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Onstage This Week: Stars of American Ballet at Jacob's Pillow Finale, United Ballet Theatre Makes Company Debut, and More!

Joseph Gatti in class. His new company, United Ballet Theatre, makes its debut this week. Photo by Israel Zavaleta, Courtesy UBT.

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


Stars of American Ballet Closes Jacob's Pillow Season with an All-Robbins Program

Summer's winding down, and with it some of the dance world's most beloved festivals. This week marks the close of the 2018 Jacob's Pillow season, and they're going out with a bang with Stars of American Ballet. Led by New York City Ballet principal Daniel Ulbricht, this collaborative of NYCB dancers including Anthony Huxley, Teresa Reichlen and Gonzalo Garcia brings a program celebrating Jerome Robbins' centennial to the Pillow's hallowed Ted Shawn Theatre August 22-26. They'll present some of Robbins' small-cast masterpieces including Suite of Dances, Interplay, Concertino and more.

United Ballet Theatre Makes Its Company Debut

Last winter, Joseph Gatti announced that he was founding United Ballet Theatre, a new summer company prioritizing dancers' health based in Orlando, Florida. On August 26 at 3 pm, UBT makes its debut. The performance, held at the Dr. Phillips Center's Walt Disney Theater, looks almost like a gala. Titled The Athletes of Art, the program boasts an all-star group of dancers including Marcelo Gomes, Dusty Button, Stella Abrera and Gatti himself in works by Gomes, Christopher Wheeldon and George Balanchine, among others.

Texas Ballet Theater Opens Their Season with "Cinderella"

Texas Ballet Theater opens their 2018/2019 season on August 24 with a run of Cinderella, choreographed by TBT artistic director Ben Stevenson, O.B.E., at the Winspear Opera House in Dallas. Set to Sergei Prokofiev's dramatic score, this production promises spells, pumpkins and stepsisters galore. TBT has put out a series of reality TV-inspired videos, placing Cinderella and her stepsisters in offstage locations. Above, they see if the shoe fits. Follow TBT on Instagram for more.

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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Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy US Prix de Ballet

The US Prix de Ballet is taking an unconventional approach to the ballet competition—by putting the competitors' health first. After a successful first year in 2018, the Prix is returning to San Diego, CA this February with an even more comprehensive lineup of wellness workshops and master classes, in addition, of course, to the high-level competition.

Though the talent is top-notch, the environment is friendly, says HARID Conservatory faculty member Victoria Schneider, who serves on US Prix de Ballet's elite panel of judges. "The wellbeing of the dancer is the main focus," says Schneider, who awarded three scholarships to HARID at last year's competition.

US Prix de Ballet was born after its founders traveled to the Japan Grand Prix International Ballet Competition in 2016. "The company ran every aspect of the competition with professionalism, dignity, honor and precision," says founder Neisha Hernandez. "We knew we wanted this level of experience for America."

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