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Hurricane Harvey Has Canceled Houston Ballet's Opening Performance—Here's How Dancers Are Working to Rebuild

The recovery process has begun for much of Texas following the destruction of Hurricane Harvey, and that includes the dance community. Earlier this week, Houston Ballet's executive director Jim Nelson and artistic director Stanton Welch released a statement updating us on the company. "We are grateful to be able to share with you that our dancers, artists, and staff are safe, although many have been displaced and otherwise affected by this terrible storm." They then announced some more difficult news, saying, "Our season-opening performances of Poetry in Motion, scheduled for September 8-17, have been unavoidably canceled."

Despite how disappointing it is for the dancers and audience to be missing out, Houston Ballet is hopeful that its North American premiere of Sir Kenneth Macmillan's Mayerling, which is scheduled to begin on September 21, will still take place. And in the meantime, we've been seeing so many acts of kindness to lift everyones' spirits.

HB principal dancer Connor Walsh shared on his Facebook page that he rescued kittens from drowning in his backyard during the storm.


Miami City Ballet made this heartfelt video.


Demi soloist Harper Watters wrote the following message on Instagram. "I've created a fundraiser benefiting the Houston Ballet on my Facebook page. The goal is 1000$. Please join me and the many other people who are galvanized and ready to face the reality of the devastation head on and begin the rebuilding of our beloved Houston. We might be down but we are not defeated. We are strong. We are #houstonstrong. Texas will be back on its feet dancing again."


The Actors Fund and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) provide assistance to and funding for affected arts organizations.

And Stagestep also announced that they will contribute 50% of the cost of its dance floor systems to dance companies, schools and centers trying to rebuild damaged facilities.

Ballet Stars

For many a bunhead, "The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" is not just a holiday tradition, but a rite of passage. The variation, with its tinkling celesta, bourrées and petit battus, is one that all ballet dancers are familiar with, and getting the opportunity to perform it often represents moving into new realms in your training or career. Such was the case for Soviet ballerina Ekaterina Maximova. In this 1957 clip, the 18-year-old aspirant performed the Sugar Plum variation at a ballet competition, where she represented the Bolshoi Ballet Academy.

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Sponsored by Ballet Arizona
Tzu Chia Huang, Courtesy Ballet Arizona

These days, ballet dancers are asked to do more than they ever have—whether that's tackling versatile rep, taking on intense cross-training regimens or managing everything from their Instagram pages to their summer layoff gigs.

Without proper training, these demands can take a toll on both the mind and the body. But students can start preparing for them early—with the right summer intensive program.

The School of Ballet Arizona's summer intensive takes a well-rounded approach to training—not just focusing on technique and facility but nurturing overall dancer growth. "You cannot make a dancer just by screaming at them like they used to," says master ballet teacher Roberto Muñoz, who guests at the program every summer. "You have to take care of the person as well."

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For any young dancer performing in The Nutcracker, Marie (aka Clara, depending on the production) is a dream role. But Charlotte Nebres, who will be playing Marie in New York City Ballet's Nutcracker this year isn't just bringing her own dream to life—she's also making history.

Charlotte is the first black dancer to ever perform the role of Marie in NYCB's production of George Balanchine's The Nutcracker, which dates all the way back to 1954. Charlotte was, of course, hugely excited to perform the role of Marie, but, according to the New York Times, when her mother told her that she was the first black dancer cast in the role, she said "Wow. That seems a little late."

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Courtesy School of Pennsylvania Ballet

While many of us are deep in Nutcracker duties, The School of Pennsylvania Ballet director James Payne has been looking further ahead, finalizing preparations for the school's summer intensive programs. In January, he and his staff will embark on a 24-city audition tour to scour the country for the best young dancers, deciding whether or not to offer them a spot—maybe even a scholarship—in the school's rigorous 5-week intensive focused on high-caliber ballet instruction. Though he'll be evaluating aspirants, he urges that as a student, you should be equally selective in choosing programs that could galvanize your training—and possibly even your career.

We got Payne's advice on strategizing your summer intensive plan before the audition cycle kicks in:

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