Call Board: Ballet All Over

"Ballerinas are always trying to dance like swans,” says New York City Ballet legend Allegra Kent. “Swan Lake, The Dying Swan. I thought to myself, What if a swan decided to become a ballerina?”

Out of that felicitous idea grew Kent’s charming new children’s book, Ballerina Swan, published by Holiday House, which follows swan heroine Sophie as she struggles to master ballet technique. “Initially not everyone accepts Sophie because of her feathered appearance, and her wings make port de bras difficult,” Kent says. “But her beautiful long neck is an asset—and when she does a grand jeté, she’s the only one of the students who can actually fly!”

Kent, who dedicated the book in part to “George Balanchine, who understood unusual casting,” says she and Sophie have some similarities. “The way we both began—I remember my first classes being so hard, and thinking: I don’t know anything, I don’t know what I’m doing!” she says. “Of course, Sophie’s first class feels the same way. And Sophie and I both persisted anyway." She laughs. "I think we have the same exuberance. I hope so!" —MF


Latest Posts

Left to right: Dance Theatre of Harlem's Daphne Lee, Amanda Smith, Lindsey Donnell and Alexandra Hutchinson in a scene from Dancing Through Harlem. Derek Brockington, Courtesy Dance Theatre of Harlem

Dancers Share Their Key Takeaways After a Year of Dancing on Film

Creating dances specifically for film has become one of the most effective ways that ballet companies have connected with audiences and kept dancers employed during the pandemic. Around the world, dance organizations are finding opportunities through digital seasons, whether conceiving cinematic, site-specific pieces or filming works within a traditional theater. And while there is a consistent sentiment that nothing will ever substitute the thrill of a live show, dancers are embracing this new way of performing.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

#TBT: Mikhail Baryshnikov in "Fancy Free" (1981)

In Jerome Robbins's 1944 ballet Fancy Free, three sailors on leave spend the day at a bar, attempting to woo two young women by out-dancing and out-charming one another. In this clip from 1981, Mikhail Baryshnikov, who was then both the artistic director of American Ballet Theatre and a leading performer with the company, pulls out all the stops to win the ladies' affections.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Bethany Kirby, Courtesy Tulsa Ballet

An Infectious-Disease Physician on What Vaccines Mean for Ballet

As the coronavirus pandemic grinds into its second year, the toll on ballet companies—and dancers—has been steep. How long before dancers can rehearse and perform as they once did?

Like most things, the return to normal for ballet seems to hinge on vaccinations. Just over 22 percent of people in the U.S. are now vaccinated, a way from the estimated 70 to 85 percent experts believe can bring back something similar to pre-pandemic life.

But what would it mean for 100 percent of a ballet company to be vaccinated? Tulsa Ballet artistic director Marcello Angelini is about to find out—and hopes it brings the return of big ballets on the big stage.

"I don't think companies like ours can survive doing work for eight dancers in masks," Angelini says. "If we want to work, dance, and be in front of an audience consistently and with the large works that pay the bills, immunization is the only road that leads there."

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks