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

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

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.

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Complexions Contemporary Ballet's Tatiana Melendez Proves There's No One Way to Have a Ballet Career

This is Pointe's Fall 2020 cover story. Click here to purchase this issue.

Talk to anyone about rising contemporary ballerina Tatiana Melendez, and one word is bound to come up repeatedly: "Fierce." And fair enough, that's a perfectly apt way to describe the 20-year-old's stage presence, her technical prowess and her determination to succeed. But don't make the mistake of assuming that fierceness is Melendez's only (or even her most noteworthy) quality. At the core of her dancing is a beautiful versatility. She's just as much at ease when etching pure classical lines as she is when boldly throwing herself off-balance.

"Selfish choreographer that I am, I want Tatiana to stay with Complexions for all time," says her boss Dwight Rhoden, Complexions Contemporary Ballet's co-artistic director and resident choreographer. "She has a theatricality about her: When the music comes on, she gets swept away." Not too shabby for someone who thought just a few years ago that maybe ballet wasn't for her.

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Erik Tomasson, Courtesy SFB

The Anatomy of Arabesque: Why Placement and Turnout Are Key to Achieving This Crucial Position

Audition for any school or company, and they'll likely ask for a photo in arabesque. The position not only reveals a great deal about a dancer's ability, but it is also a fundamental building block for more advanced movements, like penché or arabesque turn. Beyond technique, it can be the epitome of grace and elegance onstage, creating unforgettable images—just try to imagine Swan Lake or Balanchine's Serenade without an arabesque.

Yet many dancers are unsatisfied with their arabesque lines, and students frequently ask how to improve their extensions. (Social media posts of dancers with extreme flexibility don't help!) In an attempt to lift the back leg higher, dancers may sacrifice placement and unknowingly distort their position in the process. How can you improve the height of your back leg while maintaining proper placement and turnout? We talked to a few experts to better understand the science behind this step.

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#TBT: Gelsey Kirkland and Mikhail Baryshnikov in "Coppélia" (1976)

Gelsey Kirkland and Mikhail Baryshnikov share the unique experience of having danced at both American Ballet Theatre and New York City Ballet during their careers. The two overlapped at ABT in the mid-'70s, where they developed one of the best-known partnerships in ballet. They were both celebrated for their dynamism onstage; however, in this 1976 clip of the pas de deux from Coppélia, Kirkland and Baryshnikov prove they are also masters of control.

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