Former American Ballet Theatre star Ethan Stiefel will choreograph a new work to complete The Washington Ballet's triple bill in late May. When we first heard about artistic director Julie Kent's 2017 programming, we wondered which choreographer would join the bill alongside Frederick Ashton's The Dream and Antony Tudor's Jardin aux Lilas.

The Washington Post reports that Stiefel's ballet will take inspiration from John F. Kennedy's investment in the U.S. space program and will feature a commissioned score by composer Adam Crystal. The ballet, with the working title Frontier, is set to coincide with the president's centennial.


Stiefel is probably best known to wider audiences for his silver screen role as Cooper Nielson in the 2000 film Center Stage, and for his behind-the-scenes work choreographing the ballet scenes in the Starz TV show "Flesh and Bone," starring Sarah Hay. But ballet fans know he also briefly served as artistic director of the Royal New Zealand Ballet, from 2011 to 2014, where he choreographed Bier Halle and staged Giselle with Johan Kobborg. He has also set work on ABT's Studio Company and the students at ABT's Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School. This new production may offer American fans a chance to refamiliarize themselves with his stage choreography after stints abroad and on TV.

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Ashley Bouder in George Balanchine and Alexandra Danilova's Coppélia. Erin Baiano, Courtesy NYCB.

Hollywood may have the Oscars, but ballet has the Prix de Benois de la Danse. Held every spring at Moscow's Bolshoi Theater, the prestigious international awards ceremony recognizes dancers, choreographers, composers and designers for their extraordinary work on and off the stage. This year's laureates, chosen by a jury, were announced during an awards ceremony last night, followed by a star-studded gala featuring many of the nominated artists.

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American Ballet Theatre principal James Whiteside is known for more than just his uber-charismatic presence on the ballet stage; He doubles as both the drag queen Ühu Betch and the pop star JbDubs. Whiteside's newest musical release, titled WTF, came out last week, and is for sure his most ballet-filled song to date. Both the lyrics and the choreography are jam-packed with bunhead references, from the Rose Adagio to Haglund's Heel to a framed portrait of George Balanchine. Not to mention the fact that he and his four backup dancers (Matthew Poppe, Douane Gosa, Maxfield Haynes and Gianni Goffredo) absolutely kill it in pointe shoes.

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Ballet Stars
Crystal Serrano and Jorge Andrés Villarini in Christopher Wheeldon's This Bitter Earth. Rachel Neville, Courtesy Dance Theatre of Harlem.

Crystal Serrano never envisioned someday joining Dance Theatre of Harlem, the company founded by Arthur Mitchell to show the beauty and uplift of classical ballet on dancers of all colors. Her career began with Sacramento Ballet, which she joined after one year in Pacific Northwest Ballet School's Professional Division, but her time there was cut short by illness. After recovering, she felt so worn down that she left dancing behind and enrolled at the University of Washington. But she soon realized she'd made a mistake. "I thought, what am I doing?" she recalls. "I had to dance." With a fresh perspective and renewed determination, Serrano took an apprenticeship with Oregon Ballet Theatre before landing a job with Ballet San Antonio, where she soon rose to soloist.

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School of American Ballet students (Rosalie O'Connor, courtesy SAB)

Do you have a "Strictly Ballet"–sized hole in your heart? Good news: There's an upcoming docuseries, "On Pointe," that just might fill it.

The School of American Ballet is teaming up with Imagine Documentaries and DCTV for the project. Though it's not yet clear where "On Pointe" will air, we do know that it'll follow talented SAB students preparing for professional ballet careers—much as Teen Vogue's popular "Strictly Ballet" web series did back in the day. But "On Pointe" marks the first time documentary filmmakers have been allowed access to the school, and it sounds like it'll paint an even more complete picture of the dancers' lives inside and outside the studio.

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