News

New York City Ballet's New Leadership Reflects on the Season Ahead

NYCB Associate Artistic Director Wendy Whelan and NYCB Artistic Director Jonathan Stafford. Christopher Lane, Courtesy NYCB.

After a year and a half of tumult at New York City Ballet, the company is finally settling into a groove under new artistic director Jonathan Stafford and associate artistic director Wendy Whelan, who lead their first full season starting this fall.


Abi Stafford and members of NYCB in George Balanchine's Union Jack. Paul Kolnik, Courtesy NYCB.

The company's September 17–October 13 run at Lincoln Center's Koch Theater was solidified before the new directors' appointments took effect, though Stafford had a hand in planning some of the 2019–20 line-up while heading the company's interim leadership team. (The 2020–21 season will mark his and Whelan's first time programming a season together from start to finish.)

For 2019–20, Whelan is particularly looking forward to Christopher Wheeldon's DGV: Danse à Grande Vitesse, George Balanchine's Union Jack and his evening-length Jewels. "If I had to take three ballets to a desert island, I could live with those three the rest of my life," she says. These works share programs with Balanchine classics, including Valse Fantaisie, Kammermusick No. 2 and Raymonda Variations, with a healthy dose of Jerome Robbins sprinkled throughout the year.

Jenifer Ringer in Merce Cunningham's Summerspace. Paul Kolnik, Courtesy NYCB.

Whelan also cites themes of unity and camaraderie running through the fall season's "big, joyous, buoyant ballets," like Balanchine's Tschaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2, Serenade and Symphony in C, and Justin Peck's Everywhere We Go.

Audiences will undoubtedly be keeping their ears pricked for news of camaraderie offstage, as well. Stafford and Whelan succeed longtime ballet master in chief Peter Martins, whose retirement amid sexual misconduct allegations is not the company's only recent scandal. Last fall, three principal men left the company after being accused of circulating sexually explicit photographs and videos. One of them, Amar Ramasar (who had been fired by NYCB), was reinstated by the American Guild of Musical Artists last spring, and made his return to the NYCB stage, a controversial decision that has been questioned by critics and his colleagues alike.

Andrew Veyette and Sterling Hyltin with members of the company in Justin Peck's Everywhere We Go. Paul Kolnik, Courtesy NYCB.

Among returns, the company will take on Merce Cunningham's Summerspace this fall for the first time in almost two decades. "Cunningham's choreography will be an exciting challenge for our dancers," says Stafford. "I'm very pleased that NYCB will have the opportunity to pay tribute to his centennial with these performances."

NYCB principal Lauren Lovette and BalletMet artistic director Edwaard Liang, a former NYCB principal, are choreographing world premieres for the company's annual fall fashion gala on September 26. Both have made work for the company before, and they are paired with fashion designers Zac Posen and Anna Sui, respectively.

With returning dancers, returning ballets and fresh perspectives, time will tell how the old and new mix under Whelan and Stafford's leadership.

Francisco Estevez, Courtesy Colorado Ballet Academy

When you're looking for a ballet program to take you to the next level, there are a lot of factors to consider. While it's tempting to look for the biggest name that will accept you, the savvy dancer knows that successful training has more to do with the attention and opportunities you'll get.

We put together a few of the most important things for dancers to look for in a summer or year-round training program, with the help of the experts at Colorado Ballet Academy:

Keep reading... Show less
Everything Nutcracker
Pennsylvania Ballet demi-soloist Thays Golz as the Sugar Plum Fairy during a stage rehearsal for George Balanchine's Nutcracker. All photography by Arian Molina Soca.

For many professional ballet dancers, Nutcracker means weeks of performances. That usually translates to multiple casts—and important breakout opportunities for those in the junior ranks. On the afternoon of December 13, Pennsylvania Ballet demi-soloist Thays Golz made her debut as the Sugar Plum Fairy along with her Cavalier, corps member Austin Eylar. For the Brazilian-born dancer, who joined PAB in 2018 after two seasons at Houston Ballet, Sugar Plum marks one of her first principal roles.

"I'm really excited," says Golz. PAB artistic director Angel Corella appointed 12 casts of Sugar Plum Fairies over the run's 29 performances. "When I first found out, I was like, 'Pinch me!' I still can't believe it."

We caught up with Golz just before her debut to see how she prepared for her big break.

Keep reading... Show less
Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy US Prix de Ballet

The US Prix de Ballet is taking an unconventional approach to the ballet competition—by putting the competitors' health first. After a successful first year in 2018, the Prix is returning to San Diego, CA this February with an even more comprehensive lineup of wellness workshops and master classes, in addition, of course, to the high-level competition.

Though the talent is top-notch, the environment is friendly, says HARID Conservatory faculty member Victoria Schneider, who serves on US Prix de Ballet's elite panel of judges. "The wellbeing of the dancer is the main focus," says Schneider, who awarded three scholarships to HARID at last year's competition.

US Prix de Ballet was born after its founders traveled to the Japan Grand Prix International Ballet Competition in 2016. "The company ran every aspect of the competition with professionalism, dignity, honor and precision," says founder Neisha Hernandez. "We knew we wanted this level of experience for America."

Keep reading... Show less