NYCB Turns To Big Ballets

During its 2010 winter season, which begins January 5, the New York City Ballet will forgo its signature mixed-repertory programs for five evening-length and—with the exception of Balanchine’s Jewels—story-driven ballets. Especially notable is the return of Peter Martins’ Petipa-based Sleeping Beauty.

These ballet behemoths pose a special challenge for the company’s dancers, says assistant ballet master Sean Lavery, who will coach the roles of Aurora and the Prince in Beauty. “Our dancers are very strong, but most of our ballets are short sprints, whereas something like Beauty is a longer race,” Lavery explains. To prepare his Auroras, Lavery schedules special stamina-boosting rehearsals. “About two weeks before opening, I have each Aurora run all of her material in a single hour—all the pas de deux, all the variations, everything,” he says. “That way, we know she’ll be able to make it through the real thing without collapsing.”

Lavery thinks company members will take full advantage of the opportunity to dance evening-length works. “For the principals, it’s a wonderful feeling to be able to pull off a whole night rather than a short ballet,” he says. “And it’s fun for all the dancers to tell a story sometimes. We don’t get to do that too much here.”

The big ballets will be good for the company financially, too. “It’s a fact: Classical full-lengths sell tickets,” Lavery says. “And these days, with the economy the way it is, it’s important to get people into the seats so we can survive.” —MF

Latest Posts

Left to right: Dance Theatre of Harlem's Daphne Lee, Amanda Smith, Lindsey Donnell and Alexandra Hutchinson in a scene from Dancing Through Harlem. Derek Brockington, Courtesy Dance Theatre of Harlem

Dancers Share Their Key Takeaways After a Year of Dancing on Film

Creating dances specifically for film has become one of the most effective ways that ballet companies have connected with audiences and kept dancers employed during the pandemic. Around the world, dance organizations are finding opportunities through digital seasons, whether conceiving cinematic, site-specific pieces or filming works within a traditional theater. And while there is a consistent sentiment that nothing will ever substitute the thrill of a live show, dancers are embracing this new way of performing.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

#TBT: Mikhail Baryshnikov in "Fancy Free" (1981)

In Jerome Robbins's 1944 ballet Fancy Free, three sailors on leave spend the day at a bar, attempting to woo two young women by out-dancing and out-charming one another. In this clip from 1981, Mikhail Baryshnikov, who was then both the artistic director of American Ballet Theatre and a leading performer with the company, pulls out all the stops to win the ladies' affections.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Bethany Kirby, Courtesy Tulsa Ballet

An Infectious-Disease Physician on What Vaccines Mean for Ballet

As the coronavirus pandemic grinds into its second year, the toll on ballet companies—and dancers—has been steep. How long before dancers can rehearse and perform as they once did?

Like most things, the return to normal for ballet seems to hinge on vaccinations. Just over 22 percent of people in the U.S. are now vaccinated, a way from the estimated 70 to 85 percent experts believe can bring back something similar to pre-pandemic life.

But what would it mean for 100 percent of a ballet company to be vaccinated? Tulsa Ballet artistic director Marcello Angelini is about to find out—and hopes it brings the return of big ballets on the big stage.

"I don't think companies like ours can survive doing work for eight dancers in masks," Angelini says. "If we want to work, dance, and be in front of an audience consistently and with the large works that pay the bills, immunization is the only road that leads there."

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks