible, but most importantly, stay fearless."

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News
Alicia Alonso with Igor Youskevitch. Sedge Leblang, Courtesy Dance Magazine Archives.

Her Dying Swan was as fragile as her Juliet was rebellious; her Odile, scheming, her Swanilda, insouciant. Her Belle was joyous, and her Carmen, both brooding and full-blooded. But there was one role in particular that prompted dance critic Arnold Haskell to ask, "How do you interpret Giselle when you are Giselle?"

At eight, Alicia Alonso took her first ballet class on a stage in her native Cuba, wearing street clothes. Fifteen years later, put in for an ailing Alicia Markova in a performance of Giselle with Ballet Theatre, she staked her claim to that title role.

Alonso received recognition throughout the world for her flawless technique and her ability to become one with the characters she danced, even after she became nearly blind. After a career in New York, she and her then husband Fernando Alonso established the Cuban National Ballet and the Cuban National Ballet School, both of which grew into major international dance powerhouses and beloved institutions in their home country. On October 17, the company announced that, after leading the company for a remarkable 71 years, Alonso died from cardiovascular disease at the age of 98.

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