Courtesy Joseph Gatti

Joseph Gatti Is Starting His Own Summer Company Prioritizing Dancers' Health

Class, rehearse, perform, repeat—a typical day at a ballet company follows the same routine week after week. It's a relentless cycle that Joseph Gatti, a former principal with Cincinnati Ballet and Corella Ballet and first soloist with Boston Ballet, thinks has a negative impact on professional dancers' longevity and performance quality. Now, Gatti—who has had an extensive international freelance career in recent years— is founding his own company in Orlando with a distinct focus on maintaining dancer health and wellness. Called United Ballet Theatre, the company will treat its dancers as athletes, building time within the workday for cross-training and personalized medical care, and alternating days of rehearsal intensity.

Gatti plans to start small as he builds support. For now, the company will employ between 8–10 dancers (including Gatti), as well as a handful of world-renowned guest artists. UBT will also operate during the summer months. "It's mainly for dancers on layoff who want to continue dancing, so that they can get consistent pay and work with great teachers and physical therapists," says Gatti. Artistic staff includes Vadim Fedotov, Irina Depler, Stanislav Fečo, Orlando Molina and Lasha Khozashvili. Repertoire and performance dates are yet to be confirmed, although Gatti hopes to bring in new contemporary works and condensed full-lengths, like Fedotov's Romeo and Juliet.




Gatti started questioning how ballet companies manage artists' health and work schedules after sustaining a serious foot injury two years ago. Usually, dancers' days consist of learning choreography and performing run-throughs; medical care and cross-training are done on their own time. Yet Gatti's freelance career gave him the opportunity to explore better models for managing ballet's physical demands. "I've tried to be very consistent with taking class and going to the gym," he says. "I actually had time to do that because I wasn't rehearsing 8 hours a day."

UBT dancers will likewise have more variety in their schedules: A heavier rehearsal day will be followed by a day of light rehearsals, cross-training and medical care. "I would be giving them time to work with personal trainers, swim, to do things that are important to dancers to create longer, healthier careers," says Gatti. His staff includes top dance-medicine professionals, such as Heather Southwick, head of physical therapy at Boston Ballet; Jacqueline Haas, an athletic trainer for Cincinnati Ballet; and Jaime Diaz, a teacher and certified personal trainer for San Francisco Ballet School.

UBT will share studio space with the Russian Ballet of Orlando, and Gatti is is currently in negotiations to book a theater. Auditions announcements are forthcoming. For now, he and executive director James Boyd are focused on securing funding. When asked if he thought Orlando could support two professional companies (the other being Orlando Ballet), Gatti felt confident it could, especially since UBT will be in season during OB's off-season. "The structure of UBT will empower our dancers to perform at their absolute best and that will positively impact the quality of our viewing audience."

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A Letter from the Editor in Chief

Hi Everyone,

These are challenging times. The social distancing measures brought about by COVID-19 has likely meant that your regular ballet training has been interrupted, while your performances, competitions—even auditions—have been cancelled. You may be feeling anxious about what the future holds, not only for you but for the dance industry. And that's perfectly understandable.

As you adjust to taking virtual ballet class from your living rooms, we here at Pointe are adjusting to working remotely from our living rooms. We've had to get a little creative, especially as we put our Summer Issue together, but like you we're taking full advantage of modern technology. Sure, it's a little inconvenient sometimes, but we're finding our groove.

And we know that you will, too. We've been utterly inspired by how the dance community has rallied together, from ballet stars giving online classes to companies streaming their performances to the flood of artist resources popping up. We've loved watching you dance from your kitchens. And we want to help keep this spirit alive. That's why Pointe and all of our Dance Media sister publications are working nonstop to produce and cross-post stories to help you navigate this crisis. We're all in this together.

We also want to hear from you! Send us a message on social media, or email me directly at abrandt@dancemedia.com. Tell us how you're doing, send us your ideas and show us your dance moves. Let the collective love we share for our beloved art form spark the light at the end of the tunnel—we will come out the other side soon enough.

Best wishes,

Amy

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