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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."

The Conversation
Ballet Stars
Angela Sterling, Courtesy PNB

Your teacher at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, Marcia Dale Weary, recently passed away. What impact did she have on you?

I feel deeply indebted to her. She shaped my life's course, and I know that were it not for her, I would not be living out my dream today. She led by example through her remarkable commitment to her work, as well as her genuine kindness and generosity.

You were a trainee with San Francisco Ballet. What was that experience like?

It was an exposure to different schools of thought. We were mostly in the full-lengths, and watching run-throughs of Sleeping Beauty and Don Quixote was revolutionary for me. But I was young and far away from home. That transition was hard. My body started changing. It wanted to be fleshy. Biology is cruel in that way. I desperately wanted to fit in, but it wasn't meant to be.

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The Royal Ballet's Vadim Muntagirov and Marianela Nuñez in La Bayadère. Photo by Bill Cooper, Courtesy ROH.

Do you ever wish you could teleport to London and casually stroll into The Royal Opera House to see some of the world's best-loved ballets? Well, we have a solution for you: The Royal Ballet's 2018-19 cinema season.

Whether live or recorded, the seven ballet programs listed below, streaming now through next October, will deliver all of the magic that The Royal Ballet has to offer straight to your local movie theater. Can you smell the popcorn already?

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Site Network
Left: Misa Kuranaga in The Veritginous Thrill of Exactitude. Gene Schiavone, Courtesy Boston Ballet. Right: Sasha Mukhamedov in Apollo. Altin Kaftira, Courtesy Dutch National Ballet.

San Francisco Ballet just announced some major news: longtime Boston Ballet star Misa Kuranaga will be joining the company as a principal dancer for the 2019-20 season, while Dutch National Ballet principal Sasha Mukhamedov has been hired as a soloist. They join a slew of newly promoted SFB principals and soloists, announced earlier this year.

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Ballet Stars
Xiao Nan Yu in company class. Aaron Vincent, Courtesy National Ballet of Canada.

On June 22, National Ballet of Canada principal Xiao Nan Yu will retire from the stage after 22 years with the company. Originally from Dalian, China, Yu studied at the Shen Yang School of Dance and the Beijing Dance Academy before coming to Canada's National Ballet School at age 17. She joined the National Ballet of Canada less than two years later, and was promoted to principal in 2001.

"She is a supreme dance actress with an innate ability to bring the audience into her world," says NBoC artistic director Karen Kain. "Nan has always brought such a calm confidence into the studio and has been a role model for so many dancers I will miss her generosity both inside the studio and out." We spoke with Yu as she prepared for her final week of performances. She opened up about her initial culture shock upon moving to Toronto, her thoughts on artistry and why she chose Hanna Glawari in The Merry Widow as her final role.

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