“In salsa, you can be totally spontaneous. It’s a chance to let go and express whatever the music makes you feel.” —Katia Carranza

Katia Carranza heard salsa music constantly while growing up in Mexico. But it wasn’t until she began dating Luis Serrano, a Cuban dancer who now directs Ballet de Monterrey, that she actually learned to dance salsa. “When Luis and I first started hanging out, we’d go out on dates to salsa clubs,” says Carranza, a principal with Miami City Ballet and Ballet de Monterrey. “I loved the rhythm and how different it was from ballet.”

Now the couple, who have since married, salsa most weekends. “Every party, every get-together, and out at clubs: we salsa,” she says. “Even if we just throw a barbecue at home, by an hour into it everybody’s dancing.”

Carranza says learning salsa has given her ballet technique more musicality and spice. “Salsa helps you feel rhythms of the music all through your body,” she says. “And it helps you find your hips and shoulders. You barely move them in classical ballet, but many choreographers today want you to be able use them.”

She’s also learned from salsa’s approach to partnering. “In salsa, you have to let the guy move you and lead you. In a ballet pas de deux, it’s the same thing—it’s very important that the girl wait for her partner to guide her. As ballet dancers we want to be in control all the time, but we have to learn to trust our partners completely.”

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The Washington Ballet's NEXTsteps program opens this week. Here are company dancers Ashley Murphy-Wilson and Alexandros Papajohn. Procopio Photography, Courtesy The Washington Ballet.

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

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Courtesy Apolla

Ballet dancers today are asked to do more with their bodies than ever before. The physical demands of a ballet career can take an immense toll on a dancer's joints and muscles—subjecting them to pain, inflammation and an increased risk of injury. Considering all that is required of today's dancers, having a top-notch recovery regime is paramount.

Enter Apolla Performance Wear, which is meeting ballet's physical demands with a line of compression footwear that is speeding up the recovery process for professional dancers by reducing inflammation and stabilizing the joints.

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Ballet West in rehearsal for Le Chant du Rossignol. Beau Pearson, Courtesy Ballet West.

Ballet West opens its season October 25–November 2 with a triptych of works from George Balanchine's early choreographic career with Sergei Diaghilev's Ballets Russes. Highlighting the program is Balanchine's 1925 The Song of the Nightingale (Le Chant du Rossignol), never before seen in the U.S. This ballet is not only the first piece that a then-21-year-old Balanchine made for the Ballets Russes; it also marks his first collaboration with Igor Stravinsky, and features costumes by Henri Matisse. To bring it to Salt Lake City, Ballet West is working closely with Millicent Hodson and Kenneth Archer, who reconstructed the work for Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo in 1999.

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Stella Abrera in Le Corsaire. Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy ABT.

American Ballet Theatre announced today that, after 24 years, beloved principal dancer Stella Abrera will retire from the stage this coming summer. Her farewell performance will be June 13, 2020, at the Metropolitan Opera House, dancing the title role in Giselle.

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