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Natalia Osipova and David Hallberg Reunite in Pure Dance

Hallberg and Osipova in Ratmansky's Valse Triste. Johan Persson, Courtesy New York City Center.

In recent years, Royal Ballet principal and international touring artist Natalia Osipova has curated her own evenings of new works, collaborating with a slew of contemporary choreographers. The newest of these is Pure Dance, which premiered last September at Sadler's Wells and comes to New York City Center April 3–6. "I really like to try new things," she told the Financial Times last year. "There is something in my personality that makes me want to start new projects."



Pure Dance consists of four works, danced with three different partners: Jason Kittelberger, a veteran of Cedar Lake and Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui; Jonathan Goddard, of Richard Alston and Scottish Dance Theatre; and her longtime partner from her time at American Ballet Theatre, David Hallberg. She and Hallberg, in particular, have a unique chemistry. "We really are fire and water," says Hallberg. "She's this absolute externalized force and I'm internalized. That's what makes our partnership so special. We don't have to add anything onto the energy we get from each other."

Osipova and Hallberg in Tudor's Leaves are Fading

Johan Persson, Courtesy NYCC

Osipova commissioned a pas de deux for the two of them from the choreographer Alexei Ratmansky, with whom she also has a long history. His Valse Triste, with music by Jean Sibelius, captures a facet of Osipova and Hallberg's relationship—her irrepressible dynamism, his vulnerability and boyishness. The pair also dance a pas de deux from Antony Tudor's wistful 1975 ballet The Leaves Are Fading.

The other works on the program—by Roy Assaf and Iván Pérez—are more contemporary in feel and technique. Osipova likes to mix things up. As she said last year, "A lot of people in ballet are quite condescending towards other forms of dance…I don't see it that way at all."

Ballet Careers
Gray Davis with wife, ABT soloist Cassandra Trenary, after his graduation from the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy. Courtesy Trenary.

When Gray Davis retired from American Ballet Theatre in July of 2018, he moved home to South Carolina, unsure of what would come next. Last month, just over a year later, Davis graduated from the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy. Today, he's working as a deputy for the Abbeville County Sheriff's Office.

Though Davis danced in ABT's corps for 11 years and is married to soloist Cassandra Trenary, to many he's best known for saving the life of a man who was pushed onto the subway tracks in New York City in 2017. The heroic effort earned him the New York State Liberty Medal, the highest civilian honor bestowed by a member of the New York State Senate. We caught up with Davis to hear about how the split second decision he made in the subway affected the course of his life, what it's been like starting a second career and what he sees as the similarities between ballet and law enforcement.

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Sponsored by BLOCH
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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Ballet Stars
Megan Amanda Ehrlich, Courtesy LEAP Program

Claire Sheridan wanted to change the status quo. Leading up to the 1990s, she recalls, "there was a 'shut up and dance' mind-set," and as the founder of the dance program at St. Mary's College of California and a longtime teacher in professional companies, she had seen too many dancers retire with no plan for a successful career transition. "At that time, if you thought about education and the future," she says, "you were not a committed dancer. I wanted to fight that."

With the support of St. Mary's, Sheridan developed the Liberal Education for Arts Professionals program, or LEAP, an innovative liberal-arts bachelor's degree program designed especially for professional dancers. She first presented her idea to executives at San Francisco Ballet. "Kudos to that company, because they said, 'This is great,'" she says. "Eleven of the first 18 dancers who started in August 1999 were from SFB."

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Ballet Training
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I'm a college freshman, and my dance program isn't challenging enough. We only have ballet three times a week and a few hours of modern, and my classmates aren't as dedicated as I am. There's a small dance company nearby, where I was hoping to take extra classes, but I don't have a car. I want to transfer, but I feel like I won't be in good enough shape for auditions. —Tara

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