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The Mikhailovsky Ballet's Historic U.S. Tour

The Mikhailovsly Ballet's Angelina Vorontsova in The Flames of Paris. Stas Levshin, Courtesy Mikhailovsky.

This fall, the Mikhailovsky Ballet lands in the U.S. for the first time, performing at the David H. Koch Theater in New York City November 11–23, and at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in California November 28–30. The company has increasingly positioned itself as a threat to the Mariinsky Ballet and the Bolshoi Ballet, though it continues to grapple with internal problems.


The Mikhailovsky currently operates without an artistic director. Nacho Duato left the job for Berlin last season but remains resident choreographer. Ballet master in chief Mikhail Messerer oversees the company on a daily basis, and is looking for another modern choreographer to step in—potentially as artistic director. "We want our dancers to have modern work created on them," Messerer says.

Angelina Vorontsova and Victor Lebedev in "Don Quixote." Stas Levshin, Courtesy Mikhailovsky.

The company has been successful under businessman Vladimir Kekhman—general director since 2007—but recent turnover has called its stability into question. The arrival and swift departure of artistic advisor and répétiteur Altynai Asylmuratova, and principal dancers Kristina Shapran and Oksana Bondareva, have contributed to a feeling of uncertainty.

International stars Natalia Osipova and Ivan Vasiliev remain on the roster, and despite other commitments, will lead the U.S. tour. With four programs on offer, including a triple bill of three centuries of Russian ballet, audiences will have an opportunity to see the company's breadth.
"I thought we needed to show our current state, that is our new works and stars," says Messerer.

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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