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One Mom's Letter of Gratitude to the Ballet World

To everyone in the ballet world,

Bravo. And thank you for keeping ballet alive and well as we navigate this pandemic. We are taking your online classes. Our children are still training every week. We've watched every video you've made this month. We have joined the live Zoom calls to keep connected. We are thrilled and inspired by the previous performances you've posted online. Your emails are reminding us that you still need us, and this letter is letting you know that we still need you, too. The world needs the beauty and healing and artistry of ballet. We need the stories you're passing on from generation to generation, and we look forward to the artistry that emerges from this difficult season of COVID-19.


Teachers, thank you for navigating online ballet classes. Thank you for your creativity and your corrections. Thank you for your encouragement and commitment to your students. Your symbiotic relationship is evident more than ever. We see you trying to keep a 4-year-old's attention. We see you giving pre-pointe exercises to girls, hoping they'll still get to be on pointe this year. We see you training our pre-pro daughters and sons hoping for a contract. You are what our children are waking up for right now. We love you, teachers!

Choreographers, thank you for not letting fear paralyze your creativity. We know you are deeply processing and that all the emotions you're feeling will be so beautifully witnessed when expressed through choreography one day soon.

Artistic staff, thank you for the grace you're giving to dancers who are used to dancing eight hours a day, but now do pliés in their apartments. Thank you for understanding the inevitability that strength has diminished and that dancers are concerned for their jobs. Our pre-professional students are wondering if the sacrifices they've made were for nothing. We are hopeful you'll be with your company soon and with fresh gratitude for the gift you get to give this world. Your careful eye, experience and unique vision create the most moving performances.

Administration and staff, thank you for taking our calls with grace, for replying to our emails professionally, and for fielding our endless questions when they are also your own. Thank you for organizing online platforms and finding new ways to help your dance family feel connected, served and cared for.

Board members, thank you for having the hard conversations and stewarding the financial decisions during this economic crisis. Your leadership is often overlooked, but it's so very important to ballet's return. Schools and companies depend on and have faith that you will make decisions in their best interest, and you are. Keep up those Zoom meetings.

The author, Kierstan Fessler, with her daughter, Kayla.

Morgan Wooton, Courtesy Fessler

Parents, thank you for continuing to support your dancer. Thank you for your tuition payments, which are imperative to the studio doors reopening. Thank you for rearranging furniture for your student to take class at home. Working parents, thank you for watching your child when they beg you to, and praising their daily performances even though those deadlines are calling. Your presence and voice in the life of your dancer keeps them going.

And finally, dancers: thank you for dancing. You are the future. You carry on this mission to fill the world with beauty and grace. You carry the DNA of detailed storytelling like no other art. Your athleticism is unmatched, and your artistry is your identity. This world needs you to keep training. Keep growing. Keep learning and practicing and strength-training and taking care of your bodies. Dancing alone in your kitchen was never in the recipe for making a dancer, and we are so hopeful this is temporary, but please keep going. You are worth it. You were born for this.

As a former ballet dancer, a daughter of a dancer, a mother of a pre-professional ballerina, a teacher, a lifelong patron, and a board member of a local non-profit ballet academy and performance company, I thank you. Thank you all. Each of your threads are still weaving the tapestry of ballet in this world, and it's an elegant masterpiece.

The best is yet to come,

Kierstan Fessler

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Peter Mueller, Courtesy Cincinnati Ballet

2020 Stars of the Corps: 10 Dancers Making Strides In and Out of the Spotlight

The corps de ballet make up the backbone of every company. In our Fall 2020 issue, we highlighted 10 ensemble standouts to keep your eye on. Click on their names to learn more!

Dara Holmes, Joffrey Ballet

A male dancer catches a female dancer in his right arm as she wraps her left arm around his shoulder and executes a high arabesque on pointe. Both wear white costumes and dance in front of a blue backdrop onstage.

Dara Holmes and Edson Barbosa in Myles Thatcher's Body of Your Dreams

Cheryl Mann, Courtesy Joffrey Ballet

Wanyue Qiao, American Ballet Theatre

Wearing a powder blue tutu, cropped light yellow top and feather tiara, Wanyue Qiao does a piqu\u00e9 retir\u00e9 on pointe on her left leg and pulls her right arm in towards her.

Wanyue Qiao as an Odalisque in Konstantin Sergeyev's Le Corsaire

Gene Schiavone, Courtesy ABT

Joshua Guillemot-Rodgerson, Houston Ballet

Three male dancers in tight-fitting, multicolored costumes stand in positions of ascending height from left to right. All extend their right arms out in front of them.

Joshua Guillemot-Rodgerson (far right) with Saul Newport and Austen Acevedo in Oliver Halkowich's Following

Amitava Sarkar, Courtesy Houston Ballet

Leah McFadden, Colorado Ballet

Wearing a white pixie wig and a short light-pink tunic costume, a female ballet dancer poses in attitude front on pointe with her left arm bent across her ribs and her right hand held below her chin.

Leah McFadden as Amour in Colorado Ballet's production of Don Quixote

Mike Watson, Courtesy Colorado Ballet

Maria Coelho, Tulsa Ballet

Maria Coelho and Sasha Chernjavsky in Andy Blankenbuehler's Remember Our Song

Kate Lubar, Courtesy Tulsa Ballet

Alexander Reneff-Olson, San Francisco Ballet

A ballerina in a black feathered tutu stands triumphantly in sous-sus, holding the hand of a male dancer in a dark cloak with feathers underneath who raises his left hand in the air.

Alexander Reneff-Olson (right) as Von Rothbart with San Francisco Ballet principal Yuan Yuan Tan in Swan Lake

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India Bradley, New York City Ballet

Wearing a blue dance dress with rhinestone embellishments and a sparkly tiara, India Bradley finishes a move with her arms out to the side and hands slightly flexed.

India Bradley practices backstage before a performance of Balanchine's Tschaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2.

Erin Baiano, Courtesy NYCB

Bella Ureta, Cincinnati Ballet

Wearing a white dress with pink corset, Bella Ureta does a first arabesque on pointe in front of an onstage stone wall.

Bella Ureta performs the Act I Pas de Trois in Kirk Peterson's Swan Lake

Hiromi Platt, Courtesy Cincinnati Ballet

Alejándro Gonzales, Oklahoma City Ballet

Dressed in a green bell-boy costume and hat, Alejandro Gonz\u00e1lez does a saut\u00e9 with his left leg in retir\u00e9 and his arms in a long diagonal from right to left. Other dancers in late 19-century period costumes watch him around the stage.

Alejandro González in Michael Pink's Dracula at Oklahoma City Ballet.

Kate Luber, Courtesy Oklahoma City Ballet

Nina Fernandes, Miami City Ballet

Wearing a long white tutu and crown, Nina Fernandes does a saut de chat in front of a wintery backdrop as snow falls from the top of the stage.

Nina Fernandes in George Balanchine's The Nutcracker

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Pacific Northwest Ballet's Angelica Generosa Shares Her Classic, Comfy Style In and Out of the Studio

"I love the feeling and look of effortless fashion," says Angelica Generosa. Preferring a classic style, the Pacific Northwest Ballet soloist keeps her wardrobe stocked with blazers. But they serve a practical purpose, too. "It tends to get chilly in Seattle, so it's the perfect accessory for layering," Generosa explains.

She's also quite fond of designer handbags. "They're my go-to accessory, and they're also my weakness when shopping," she says, naming Chloé, Chanel and Dior as some of her favorite brands. "I really appreciate the craftsmanship it takes to produce one—they're so beautiful and each has its own story, in a way."

In the studio, Generosa prioritizes comfort, and she'll change up her look depending on the repertoire (leotards and tutus for classical works, breathable shirts with workout pants for contemporary). But she always arrives to work in style. "I really love putting together outfits for even just going to the studio," she says. "It's another way of expressing my mood and what kind of vibe I'm going for that day."

The Details: Street

Angelica Generosa, wearing a blue blazer, white blouse and gray jeans, is photographed from underneath as she walks and looks to the right.

Quinn Wharton

BCBG blazer: "It has some shoulder pads and a really cool pattern," says Generosa. "It reminds me of my mom and '80s fashion."

Zara blouse: She incorporate neutrals, like this white satin button-up, to balance bright pops of colors.

Angelica Generosa looks off to her right in front of a glass-windowed building. She wears a blue blazer, white blouse, gray jeans and carries a small green handbag.

Quinn Wharton

Madewell jeans: Comfort is a major factor for Generosa, who gets her fashion inspiration from her mom, friends and people she comes across day to day.

Chloé bag: "I tend to have smaller purses because I'm quite small. Bigger bags overwhelm me sometimes—unless it's my dance bag, of course!"

The Details: Studio

Angleica Generosa, wearing a blue tank leotard, black wool leggings and pink pointe shoes, balances in a lunge on pointe with her left leg in front, facing a wall of windows.

Quinn Wharton

Label Dancewear leotard: "This was designed by my good friend Elizabeth Murphy, a principal dancer here at PNB. Her leotards always fit me really well."

Mirella leggings: "I get cold easily," says Generosa, who wears leggings and vests to stay warm throughout the day.

Angelica Generosa, wearing a blue tank leotard, black wool tights and pink pointe shoes, jumps and crosses her right foot over her left shin while lifting her arms up to the right.

Quinn Wharton

Freed of London pointe shoes: "When sewing them, I crisscross my elastics and use an elasticized ribbon from Body Wrappers," which helps alleviate Achilles tendon issues, she says. She then trims the satin off of the tip of the shoe. "Then I bend the shank a bit to loosen it up and cut a bit off where my arch is."

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This New "Nutcracker" Competition Wants Your Dance Studio to be Part of a Virtual Collaboration

Despite worldwide theater closures, the Universal Ballet Competition is keeping The Nutcracker tradition alive in 2020 with an online international competition. The event culminates in a streamed, full-length video of The Virtual Nutcracker consisting of winning entries on December 19. The competition is calling on studios, as well as dancers of all ages and levels, to submit videos by November 29 to be considered.

"Nutcracker is a tradition that is ingrained in our hearts," says UBC co-founder Lissette Salgado-Lucas, a former dancer with Royal Winnipeg Ballet and Joffrey Ballet. "We danced it for so long as professionals, we can't wait to pass it along to dancers through this competition."

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