American Ballet Theatre principal James Whiteside is known for more than just his uber-charismatic presence on the ballet stage; He doubles as both the drag queen Ühu Betch and the pop star JbDubs. Whiteside's newest musical release, titled WTF, came out last week, and is for sure his most ballet-filled song to date. Both the lyrics and the choreography are jam-packed with bunhead references, from theRose Adagio to Haglund's Heel to a framed portrait of George Balanchine. Not to mention the fact that he and his four backup dancers (Matthew Poppe, Douane Gosa, Maxfield Haynes and Gianni Goffredo) absolutely kill it in pointe shoes.
Hong Kong Ballet is celebrating its 40th anniversary in style. Today, the company releasedthe new phase of its yearlong ad campaign, which includes the below film, a Wes Anderson-esque romp through the city fusing ballet with pop culture,filled with ferry boats, pom pom-wielding grannies and dim sum served in hot pink containers.
Valery Panov and Natalia Makarova in The Sleeping Beauty, via YouTube.
The Soviet Union redefined standards in classical ballet in the 1960s, producing opulent story ballets and dancers with refined, yet daring technique. Dancers like Natalia Makarova and Valery Panov, who were among the leading performers with the Kirov Ballet (now the Mariinsky) at that time, were at the pinnacle of the art form. In this 1964 film of the Kirov's The Sleeping Beauty, Makarova and Panov dancetogether as Princess Florine and the Bluebird. Despite the nostalgic trappings of the soundstage dance film, their strength and intention in this pas de deux make for a timeless performance.
Natalia Makarova as Princess Florine and Valery Panov as the Bluebird ('Sleeping Beauty' 1964)
Like so many little girls, I grew up watching the "four little swans" dance. It always pops up on your YouTube feed if you're a dancer, so I saw lots of different versions. I figured I fit the type—I'm short and like to do petit allégro—so to do it was definitely on my wish list as a professional.
Because everyone's coordination is different, I knew getting four girls to dance in such perfect unison would take a lot of rehearsal. Our ballet mistress, Louise Lester, had us practice the dance in chunks: First we'd walk through each section to synchronize our head movements and get our timing perfect, and then we'd run each part multiple times for stamina. We'd have hour-long rehearsals for a one-minute dance!