News

ABT's Lauren Post Gets Ready to Present Her Company Co-Lab Dance—Weeks After Having Her First Baby

Jon Ragel, Courtesy Co-Lab Dance

When American Ballet Theatre corps member Lauren Post started up her summer company, Co-Lab Dance, last year, she was looking for a way for her and her colleagues to keep dancing through ABT's two-month layoff. "The Met season ends and we're all in such great shape," says Post. With the help and encouragement of her mentor, she was able to raise enough money to produce her first season last September.

Those performances were a big success, with sold-out shows and a waiting list for tickets. Now, as Co-Lab Dance prepares to open its second season, Post has expanded on her early momentum with a residency and performance at Kaatsbaan International Arts Center and a bigger theater for the company's New York City shows September 6-7. It's a lot to plan—and was made all the more complicated when Post learned that she was due to have a baby two weeks before opening night. (She gave birth earlier than expected, on August 6, to a beautiful baby girl.)


Danielle Rowe and members of Co-Lab Dance in rehearsal for Rowe's new work Any/Which/Way

Jade Young, Courtesy Co-Lab Dance

"The dates were set before I found out I was pregnant," says Post. "But I guess it's good practice for balancing the rest of my life with kids!" Luckily, she has had the help of two company managers to assist with rehearsals. And this season is ambitious, with three world premieres by choreographers Gemma Bond, Danielle Rowe and Martha Graham Dance Company dancer Xin Ying. The company will also be screening At The Time, a nine-minute film created and choreographed by ABT soloist Cassandra Trenary which stars herself and fellow ABT soloist Calvin Royal III.

Members of Co-Lab Dance rehearse Gemma Bond's new ballet The Ballroom, wearing costumes by Sylvie Rood

Gemma Bond, Courtesy Co-Lab Dance

Post has long collaborated with Bond, a close friend and former ABT dancer, on her choreographic projects. But Ying, who created a work for Co-Lab Dance last season, was initially unfamiliar to her. "I only knew her from Instagram," says Post. Ying is expanding on Almost Ritual, her piece for the company from last year, which will include live music from the Momenta Quartet. Post commissioned Rowe, formerly of Netherlands Dance Theater, after seeing her work at Ballet Sun Valley last year. "I was totally blown away," says Post. "I'm bummed that I won't get to dance in her piece!"

Calvin Royal III and Cassandra Trenary in Trenary's short film At The Time

Stephanie Wessel, Courtesy Co-Lab Dance

Post says that, pregnancy aside, this season has been slightly easier to manage. "I know what to expect this time," she says. "It was very intimidating to start from scratch last year, to raise money, deal with music rights and costuming. As a dancer, you don't think about those things." Another plus: the Kaatsbaan residency gives the company two weeks of concentrated rehearsal time, with two studios to work with. "It's not the same in New York," she says, where small companies often have to patch together a rehearsal schedule with whatever studio space they can find. "Kaatsbaan is so well-respected, so it means a lot to be given a residency there. It helps validate what we're doing."

Post, with newborn baby in tow, makes a visit to rehearsal.

Jade Young, Courtesy Co-Lab Dance

As for her artists, Post has hired many of her ABT colleagues, plus New York Theater Ballet's Erez Ben-Zion Milatin. Eventually she would like to hire more outside dancers. Does Post see an artistic director career in her post-dance future? "Maybe?" she says—but one thing is for certain: "I would love to keep Co-Lab Dance going every summer."

Ballet Careers
Sisters Isabella Shaker and Alexandra Pullen. Photo Courtesy Alexandra Pullen.

This is the second in a series of articles this month about ballet siblings.

My mom was in the corps de ballet at American Ballet Theatre. A generation later, so was I. As if that's not enough for one family, my younger sister Isabella Shaker dreams of following in our dancing footsteps. Her endeavor, and her status as somewhat of a child prodigy, stirs feelings of pride and apprehension within me, since I have lived through the ups and downs of this intense yet rewarding career.

Ballet will always be my first love and the thing that brings me the most joy, and my dance career has opened endless opportunities for me. However, it's a difficult career path that requires a lifelong dedication. It's super competitive and can lead to body image issues, physical injury and stress. Most dancers will face some of these problems; I definitely dealt with all three.

Keep reading... Show less
Ballet Stars
Photo by Gabriel Davalos, Courtesy Valdés

For decades the name Alicia Alonso has been virtually synonymous with Ballet Nacional de Cuba, the company she co-founded in Havana in 1948. Alonso died on October 17, just shy of what would have been her 99th birthday. In recent years, she had stepped back from day-to-day decision-making in the company. As if preparing for the future, in January, the company's leading ballerina, 42-year-old Viengsay Valdés, was named deputy director, a job that seems to encompass most of the responsibilities of a traditional director. Now, presumably, she will step into her new role as director of the company. Her debut as curator of the repertory comes in November, when the troupe will perform three mixed bills selected by her at the Gran Teatro de la Habana Alicia Alonso. The following has been translated from a conversation conducted in Spanish, Valdés' native tongue.

Keep reading... Show less
Ballet Stars
Photo by Jayme Thornton

It's National Bullying Prevention Month—and Houston Ballet breakout star Harper Watters is exactly the advocate young dancers facing bullying need. Watters is no novice when it comes to slaying on social media, but his Bullying Prevention Month collaboration with Teen Vogue and Instagram is him at his most raw, speaking about his own experiences with bullies, and how his love of dance helped him to overcome adversity. Watters even penned an incredible op-ed for Teen Vogue's website, where he talks candidly about growing up queer. Catch his amazing anti-bullying video here—and, as Watters says, "Stay fabulous, stay flawless, stay flexible, but most importantly, stay fearless."

Keep reading... Show less
News
Alicia Alonso with Igor Youskevitch. Sedge Leblang, Courtesy Dance Magazine Archives.

Her Dying Swan was as fragile as her Juliet was rebellious; her Odile, scheming, her Swanilda, insouciant. Her Belle was joyous, and her Carmen, both brooding and full-blooded. But there was one role in particular that prompted dance critic Arnold Haskell to ask, "How do you interpret Giselle when you are Giselle?"

At eight, Alicia Alonso took her first ballet class on a stage in her native Cuba, wearing street clothes. Fifteen years later, put in for an ailing Alicia Markova in a performance of Giselle with Ballet Theatre, she staked her claim to that title role.

Alonso received recognition throughout the world for her flawless technique and her ability to become one with the characters she danced, even after she became nearly blind. After a career in New York, she and her then husband Fernando Alonso established the Cuban National Ballet and the Cuban National Ballet School, both of which grew into major international dance powerhouses and beloved institutions in their home country. On October 17, the company announced that, after leading the company for a remarkable 71 years, Alonso died from cardiovascular disease at the age of 98.

Keep reading... Show less