Gisele Bethea just received an apprentice contract. She's pictured here at the 2014 USA IBC. Photo by Jim Lafferty for Pointe.

New Executive, School Leadership and Dancer Promotions at ABT

American Ballet Theatre is starting 2016 with a bang, with a slew of new leadership announcements and exciting promotions among the lower ranks. Yesterday, ABT officially named Kara Medoff Barnett as its new executive director—and while she's only 37, the company looks like it will be in very skilled hands. Barnett, who grew up studying ballet before college, not only has a Harvard MBA, but she also won a 2003 Tony award as associate producer of Broadway's A Long Day's Journey Into Night. She joins ABT after serving as managing director of Lincoln Center International.


Barnett isn't the only woman on top. Last week, the company announced that former ABT principal Cynthia Harvey will succeed Franco De Vita in May as artistic director of ABT's Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School. For those of us who grew up in the `80s and `90s, Harvey was one of two formidable “Cynthias" in ABT's star ranks (the other being Cynthia Gregory). My dance studio had a well-worn and well-loved VHS recording of her and Mikhail Baryshnikov in Don Quixote, and I feel compelled to share a snippet here:

Harvey spent the last several years teaching and coaching overseas, and formed the En Avant Foundation (a nonprofit foundation for mentoring and coaching gifted ballet dancers) in 2014. Luckily, De Vita, who retires in April, is not going far—he told The New York Times he will likely continue teaching at the school.

And finally, the company just promoted five young women we should all keep an eye on. Hanna Bass and Wan Yue Qiao have been promoted from apprentice to the corps de ballet, while Studio Company members Remy Young, Erica Lall and Gisele Bethea (who we featured in our October/November 2014 issue) have received apprentice contracts. Congratulations, everyone!

Latest Posts


From left: Alaina Broyles, Courtesy Werner; Courtesy Underwood

Gaynor Minden's Latest Dancer Lineup Features a Body-Positivity Activist and Its First Guy

Pointe shoe brand Gaynor Minden recently welcomed 32 young dancers to its coveted roster of Gaynor Girls. But this year, the company included two applicants who push the boundaries of what it means to dance on pointe. While both Mason Simon Underwood and Colleen Werner are longtime GM wearers, they stand out from the rest of this year's group: Underwood is the first ever Gaynor Guy, and Werner is a body-positivity activist.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Dylan Giles, Courtesy Festival Ballet Providence

Festival Ballet Providence's New Leap Year Program Gives Dancers Facing a Gap Year a Place to Grow

A new training program at Festival Ballet Providence called Leap Year is welcoming pre-professional and professional dancers who don't have a studio or company to dance for this season.

The endeavor is the brainchild of Kathleen Breen Combes, FBP's executive and artistic director. "I kept getting these emails of dancers saying they just need a place to train this year," says Combes. "I thought, What if we could provide a space for dancers to get stronger, experiment and try new things in a nonjudgmental and no-pressure environment?"

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Talbot Hall, Courtesy Linnea Swarting

Dancing With Eczema: More Than a Minor Irritation

For dancers dealing with eczema and skin sensitivity, ballet poses some unique challenges. I have struggled with both my whole life, and sometimes my eczema is all I can see when I look in the mirror. The condition causes dry, irritated, rash-like patches on the skin. American Midwest Ballet dancer Rachel Smith, who also suffers from eczema, can relate. "It's hard to feel confident in yourself or your dancing when you have itchy red spots all over your body that you should leave uncovered so they can heal quickly."

Dry, sensitive skin and eczema are very common—according to the National Eczema Association, about 10.1 percent of Americans have some form of the skin condition. Sweating all day, tight-fitting dancewear and high levels of stress make dancers with eczema more likely to experience bad flare-ups and daily symptoms. While treatments vary, below are some simple steps dancers can take to ease raw, itchy skin.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks