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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.

The Conversation
Ballet Stars
Angela Sterling, Courtesy PNB

Your teacher at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, Marcia Dale Weary, recently passed away. What impact did she have on you?

I feel deeply indebted to her. She shaped my life's course, and I know that were it not for her, I would not be living out my dream today. She led by example through her remarkable commitment to her work, as well as her genuine kindness and generosity.

You were a trainee with San Francisco Ballet. What was that experience like?

It was an exposure to different schools of thought. We were mostly in the full-lengths, and watching run-throughs of Sleeping Beauty and Don Quixote was revolutionary for me. But I was young and far away from home. That transition was hard. My body started changing. It wanted to be fleshy. Biology is cruel in that way. I desperately wanted to fit in, but it wasn't meant to be.

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The Royal Ballet's Vadim Muntagirov and Marianela Nuñez in La Bayadère. Photo by Bill Cooper, Courtesy ROH.

Do you ever wish you could teleport to London and casually stroll into The Royal Opera House to see some of the world's best-loved ballets? Well, we have a solution for you: The Royal Ballet's 2018-19 cinema season.

Whether live or recorded, the seven ballet programs listed below, streaming now through next October, will deliver all of the magic that The Royal Ballet has to offer straight to your local movie theater. Can you smell the popcorn already?

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Site Network
Left: Misa Kuranaga in The Veritginous Thrill of Exactitude. Gene Schiavone, Courtesy Boston Ballet. Right: Sasha Mukhamedov in Apollo. Altin Kaftira, Courtesy Dutch National Ballet.

San Francisco Ballet just announced some major news: longtime Boston Ballet star Misa Kuranaga will be joining the company as a principal dancer for the 2019-20 season, while Dutch National Ballet principal Sasha Mukhamedov has been hired as a soloist. They join a slew of newly promoted SFB principals and soloists, announced earlier this year.

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Ballet Stars
Xiao Nan Yu in company class. Aaron Vincent, Courtesy National Ballet of Canada.

On June 22, National Ballet of Canada principal Xiao Nan Yu will retire from the stage after 22 years with the company. Originally from Dalian, China, Yu studied at the Shen Yang School of Dance and the Beijing Dance Academy before coming to Canada's National Ballet School at age 17. She joined the National Ballet of Canada less than two years later, and was promoted to principal in 2001.

"She is a supreme dance actress with an innate ability to bring the audience into her world," says NBoC artistic director Karen Kain. "Nan has always brought such a calm confidence into the studio and has been a role model for so many dancers I will miss her generosity both inside the studio and out." We spoke with Yu as she prepared for her final week of performances. She opened up about her initial culture shock upon moving to Toronto, her thoughts on artistry and why she chose Hanna Glawari in The Merry Widow as her final role.

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