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Follow Friday: Celebrity Dance Coach Kurt Froman's Instagram Gives Us Access to Hidden NYCB Gems

Photo via @KurtFroman on Instagram.

Former New York City Ballet dancer Kurt Froman is best known for training celebrities such as Jennifer Lawrence for dance roles on film. Yet Froman's Instagram has become our newest obsession for a whole other reason. Over the past few months, Froman has been posting rarely-seen clips of old NYCB rehearsal and performance videos. These videos feature Balanchine dancers from the early days, such as Suzanne Farrell, Arthur Mitchell, Karin von Aroldingen, Allegra Kent and Jacques d'Amboise as well as recently retired stars like Damian Woetzel, Darci Kistler, Peter Boal, Wendy Whelan and Lourdes Lopez. The videos are majority of works by Balanchine and Jerome Robbins (often in honor of his centennial this year), mixed in with a few television features on Balanchine.

If, like us, you're prone to geeking out over ballet history, you might want to set aside the rest of your afternoon (ahem, week) to dive in. We've posted some of our favorites below.

Allegra Kent and Jacques d'Amboise in Balanchine's A Midsummer Night's Dream, early 1960s.



Merrill Ashley in Balanchine's Stars and Stripes,1984.


Kay Mazzo, Karin von Aroldingen and Suzie Hendl in Balanchine's Serenade.


Robbins rehearsing his Goldberg Variations.


Suzanne Farrell and Chris d'Amboise in Balanchine's Slaughter on Tenth Avenue,1985.


Wendy Whelan and Albert Evans in Balanchine's Symphony in 3 Movements, 1996.


Darci Kistler and Carlo Merlo in Robbins' The Concert, 1990.

Ballet Careers
Gray Davis with wife, ABT soloist Cassandra Trenary, after his graduation from the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy. Courtesy Trenary.

When Gray Davis retired from American Ballet Theatre in July of 2018, he moved home to South Carolina, unsure of what would come next. Last month, just over a year later, Davis graduated from the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy. Today, he's working as a deputy for the Abbeville County Sheriff's Office.

Though Davis danced in ABT's corps for 11 years and is married to soloist Cassandra Trenary, to many he's best known for saving the life of a man who was pushed onto the subway tracks in New York City in 2017. The heroic effort earned him the New York State Liberty Medal, the highest civilian honor bestowed by a member of the New York State Senate. We caught up with Davis to hear about how the split second decision he made in the subway affected the course of his life, what it's been like starting a second career and what he sees as the similarities between ballet and law enforcement.

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Sponsored by BLOCH
Courtesy BLOCH

Today's ballet dancer needs a lot from a pointe shoe. "What I did 20 years ago is not what these dancers are doing now," says New York City Ballet shoe manager Linnette Roe. "They are expected to go harder, longer days. They are expected to go from sneakers, to pointe shoes, to character shoes, to barefoot and back to pointe shoes all in a day."

The team at BLOCH developed their line of Stretch Pointe shoes to address dancer's most common complaints about the fit and performance of their pointe shoes. "It's a scientific take on the pointe shoe," says Roe. Dancers are taking notice and Stretch Pointe shoes are now worn by stars like American Ballet Theatre principal Isabella Boylston, who stars in BLOCH's latest campaign for the shoes.

We dug into the details of Stretch Pointe's most game-changing features:

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Megan Amanda Ehrlich, Courtesy LEAP Program

Claire Sheridan wanted to change the status quo. Leading up to the 1990s, she recalls, "there was a 'shut up and dance' mind-set," and as the founder of the dance program at St. Mary's College of California and a longtime teacher in professional companies, she had seen too many dancers retire with no plan for a successful career transition. "At that time, if you thought about education and the future," she says, "you were not a committed dancer. I wanted to fight that."

With the support of St. Mary's, Sheridan developed the Liberal Education for Arts Professionals program, or LEAP, an innovative liberal-arts bachelor's degree program designed especially for professional dancers. She first presented her idea to executives at San Francisco Ballet. "Kudos to that company, because they said, 'This is great,'" she says. "Eleven of the first 18 dancers who started in August 1999 were from SFB."

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I'm a college freshman, and my dance program isn't challenging enough. We only have ballet three times a week and a few hours of modern, and my classmates aren't as dedicated as I am. There's a small dance company nearby, where I was hoping to take extra classes, but I don't have a car. I want to transfer, but I feel like I won't be in good enough shape for auditions. —Tara

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