New York City Ballet's Forward-Thinking Fall Season

NYCB's Teresa Reichlen in Schumacher's Clearing Dawn. Photo by Paul Kolnik, Courtesy NYCB.

New York City Ballet's fall season is packed with world premieres, including three by choreographers who have never made work for the company.

NYCB resident choreographer Justin Peck and corps member Troy Schumacher will each create a new ballet. Schumacher's second piece for NYCB will feature a commissioned score from Ellis Ludwig-Leone, the music director for Schumacher's Ballet Collective and the frontman of the band San Fermin. Peck's new work will feature Steve Reich's Variations for Vibes, Pianos and Strings.


Audiences can also expect first-time work from Canadian Robert Binet, San Francisco Ballet corps member Myles Thatcher and UK-based artist Kim Brandstrup.

Binet and Thatcher are both early-career artists who've had huge opportunities to choreograph on major companies. Binet has made work on the National Ballet of Canada and for Wayne McGregor | RandomDance, while Thatcher has choreographed for SFB and recently participated in the Rolex Mentor & Protégé Arts Initiative. For their NYCB debuts, Binet will use two movements of Maurice Ravel's Miroirs: "Oiseaux Tristes" and "Une Barque sur l'Océan," while Thatcher has chosen the first movement of William Walton's piano quartet in D minor.

Brandstrup's premiere at NYCB will be his first work ever for an American company. He has received two Olivier Awards and has choreographed works for multiple companies, including The Royal Ballet, Royal Danish Ballet and Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal. He will create a ballet to Jeux, by Claude Debussy.

Ballet Stars

What do Diana Vishneva, Olga Smirnova, Kristina Shapran and Maria Khoreva all have in common? These women, among the most impressive talents to graduate from the Vaganova Ballet Academy in recent years, all studied under legendary professor Lyudmila Kovaleva. Kovaleva, a former dancer with the Kirov Ballet (now the Mariinsky), is beloved by her students and admired throughout the ballet world for her ability to pull individuality and artistry out of the dancers she trains. Like any great teacher, Kovaleva is remarkably generous with her wealth of knowledge; it seems perfect, then, that she appears as the Fairy of Generosity in this clip from a 1964 film of the Kirov's The Sleeping Beauty.

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Sponsored by BLOCH
Courtesy BLOCH

Today's ballet dancer needs a lot from a pointe shoe. "What I did 20 years ago is not what these dancers are doing now," says New York City Ballet shoe manager Linnette Roe. "They are expected to go harder, longer days. They are expected to go from sneakers, to pointe shoes, to character shoes, to barefoot and back to pointe shoes all in a day."

The team at BLOCH developed their line of Stretch Pointe shoes to address dancer's most common complaints about the fit and performance of their pointe shoes. "It's a scientific take on the pointe shoe," says Roe. Dancers are taking notice and Stretch Pointe shoes are now worn by stars like American Ballet Theatre principal Isabella Boylston, who stars in BLOCH's latest campaign for the shoes.

We dug into the details of Stretch Pointe's most game-changing features:

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Ballet Careers
Ali Cameron, Courtesy Queensland Ballet

An artistic director's position was far from Li Cunxin's mind when the Brisbane-based Queensland Ballet came calling in 2012. Since his retirement from the stage in 1999, the Chinese-Australian dancer had embarked on a highly successful career at the helm of a stockbroking firm. His wife, former dancer and current Queensland ballet mistress Mary McKendry Li, changed his mind, Li remembers. "She said, 'Wouldn't it be nice to give something back to the art form that we both have benefited so much from?' "

Seven years later, Li's contribution has been dramatic. Queensland Ballet, once a struggling choreographer-led company, has become one of Australia's most exciting repertoire ensembles, with Liam Scarlett on board as artistic associate. The budget has more than quadrupled, to over $20 million USD, and Li has launched not one but three major construction projects, with world-class headquarters, a theater and a new academy all in progress.

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News
Gene Schiavone, Courtesy Boston Ballet

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

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