“When a ballerina can move with sharpness and attack as well as lyricism, her dancing becomes far more powerful.” —Allyssa Bross

Jazz dance was Allyssa Bross’s first love. “I started studying it at a small studio, and by the time I was 5 I was competing in jazz pieces,” says the Los Angeles Ballet principal, who grew up in Charlotte, North Carolina. “I was only taking ballet classes a couple of times a week, but jazz was every day. I loved that it was so bold and high-energy.”

As a teenager, she was bitten by the ballet bug. She began training at the North Carolina Dance Theatre School of Dance—and watching NCDT company members rehearse contemporary works by Alonzo King and Dwight Rhoden. “Sitting in on company rehearsals, something clicked,” she remembers. “A lot of the choreography had a hard, jazzy edge to it, and I realized that I would be able to use jazz to make my ballet performances better. Ballet was teaching me discipline, but jazz had already taught me how to be free onstage.”

Today, L.A. Ballet’s schedule makes it difficult for Bross to squeeze in more than the occasional jazz class. But she’s still in touch with her jazzy side. “We’re doing works by Sonya Tayeh and Mandy Moore, choreographers who’ve made jazz and contemporary pieces for ‘So You Think You Can Dance,’” she says. “They want parallel positions, they want hard-hitting movement. It can be difficult for ballet dancers to make that switch, but it all feels familiar to me.” 

popular
Getty Images

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.'"

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored by BLOCH
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:

Keep reading... Show less
News
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.

Keep reading... Show less
News
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.

Keep reading... Show less