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Onstage This Week: Joaquin De Luz's Farewell Performance, Royal Winnipeg Ballet's "The Handmaid's Tale," and More!

Joaquin De Luz in Prodigal Son, one of his most celebrated roles. De Luz retires from New York City Ballet this week. Photo by Paul Kolnik, Courtesy NYCB.

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


NYCB Bids Farewell to Principal Joaquin De Luz

New York City Ballet's fall season continues this week with a return to Jerome Robbins. Then, on October 14, the company celebrates the retirement of principal dancer Joaquin De Luz. A special program includes four prominent works from De Luz's career: George Balanchine's Theme and Variations, Robbins' A Suite of Dances and Peter Martins' Todo Buenos Aires. Also on the program is Balanchine's Concerto Barocco. Above, hear De Luz on Robbins' Prodigal Son, which he'll dance on October 10.

American Contemporary Ballet Opens Their Season with a World Premiere 

American Contemporary Ballet is going all out for Halloween. Their season opener, running October 12-31, includes two works by artistic director Lincoln Jones: Inferno, billed as "an adventure through hell since the 14th century," and the world premiere of Burlesque. Exploring burlesque performance, Jones' newest work features a commissioned score by American composer Charles Wuorinen, who has previously composed for New York City Ballet.

Company Premiere of Macmillan's "Romeo & Juliet" at Pennsylvania Ballet 

Considered to be one of the greatest adaptations of Shakespeare's timeless love story, Sir Kenneth Macmillan's Romeo & Juliet will have its Pennsylvania Ballet company premiere October 11-19 at the Academy of Music. The company has released a number of videos leading up to the premiere; above, principal Lillian DiPiazza shares her thoughts on dancing the role of Juliet.

Orlando Ballet Celebrates Director Robert Hill's 10th Anniversary with "Carmina Burana" 

October 12-14, Orlando Ballet brings back Carmina Burana to celebrate Robert Hill's 10th season as artistic director. With choreography by Hill, Carmina Burana features live vocal performance by 160 singers from the Bach Festival Society of Winter Park; the singers will be onstage behind the dancers. Get a sneak peek in the thrilling trailer above.

Royal Winnipeg Ballet "The Handmaid's Tale" is Back

After five years, The Handmaid's Tale, Lila York's ballet based on Margaret Atwood's beloved dystopian novel of the same name, is back on Royal Winnipeg Ballet stages. This dark dance-drama runs October 10-14 at the Centennial Concert Hall.

Carolina Ballet Celebrates Halloween with "Dracula"

Carolina Ballet is getting into the Halloween spirit. October 11-28, the company presents two extra spooky ballets: Lynne Taylor-Corbett's Dracula, back onstage after four years, and Robert Weiss' The Masque of the Red Death, based on Edgar Allen Poe's famous story. Both works feature original scores played live by a chamber ensemble.

Ballet Training
Kali Kleiman performing at YAGP's New York Finals. VAM Productions, Courtesy YAGP.

As someone who has judged many ballet competitions, I've had the opportunity to see some breathtaking contemporary solos that combine fantastic technique with well-conceived choreography. Yet it's often hard for us judges to see the artistic intention behind these solos the way we can when watching a classical variation. For one thing, we're simply more familiar with classical ballet's repertoire and characters. But also, when a contemporary solo is just a string of one trick after another, or only delivers one emotion (such as overwrought angst), we don't get to see any artistic depth.

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Francisco Estevez, Courtesy Colorado Ballet Academy

When you're looking for a ballet program to take you to the next level, there are a lot of factors to consider. While it's tempting to look for the biggest name that will accept you, the savvy dancer knows that successful training has more to do with the attention and opportunities you'll get.

We put together a few of the most important things for dancers to look for in a summer or year-round training program, with the help of the experts at Colorado Ballet Academy:

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Ballet Stars
Elle Macy in Benjamin Millepied's Appassionata. Angela Sterling, Courtesy PNB.

Cross-training misconceptions: Before Elle Macy became an apprentice with Pacific Northwest Ballet, she was apprehensive about cross-training. "I was warned that it might bulk you, or not to do certain activities because they could potentially injure you." But a stress fracture in her foot changed her perspective. Unable to bear much weight, Macy reluctantly tried stationary biking at her physical therapist's suggestion. "What I learned is that you're not going to get injured from being on an elliptical for 20 minutes or by taking a Pilates class," says Macy. Today, it's not uncommon to find the soloist training on the elliptical, doing ankle stability exercises, using the Pilates reformer or taking a hot yoga class.

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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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