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Onstage This Week: The Mariinsky Returns to DC, New "Frankenstein" at Carolina Ballet and More!

The Mariinsky Ballet in Paquita. Darian Volkova, Courtesy Mariinsky Ballet.

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


The Mariinsky Brings Its New "Paquita" to DC

October 8–13, the Mariinsky Ballet presents the U.S. premiere of its 2017 production of Paquita at The Kennedy Center. Though the Mariinsky performed the ballet's famed wedding pas de deux at the Kennedy Center in 2016, the St. Petersburg–based company is now showcasing the ballet in its entirety. This new rendition of the Marius Petipa classic features a reconstruction of the wedding pas de deux by Yuri Burlaka, and new choreography by Yuri Smekalov, who worked from a libretto of his own making based on Miguel de Cervantes' 1613 novella La gitanilla. —Cadence Neenan

Carolina Ballet's New "Frankenstein" is Tutu Spooky

Halloween creates the perfect inspiration this fall. October 10–27, Carolina Ballet artistic director Zalman Raffael brings Frankenstein to life in Raleigh, North Carolina. His new, full-length ballet will feature a commissioned score by J. Mark Scearce. Costumes, designed by Carolina Ballet's resident designer Kerri Martinsen, will allude to the story's original 19th-century setting, though Raffael's interpretation emphasizes the timelessness of Mary Shelley's tale.

Fall for Dance's Final Program Features NYCB Stars

The 16th annual New York City Center Fall for Dance Festival enters its final two programs this week. Program 5, running October 12-13, features Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal in Dance Me by Andonis Foniadakis and Ihsan Rustem. Also on the bill is the world premiere of a duet for New York City Ballet principals Sara Mearns and Taylor Stanley created by European ballet choreographer Kim Brandstrup.

Kansas City Ballet Presents the World Premiere of Adam Houghland's "Carmina Burana"

October 11-20, Kansas City Ballet audiences can see the world premiere of Adam Houghland's new Carmina Burana. The ballet will feature Carl Orff's famous score performed live by Kansas City Symphony and Kansas City Symphony Chorus. Also on the program are Annabelle Lopez Ochoa's Tulips and Lobster and Helen Pickett's Petal.

"Don Quixote" Returns to Pennsylvania Ballet

Pennsylvania Ballet's Don Quixote, restaged by artistic director Angel Corella, returns to Philadelphia's Academy of Music October 10-20. Catch a glimpse of the fiery classic, set to Ludwig Minkus' 1869 score, in the above trailer.

Nevada Ballet Theatre Collaborates with Cirque Du Soleil 

A Choreographer's Showcase, Nevada Ballet Theatre's innovative collaboration with Cirque du Soleil, is back for the 12th year October 6, 12 and 13. This year's performance will feature over 60 performers in work by 16 choreographers from the two Las Vegas-based troupes. The genre-bending show will include media technology elements and video projections alongside live dancing, acrobatics and more.

American Contemporary Ballet Focuses on the Darker Side of Halloween

Lincoln Jones' Inferno. Courtesy ACB.

October 11-November 2, Los Angeles-based American Contemporary Ballet gets into the Halloween spirit with two works by artistic director Lincoln Jones "serving gothic horror." Inferno is based on the first part of Dante's epic 14th century poem, Divine Comedy, while Burlesque is a series of dance episodes blending ballet and burlesque.

Peter and His Animal Friends Take the Stage at Nashville Ballet

Audiences of all ages can crawl, fly and scurry to Nashville Ballet October 10-13 to see Paul Vasterling's family-friendly Peter and the Wolf. This production, set to Sergei Prokofiev's score, unfolds like a life-sized storybook, filled with many species of animal characters.

Festival Ballet Providence's Season Opens with "Hansel & Gretel" 

October 12-20, Festival Ballet Providence's 2019/20 season opens with Ilya Kozodayev's 2016 Hansel & Gretel. This ballet, perfect for children and adults alike, features a commissioned score/soundscape by David Ikard.

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.

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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.

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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."

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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.

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