My first summer in New York I was 17, training at The Joffrey's summer intensive and spending my spare time taking extra classes at Steps, with jazz master Luigi, and at ABT (which, in it's pre-JKO days, offered an amazing daily open class). I was also seeing as much ballet as I could squeeze out of my limited allowance.

 

One night, my roommate Ali and I decided to get standing room tickets to ABT's Le Corsaire at the Met. It was about 45 minutes before curtain, our apartment was on the other side of Central Park and our feet were covered in blisters. We ran. Tourists laughed at the sight of two bunheads sprinting, the horse-carriage drivers kept calling out to us, jokingly asking if we needed a lift. We reached the lobby, sweaty and breathless, with less than five minutes to spare, only to find that every ticket under $100 was already sold. Crestfallen, we walked away, but the box office worker called us back. He had two press seats in orchestra center that were going unused, and he handed them to us for free.

 

That night, for the first time, I got to see Angel Corella dance. It was literally jaw-dropping. Those jumps were just so high. I couldn't figure out how exactly he managed to seemingly defy gravity. And I will never forget his seven priouettes that he finished by gradually slowing down to a halt in relevé, holding it for a second, letting the audience go crazy, then closing to fifth with complete control. I'd never known that a body could even do that—and with charisma! For me, seeing Corella dance blew open the possibilities of what ballet could be.

 

Yesterday I received a press release that Corella will retire as a principal dancer with ABT this season. His final performance is scheduled for June 28, dancing Prince Siegfried opposite Paloma Herrera's Odette/Odile in Swan Lake. Although he will continue his career as artistic director and principal dancer with Barcelona Ballet, he will be sorely missed in New York. ABT has many other great male dancers, but none hold the same place in my heart as Angel Corella.

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During one of Charlotte Nash's first few weeks with Houston Ballet II, she was thrown into a run-through of Balanchine's Theme and Variations. "I had never really understudied before and I didn't know what I was doing," she says. "I fell right away and was quickly replaced." For Nash, now a dancer with Festival Ballet Providence, the episode was a tough lesson. "I was mortified, but then I said to myself, 'Okay, I need to figure out how to learn things more quickly.'"

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Courtesy BLOCH

Today's ballet dancer needs a lot from a pointe shoe. "What I did 20 years ago is not what these dancers are doing now," says New York City Ballet shoe manager Linnette Roe. "They are expected to go harder, longer days. They are expected to go from sneakers, to pointe shoes, to character shoes, to barefoot and back to pointe shoes all in a day."

The team at BLOCH developed their line of Stretch Pointe shoes to address dancer's most common complaints about the fit and performance of their pointe shoes. "It's a scientific take on the pointe shoe," says Roe. Dancers are taking notice and Stretch Pointe shoes are now worn by stars like American Ballet Theatre principal Isabella Boylston, who stars in BLOCH's latest campaign for the shoes.

We dug into the details of Stretch Pointe's most game-changing features:

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The Joffrey Ballet's Amanda Assucena and Greig Matthews in Cathy Marston's Jane Eyre. Cheryl Mann, Courtesy Joffrey Ballet.

Wonder what's going on in ballet this week? We've rounded up some highlights.

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Herman Cornejo in Don Quixote. Gene Schiavone, Courtesy ABT.

American Ballet Theatre's fall season at Lincoln Center's Koch Theater offers a chance to see the company in shorter works and mixed-repertoire programs. This year's October 16–27 run honors principal Herman Cornejo, who's celebrating his 20th anniversary with the company. Cornejo will be featured in a special celebratory program as well as a new work by Twyla Tharp (her 17th for the company), set to Johannes Brahms' String Quartet No. 2 in G Major, Op. 111. The October 26 program will include Cornejo in a pas de deux with his sister, former ABT dancer Erica Cornejo.

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