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NYCB Ushers in New Voices for Fall Fashion Gala

Members of NYCB in Gianna Reisen's Composer's Holiday at the 2017 Fall Fashion Gala. Photo by Paul Kolnik, Courtesy NYCB.

Last year, New York City Ballet wowed fans by hiring its youngest choreographer ever, the then-18-year-old Gianna Reisen, to make a ballet for its Fall Fashion Gala. For this year's gala, held September 27 at Lincoln Center's Koch Theater, Reisen will be back alongside NYCB first-timers Kyle Abraham and Matthew Neenan. All three will present world premieres. Reisen, a former student at the School of American Ballet, is now an apprentice at Dresden Semperoper Ballett. "Living, dancing and choreographing in Europe has given me a set of tools that I could never throw away," she says. Reisen will work with a cast of 18 dancers to a score by John Adams, and will incorporate set pieces onstage. "I plan to tell more of a story this time around," she says.


Though Abraham, a highly acclaimed contemporary choreographer and artistic director of A.I.M, worked with former NYCB principal Wendy Whelan on her project Restless Creature, this is his first time choreographing for a ballet company. "It's very exciting, and it's very daunting," he says. Abraham plans on working with a cast of seven to eight dancers primarily in solos and duets, featuring principals Sara Mearns, Ashley Bouder and Taylor Stanley, whom he refers to as "a gift." "I'm very inspired by these new artists who have these different tools," he says.

As choreographer in residence at Pennsylvania Ballet and co-founder of BalletX, Neenan has choreographed for nearly a dozen ballet companies around the country. Yet having trained at SAB, he says this experience "feels like coming back home." He plans on working with 15 to 20 dancers and using a Dvořák string quartet. "I want the piece to be atmospheric and to the point."

Just for fun
Via @lizzo on Twitter

On August 20, pop goddess Lizzo tweeted, "Someone do a ballet routine to truth hurts pls," referring to the anthem that's been top on everyone's playlists this summer. Lizzo might not know it yet, but ballet dancers are not known for shying away from a challenge. In the past two days, the internet has exploded which responses, with dancers like Houston Ballet's Harper Watters and American Ballet Theatre's Erica Lall tagging the singer in submissions.

Below are a few of our favorites so far, but we're guessing that this is just the beginning. Ballet world, consider yourselves officially challenged! (Use #LizzoBalletChallenge so we know what you're up to.)

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Viral Videos

French ballerina Zizi Jeanmaire first gained fame when she premiered the titular title role in Roland Petit's Carmen in 1949, opposite Petit as Carmen's lover Don José. With her famously cropped hair (and cropped tutu!), Jeanmaire's performance as the seductive gypsy took the world by storm, catapulting her and Petit's careers.

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Ballet Stars
From left: Douane Gosa, Gianni Goffredo, James Whiteside, Maxfield Haynes and Matthew Poppe in WTF. Yo Poosh, Courtesy Kimberly Giannelli PR.

We've always known that Madonna loves dance. After all, the "Queen of Pop" studied at the Martha Graham School in the 1970s. Nevertheless, we were still surprised (and thrilled) to see that she invited James Whiteside to perform at her 61st birthday party in The Hamptons last weekend.

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Giveaways
Modeled by Daria Ionova. Darian Volkova, Courtesy Elevé Dancewear.
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