What better way to celebrate the 4th of July weekend than by revisiting classic ballets that have acted as pillars of American dance? The wider dance world beautifully represents the diversity and complexity of what it means to be American. Unfortunately, ballet's contributions to national identity have historically been pretty narrow, reflecting youth and energy, and not much else.

Contemporary ballets have recently borrowed from classic works of literature and theater, using writing by Earnest Hemmingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Tenessee Williams and Mark Twain to explore more psychologically complex portraits of what it means to be American. Whether or not they have been critical successes, these ballets have proven to be audience favorites, indicating that ballet audiences are ready to see work that includes not just the the sheer exuberance of George Balanchine's Stars and Stripes, but also the melancholy of Septime Webre's The Great Gatsby. Why not, since we have such a rich tradtion of American choreographers to emulate and learn from?

 

Agnes de Mille's 1942 ballet Rodeo and George Balanchine's 1954 ballet Western Symphony celebrate the myth of the wild west.

 

 

The "Rubies" section from George Balanchine's 1967 ballet Jewels demonstrates the jazzy thrill of mid-century New York.

 

 

West Side Story Suite—Jerome Robbins' 1995 re-structuring of West Side Story—and his 1944 ballet Fancy Free explore the hot-headedness of youth.

 

 

George Balanchine's 1958 ballet Stars and Stripes is definitively American in its energy and attack.

 

 

Septime Webre's The Great Gatsby and Annabelle Lopez Ochoa's A Streetcar Named Desire offer new directions for ballet's relationship with American art and identity.


 

 

The Conversation
Sasha De Sola and Carlo Di Lanno in The Sleeping Beauty. Erik Tomasson, Courtesy SFB.

The first time I saw Sleeping Beauty was on video, the Kirov version with Larissa Lezhnina. The music for the first entrance gave me butter- flies. Aurora comes out, and it captured my heart. Larissa coached me for my first sea- son of Aurora, and just the fact that we were sharing the same studio—I couldn't get over it. One of the things she encouraged me to explore is after Aurora faints: You get back up, you look up at your parents and re- center yourself. For me, what feels natural is that you don't want anyone to worry. Maybe there is a moment where you get a little embarrassed. It's those small moments that make it feel very personal to me.

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The Royal Ballet's Vadim Muntagirov and Marianela Nuñez in La Bayadère. Photo by Bill Cooper, Courtesy ROH.

Do you ever wish you could teleport to London and casually stroll into The Royal Opera House to see some of the world's best-loved ballets? Well, we have a solution for you: The Royal Ballet's 2018-19 cinema season.

Whether live or recorded, the seven ballet programs listed below, streaming now through next October, will deliver all of the magic that The Royal Ballet has to offer straight to your local movie theater. Can you smell the popcorn already?

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News
Maria Kochetkova presents Catch Her If You Can at the Joyce Theater this week. Manfredi Gioacchini, Courtesy Joyce Theater.

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

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Ballet Stars
Quinn Wharton

Candy Tong is Complexions Contemporary Ballet's resident fashionista. "I'm known in this company for bringing too big of a suitcase," she says. Tong shares her style tips (and life on the road with Complexions) on her vlog, Candy Coated, and notes that her style is always changing. "I like to switch up my look depending on my mood or where I'm going to be or what city I'm in."

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