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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."

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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 at New York's Metropolitan Opera House, 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.

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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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Sir Anthony Dowell dedicated four decades for his life to The Royal Ballet, first as a principal dancer, and then as the company's artistic director. His monumental career is a testament to his love for the art form. That love can also be seen in this solo from a 1980 performance of Dutch choreographer Hans van Manen's Four Schumann Pieces, created for the company five years earlier. Van Manen's choreography slips in and out of pedestrian and balletic vocabulary. Dowell demonstrates his virtuosity by ascending into sublime classical shapes without an intimation of effort.

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During one of Charlotte Nash's first few weeks with Houston Ballet II, she was thrown into a run-through of Balanchine's Theme and Variations. "I had never really understudied before and I didn't know what I was doing," she says. "I fell right away and was quickly replaced." For Nash, now a dancer with Festival Ballet Providence, the episode was a tough lesson. "I was mortified, but then I said to myself, 'Okay, I need to figure out how to learn things more quickly.'"

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