Ballet Stars

Nicola Curry: The ABT Corps Member Loves Branching Out Into Choreography

Nicola Curry in Paul Taylor's Company B. Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy ABT.

A boxing ring inside a large warehouse during New York's Fashion Week last spring was the set for Nicola Curry's latest choreographic adventure. Donning the ornate necklaces, earrings, bracelets and rings of the design team DANNIJO, Curry and her American Ballet Theatre/Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School cast performed a ballet surrounded by models, buyers and fashion photographers. The jewelry designers, who had recently begun taking boxing classes and had just been to a ballet performance, were launching a new line called Boxerina, inspired by both disciplines. Curry was hired a few weeks before their show to choreograph the launch.


It wasn't Curry's first round of dancemaking. Now 28, the ABT corps member got her choreographic break in 2010, when she participated in an initiative to foster ABT members' choreographic talent. With fellow corps member Eric Tamm, she had stayed late after rehearsals to experiment with new partnering ideas. “Her movement is very full, always musical and very strong to the eye," he says. The panel that judged the results included Kevin McKenzie, Alexei Ratmansky and Christopher Wheeldon. “It was incredibly nerve-racking to be in front of them," Curry remembers. But her efforts paid off, and the panel selected her to create a new ballet for a special gala show. One opportunity led to another: McKenzie invited her to choreograph a pas de deux for Christine Shevchenko and Joseph Gorak to perform for the Erik Bruhn Competition; and choreographer Emery LeCrone selected her for the Young Choreographers Showcase in New York.

“Being on the other side is so eye-opening," says Curry. “You realize that adaptability, positive attitude and punctuality count for at least as much as, if not more than, technical proficiency." She admits that it can be “hard to put yourself out there," but takes solace in the advice that Ratmansky gave her before the curtain went up on her first creation: It never gets easier.

Fun Facts

Dream role: “Anything dramatic and passionate—I love Kenneth MacMillan's ballets and his heroines."
If you weren't a dancer…:
“I could see myself doing something in event planning."
Secret talent: “My sister and I have a fun challenge going where we do headstands around the world in interesting places—see us at #headstandsaroundtheworld."
What's next:
Getting married, moving to Australia and joining The Australian Ballet

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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