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Celebrate National Best Friend Day With Our 5 Favorite Ballet BFFs

San Francisco Ballet's Frances Chung in "Coppelia." Photo by Erik Tomasson, courtesy SFB.

Though you may not know it, June 8 is National Best Friends Day. Obviously this provides an opportunity to celebrate some of our favorite friendships in ballet, but maybe not the kind you're thinking of. Instead of rounding up our favorite real-life besties (hi, ABT Cindies), we're taking a look at some of ballet's onstage friendships. While lots of classical ballets include love triangles with characters tearing each other down, there are some occasions where friendship flourishes. Check out some of our favorites below, and don't forget to wish your studio BFFs a happy National Best Friends Day!

Romeo, Mercutio and Benvolio, Romeo & Juliet

Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancers Benjamin Griffiths (Benvolio), James Moore (Romeo), and Jonathan Porretta (Mercutio) in Jean-Christophe Maillot's "Roméo et Juliette." Photo by Angela Sterling.

Sure, Juliet has her nurse, but Mercutio literally duels to his death against Tybalt for his BFF Romeo—talk about a loyal friend. But before all of the drama unfolds, Romeo, Mercutio and Benvolio were just your average besties, sneaking into parties and hanging out at the marketplace.


Four Little Swans, Swan Lake

Pacific Northwest Ballet corps de ballet dancers Carli Samuelson and Madison Rayn Abeo, and soloists Angelica Generosa and Leta Biasucci in Kent Stowell's "Swan Lake." Photo by Angela Sterling.

These ladies are the original clique. Not only are they attached at the hip, they're completely in sync all the time, from the tilt of their heads to their precise footwork.

Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, Don Quixote

Pacific Northwest Ballet guest artists Tom Skerritt (Don Q) and Allen Galli (Sancho Panza) with company dancers in Alexei Ratmansky's "Don Quixote." Photo by Angela Sterling.

While ballets are filled with all manner of trusty sidekicks, there is no one quite as idealistic and optimistic in his commitment to his pal as Sancho Panza is to Don Quixote. Even though Don Q may be dreaming of a more beautiful companion, they're content to spend their days adventuring together.

Myrtha's Sidekick Wilis, Giselle

Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancers Elizabeth Murphy and Sarah Ricard Orza in Peter Boal's staging of "Giselle." Photo by Angela Sterling.

Even in death, Moyna and Zulma are BFFs, helping Myrtha round up the rest of the Wilis. While some might say the Wilis are a little coldhearted given that they spend their nights dancing men to death, we think M and Z's friendship proves otherwise (plus, most of those guys probably deserved it).

Swanilda's Crew, Coppélia

San Francisco Ballet's Frances Chung in "Coppelia." Photo by Erik Tomasson, courtesy SFB.

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Ask yourself this: If your BFF found a key lying outside someone's house, would you be down to follow her inside? After all, this is an act better known as breaking and entering. Basically, what we're getting at is that Swanilda's friends must really love her if they're willing to get into those sorts of shenanigans.

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Social media validates extremes over clean, solid technique. Photo by David Hofmann/Unsplash

The entrancing power of Instagram can't be denied. I've lost hours of my life scrolling the platform looking at other people documenting theirs. What starts as a "quick" fill-the-moment check-in can easily lead to a good 10-15 minute session, especially if I enter the nebulous realm of "suggested videos."

My algorithm usually shows me professional ballet dancers in performances, rehearsals, class, backstage and on tour, which I quite enjoy. But there are the other dance feeds that I find myself simultaneously intrigued and horrified by: the hyper-elastic, hyper-extended, gumby-footed girls always at the barre doing developpés to six o'clock. There are the multiple turners, the avid stretchers and we can't forget the endless balancers.

This parade of tricksters always makes me wonder, What else can they do? Can they actually dance?

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Ballet Careers
Ballet Chicago Studio Company in Balanchine's Square Dance. Ron McKinney Photography, Courtesy Ballet Chicago.

"You'll find people say that we're very demanding, but we're not mean," says Daniel Duell, co-founder of the Ballet Chicago Studio Company, a rigorous, Balanchine-based pre-professional training program located in the heart of downtown Chicago. Duell originally formed Ballet Chicago as a professional company, which disbanded after 11 seasons in 1998. Today, the organization is wholly dedicated to training and is one of the only pre-professional programs in the country entrusted with staging George Balanchine's ballets.

In addition to running the Ballet Chicago Studio Company (BCSC) and its affiliated school, former New York City Ballet principal Duell and his wife, Patricia Blair, who danced with Eglevsky Ballet, are répétiteurs for The George Balanchine Trust. The couple's investment in Balanchine's technique and repertoire has afforded Ballet Chicago a unique relationship with the Trust, giving BCSC dancers the opportunity to perform classic ballets like Concerto Barocco, "Rubies," Tarantella and Valse-Fantaisie.

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Just for fun
Boon, Lauren Lovette's furry friend. Photo via @laurenlovette on Instagram.

There's nothing more purrrrfect than some fabulous trinas and their feline friends. We're not kitten: these bonds are paw-sitively adorable! From hanging out backstage to working out together and more, these pairs will pas de chat their way straight into your heart.

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Isabella Boylston and Calvin Royal III at Ballet Sun Valley in 2017. Photo by Steve Dondero, Courtesy Ballet Sun Valley.

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


Isabella Boylston Curates Her Second Hometown Ballet Festival

American Ballet Theatre principal Isabella Boylston moonlights as artistic director of Ballet Sun Valley, which she founded last year. The second annual festival will run July 17–18 in Sun Valley, Idaho, Boylston's hometown. Boylston has created two programs composed of pas de deux and solo pieces from choreographers including George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins and William Forsythe, as well as Justin Peck's In Creases, the one work for a larger ensemble.

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Ballet Careers
Boston Ballet II associate director Peter Stark takes a picture of the group after class. Stark often observes company class when artistic director Mikko Nissinen is teaching. "He'll take notes and give us feedback on what the artistic staff is looking for," says BBII dancer Caroline Buckheit. Photo by Liza Voll.

For the members of Boston Ballet II, Thursday mornings are a special treat. At 9 am, well before the company arrives, they begin their own class with BBII associate director Peter Stark. It's their chance to talk through corrections and dig into the details of their technique—a welcome break from the fast-paced company environment they're just getting used to. "I really enjoy our Thursday class," says Catherine Livingston, 19, who joined BBII last fall. "It's just the 10 of us, and Peter coaches us all individually."

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Cleaning is a daily procedure. Proper maintenance will help extend the life of your floor and protect its special slip-resistant surface.

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Viral Videos
via YouTube

What do you do when you finally have some time off after a busy season? Well, if you're the dancers of New York City Ballet, you find new ways to dance, obviously. Ahead of the company's 52nd annual residency at Saratoga Performing Arts Center, corps members (and super creatives) Peter Walker and Emily Kikta teamed up with their fellow dancers to choreograph and produce a series of videos leading up to the mainstage performances July 17-21.

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Editors' List: The Goods
Left to right: Via Elevé Dancewear; Via LeaMarie

Planning to spend the majority of your summer sweating it out in the studio? Don't worry, you're not alone. And while you're definitely going to want to save the warmups for the winter, you can still accessorize your studio look without adding bulk, thanks to the always-in-style ballet skirt. From bright florals to washed out pastels and wild prints, we rounded up our favorite short (and a few long!) ballet skirts for summer.

AinslieWear Limoncello Wrap Skirt

via AinslieWear

f you can't spend your summer in the Mediterranean under actual lemon trees, this skirt is a solid backup. Plus, it gives us serious Beyonce "Lemonade" vibes, which will help you feel more fierce and less sweaty-mess in class (hopefully).
ainsliewear.com, $50

Health & Body
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Monthly periods can be a huge hassle for anyone. But donning a leotard and tights or getting through a tough barre when you're having your period can make it even harder to deal with. Dr. Lauren Streicher, clinical associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University, offers these tips for bunheads to ease pain and symptoms.

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Just for fun
Photo by Amy Velasquez via Unsplash

Have you ever referred to your feet as biscuits or your pointe shoes as dead in front of a non-dancer friend or family member and seen a wave of confusion cross their face? Dance, like most activities, is chock-full of words and phrases used only by those in the know. In honor of their 90th anniversary, the Oxford English Dictionary wants to change that. They've put out an appeal to gather "hobby words," and dance is on their list (we know that dance is more than a hobby—try not to take offense).

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Viral Videos
Screenshot via YouTube

Last summer, Mariinsky Ballet prima ballerina Uliana Lopatkina retired after more than 20 years as a principal. Adored in Russia and by audiences around the world, Lopatkina's virtuosity, elegance and humble presence have been sorely missed. Although best known for powerful interpretations of classical roles like Odette/Odile, Lopatkina also brought unparalleled drama to contemporary works, as in this clip by Dutch choreographer Hans van Manen. Lopatkina performed the austere, but emotionally fraught duet, titled Trois Gnossiennes, with her frequent Mariinsky partner Ivan Kozlov at the Hans van Manen Festival in 2007.

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News
Leanne Cope and Robert Fairchild. Photo Courtesy Trafalger Releasing.

An American in Paris, the wildly popular musical directed and choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon, comes to movie theaters nationwide September 20 and 23. Filmed in London in 2017, this version features the show's original stars: former New York City Ballet principal Robert Fairchild and former Royal Ballet first artist Leanne Cope. Based on the classic 1951 Gene Kelly film with a score of Gershwin standards, An American in Paris played on Broadway and in London's West End to rave reviews and numerous awards, including a 2015 Tony for Best Choreographer. This limited screening will bring the best of Broadway up close to the masses. For a full list of participating theaters and to purchase tickets, available July 12, click here.

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