News

Onstage This Week: "Mad Max" Rock Ballet Makes Its Debut, Ricardo Amarante World Premiere at Atlanta Ballet, and More!

LINES Ballet's Adji Cissoko in rehearsal for Fury. Photo by Alex Reneff-Olsen, Courtesy Fury.

Wonder what's going on in ballet this week? We've pulled together some highlights.


"Fury," The "Mad Max" Rock Ballet, Makes Its Debut in San Francisco This Week

Who said that action movies and ballet don't go together? September 14–15, San Francisco audiences can see Fury, a contemporary rock ballet based on the 2015 post-apocalyptic film Mad Max: Fury Road. Choreographed by former Australian Ballet principal and Nederlands Dans Theater member Danielle Rowe, the project will feature seven dancers hailing from Alonzo King LINES Ballet and San Francisco Ballet: Adji Cissoko, Babatunji, Dores André, Frances Chung, Luke Ingham, Ulrik Birkkjaer and Jennifer Stahl-Weitz. For producer Kate Duhamel, the goal of the project is to "appeal to a broader audience than those who typically go to the theater to see classical ballet." To that end, Fury will use an original score by indie pop band YASSOU and be performed in-the-round at music clubs, rather than in a proscenium theater. Sets will be projected on various surfaces, and the audience will be standing, able to mingle throughout.

Atlanta Ballet's Season Opener Includes a World Premiere by Ricardo Amarante

Atlanta Ballet's 2018/2019 season opens September 14-16 with a program titled Return to Fall. This mixed repertoire lineup covers a lot of ground: Jiří Kylián's Return to a Strange Land, a selection of divertissement from works including Don Quixote and George Balanchine's Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux, and a world premiere by Brazilian choreographer Ricardo Amarante, fittingly titled The Premiere. The program also includes a special performance of Mauro Bigonzetti's Vertigo, danced by Czech National Ballet, as part of Atlanta Ballet's new transatlantic partnership.

Houston Ballet Presents a Weekend of Free Outdoor Performances

Summer might be over, but Houston Ballet is taking advantage of the lingering warm weather with a weekend of outdoor performances at Houston's Miller Outdoor Theatre, September 13-15. The program includes excerpts from some of Houston Ballet's best-loved works: Romeo and Juliet, Swan Lake, Don Quixote, Raymonda, Sons de L'aime, Spring Waters and The Ladies, as well as artistic director Stanton Welch's newest work, Just!, which the company premiered at Jacob's Pillow last month.

Traverse City Dance Project's One-Night-Only Collaboration With the Traverse Symphony Orchestra

For the sixth year, Traverse City Dance Project co-directors Jennifer McQuiston Lott and Brent Whitney gather dancers from around the country to northern Michigan to present new choreography. Past dancers have hailed from Ballet Memphis, The Milwaukee Ballet, Ballet X, Sacramento Ballet, and more. This year's performance, slated for September 15, mixes things up; the group is collaborating with a full symphony orchestra. The program includes a new work by McQuiston Lott to Debussy's "La Mer," and a premiere choreographed by Whitney to Richard Danielpour's "Urban Dances."

Ballet Careers
Lenai Alexis Wilkerson. Christopher Duggan, Courtesy Michelle Tabnick Public Relations.

This is one of a series of stories on recent graduates' on-campus experiences—and the connections they made that jump-started their dance careers. Lenai Alexis Wilkerson graduated from University of Southern California with a BFA in dance (dance performance concentration) and a political science minor in 2019.

As Lenai Alexis Wilkerson looked at colleges, she wanted a school that would prepare her for two totally different professions: dancing and law. "I knew, pretty much when I was 16, that I wanted to go to law school," she says. "So I wanted the opportunity to have a dual college experience, where I could have a conservatory training style within a university and I could focus equally on my academics." When she auditioned for the inaugural class of University of Southern California's Glorya Kaufman School of Dance, she knew it was the right fit.

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Sponsored by Ballet Arizona
Tzu Chia Huang, Courtesy Ballet Arizona

These days, ballet dancers are asked to do more than they ever have—whether that's tackling versatile rep, taking on intense cross-training regimens or managing everything from their Instagram pages to their summer layoff gigs.

Without proper training, these demands can take a toll on both the mind and the body. But students can start preparing for them early—with the right summer intensive program.

The School of Ballet Arizona's summer intensive takes a well-rounded approach to training—not just focusing on technique and facility but nurturing overall dancer growth. "You cannot make a dancer just by screaming at them like they used to," says master ballet teacher Roberto Muñoz, who guests at the program every summer. "You have to take care of the person as well."

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News
Nicolas Pelletier in Carmina Burana. Francisco Estevez, Courtesy Colorado Ballet.

Last week, Colorado Ballet interrupted Nutcracker rehearsals for an exciting announcement: Four dancers were being promoted. Though all made the jump from the company's corps de ballet, Nicolas Pelletier ascended directly to the rank of soloist, while Sean Omandam, Emily Speed and Melissa Zoebisch were promoted to demi-soloist. This news comes hot on the heels of last August's promotion of Francisco Estevez to principal.

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Courtesy School of Pennsylvania Ballet

While many of us are deep in Nutcracker duties, The School of Pennsylvania Ballet director James Payne has been looking further ahead, finalizing preparations for the school's summer intensive programs. In January, he and his staff will embark on a 24-city audition tour to scour the country for the best young dancers, deciding whether or not to offer them a spot—maybe even a scholarship—in the school's rigorous 5-week intensive focused on high-caliber ballet instruction. Though he'll be evaluating aspirants, he urges that as a student, you should be equally selective in choosing programs that could galvanize your training—and possibly even your career.

We got Payne's advice on strategizing your summer intensive plan before the audition cycle kicks in:

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