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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
Lenai Alexis Wilkerson. Christopher Duggan, Courtesy Michelle Tabnick Public Relations.

This is one of a series of stories on recent graduates' on-campus experiences—and the connections they made that jump-started their dance careers. Lenai Alexis Wilkerson graduated from University of Southern California with a BFA in dance (dance performance concentration) and a political science minor in 2019.

As Lenai Alexis Wilkerson looked at colleges, she wanted a school that would prepare her for two totally different professions: dancing and law. "I knew, pretty much when I was 16, that I wanted to go to law school," she says. "So I wanted the opportunity to have a dual college experience, where I could have a conservatory training style within a university and I could focus equally on my academics." When she auditioned for the inaugural class of University of Southern California's Glorya Kaufman School of Dance, she knew it was the right fit.

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Sponsored by Ballet Arizona
Tzu Chia Huang, Courtesy Ballet Arizona

These days, ballet dancers are asked to do more than they ever have—whether that's tackling versatile rep, taking on intense cross-training regimens or managing everything from their Instagram pages to their summer layoff gigs.

Without proper training, these demands can take a toll on both the mind and the body. But students can start preparing for them early—with the right summer intensive program.

The School of Ballet Arizona's summer intensive takes a well-rounded approach to training—not just focusing on technique and facility but nurturing overall dancer growth. "You cannot make a dancer just by screaming at them like they used to," says master ballet teacher Roberto Muñoz, who guests at the program every summer. "You have to take care of the person as well."

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News
Nicolas Pelletier in Carmina Burana. Francisco Estevez, Courtesy Colorado Ballet.

Last week, Colorado Ballet interrupted Nutcracker rehearsals for an exciting announcement: Four dancers were being promoted. Though all made the jump from the company's corps de ballet, Nicolas Pelletier ascended directly to the rank of soloist, while Sean Omandam, Emily Speed and Melissa Zoebisch were promoted to demi-soloist. This news comes hot on the heels of last August's promotion of Francisco Estevez to principal.

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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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