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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 Careers
Gray Davis with wife, ABT soloist Cassandra Trenary, after his graduation from the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy. Courtesy Trenary.

When Gray Davis retired from American Ballet Theatre in July of 2018, he moved home to South Carolina, unsure of what would come next. Last month, just over a year later, Davis graduated from the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy. Today, he's working as a deputy for the Abbeville County Sheriff's Office.

Though Davis danced in ABT's corps for 11 years and is married to soloist Cassandra Trenary, to many he's best known for saving the life of a man who was pushed onto the subway tracks in New York City in 2017. The heroic effort earned him the New York State Liberty Medal, the highest civilian honor bestowed by a member of the New York State Senate. We caught up with Davis to hear about how the split second decision he made in the subway affected the course of his life, what it's been like starting a second career and what he sees as the similarities between ballet and law enforcement.

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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:

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Ballet Stars
Megan Amanda Ehrlich, Courtesy LEAP Program

Claire Sheridan wanted to change the status quo. Leading up to the 1990s, she recalls, "there was a 'shut up and dance' mind-set," and as the founder of the dance program at St. Mary's College of California and a longtime teacher in professional companies, she had seen too many dancers retire with no plan for a successful career transition. "At that time, if you thought about education and the future," she says, "you were not a committed dancer. I wanted to fight that."

With the support of St. Mary's, Sheridan developed the Liberal Education for Arts Professionals program, or LEAP, an innovative liberal-arts bachelor's degree program designed especially for professional dancers. She first presented her idea to executives at San Francisco Ballet. "Kudos to that company, because they said, 'This is great,'" she says. "Eleven of the first 18 dancers who started in August 1999 were from SFB."

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Ballet Training
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I'm a college freshman, and my dance program isn't challenging enough. We only have ballet three times a week and a few hours of modern, and my classmates aren't as dedicated as I am. There's a small dance company nearby, where I was hoping to take extra classes, but I don't have a car. I want to transfer, but I feel like I won't be in good enough shape for auditions. —Tara

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