A scene from Robert Dekkers' Swan Lake

Still shot by cinematographer Benjamin Tarquin, Courtesy Post:ballet

10 Online Ballet Performances to Catch in April

Spring is in full bloom with another round of exciting digital dance offerings. This month, companies across the country are releasing world premieres, season finales, artistic collaborations and more. We've rounded up some highlights below.


New York City Ballet

Sebastian Villarini-Velez and India Bradley with KJ Takahashi and Jonathan Fahoury in Kyle Abraham's When We Fell

Erin Baiano, Courtesy NYCB

On April 8, New York City Ballet presents When We Fell, a world premiere by Kyle Abraham starring company dancers Taylor Stanley, India Bradley, Jonathan Fahoury, Christopher Grant, Claire Kretzschmar, Lauren Lovette, KJ Takahashi and Sebastian Villarini-Velez. Filmed by cinematographer Ryan Marie Helfant and shot on the promenade and stage of the David H. Koch Theater, When We Fell celebrates a return to the Lincoln Center grounds after a period of emptiness. The film will remain available for free through April 22 via the NYCB website and YouTube channel.

Ballet Austin

Later this month, Ballet Austin artistic director Stephen Mills premieres his PRELUDES/BEGINNINGS, a new dance film celebrating Austin's historic Scottish Rite Theater and the "ghost light" tradition. Set to Chopin's 24 Preludes, the piece reflects on the ghostly nature of an empty stage and considers historical parallels between the 1918 Spanish influenza pandemic and the present-day coronavirus. Audiences can sign up to receive free access to the film April 15–25 via the company website.

Seattle Dance Collective

NYCB principal Sara Mearns stars as Juliet in Gallop Apace, a new dance film presented by Seattle Dance Collective running April 15–22. Directed and choreographed by Bobbi Jene Smith and Or Schraiber, the piece explores strength, transition and womanhood and is inspired by an often overlooked scene from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Tickets are $5; go to the SDC website for more details.

Post:ballet

On April 1, San Francisco–based contemporary ballet company Post:ballet released a short dance film reimagining Act II of Swan Lake. Shot along the San Francisco Bay in view of the Golden Gate Bridge, company dancers waltz and jeté across the sand in artistic director and founder Robert Dekkers' 15-minute contemporary take on the classic ballet. You can watch Post:ballet's Swan Lake for free via the company's YouTube channel.

San Francisco Ballet

Now through April 21, San Francisco Ballet is streaming George Balanchine's three-act Jewels. While "Rubies" and "Diamonds" is archival footage, the opening ballet "Emeralds" is a new performance capture with role debuts by Misa Kuranaga, Angelo Greco, Sasha Mukhamedov and Aaron Robison. For $29, viewers can purchase 72-hour on-demand access to the stream via the SFB website.

Houston Ballet

Houston Ballet continues its eight-week film program In Good Company, which premiered on March 10, through the end of this month. Each film features choreography by artistic director Stanton Welch and music by the Canadian acoustic quartet The Dead South. The program releases one new video each week on the company's website, YouTube channel and social media pages, where online viewers can access them for free. Check out the released films Honey You, Achilles, The Recap, Long Gone and That Bastard Son now.

Colorado Ballet

Colorado Ballet wraps up its 2020–21 season with its online premiere of Through It All, a program of classical and contemporary repertoire that includes new works created by company dancers. While the program marks Colorado Ballet's return to the live stage, all six performances April 10–11 and 17–18 will be livestreamed in real time. Viewers can purchase virtual tickets up to one hour before the performance for $25 per individual or $40 per household via the company website.

Dayton Ballet

Dayton Ballet presents a condensed production of artistic director Karen Russo Burke's Cinderella at the Victoria Theatre April 23–25. The 3 pm EDT performance on April 24 will also be livestreamed and remain available for on-demand viewing through June 30. Viewers can purchase $25 tickets for online access via the Dayton Performing Arts Alliance website.

Miami City Ballet and Paul Taylor Dance Company

On April 1, Miami City Ballet and Paul Taylor Dance Company premiered the new collaborative virtual performance ViVa, which celebrates the joint history of ballet and modern dance. Choreographed by Amy Hall Garner and set to music by Vivaldi, the piece travels from Miami's Lincoln Road to Manhattan's Lower East Side and features MCB soloist Samantha Hope Galler and PTDC dancer John Harnage. ViVa will remain online permanently for free via MCB's and PTDC's websites and social media channels.

Pennsylvania Ballet

Pennsylvania Ballet continues its digital spring season with its second installment, Resilience, streaming April 29–May 5. The program features a solo, by principal Jermel Johnson, from Dwight Rhoden's And So It Is..., as well as performances of George Balanchine's Allegro Brillante, Christopher Wheeldon's Polyphonia and Angel Corella's Raymonda Suite. Viewers can purchase online access to season installments for $25 each via the company website.

Latest Posts


The author, Lucy Van Cleef, dancing Balanchine's Serenade at Los Angeles Ballet. Reed Hutchinson, Courtesy Los Angeles Ballet

My 12-Year Journey to a Bachelor’s Degree While Dancing Professionally

If you'd have told me in 2009 that it would take 12 years to earn my bachelor's degree, I never would have believed you. Back then, I was a dancer in my early 20s and in my second year with Los Angeles Ballet. I was used to the straightforward demands of the professional ballet world. I knew that hard work and willpower were the currency you paid in the studio, and that the thrill of live performance made all that investment worth it. What I didn't know then is how life's twists and turns aren't always so straightforward. In hindsight, I can see how my winding road to higher education has strengthened me—and my relationship with the ballet world—more than I ever could have imagined.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Margaret Severin-Hansen, teaches class at Carolina Ballet's summer intensive. Cindy McEnery, Courtesy Carolina Ballet

7 Tips for Making the Most of Your Summer Intensive

Last summer many intensives were canceled or online-only. And the past school year has been spotty and strange for many, as well. All the more reason to look forward to an in-person summer program this year with excitement—but also, perhaps, some nerves. Take heart, says Simon Ball, men's program coordinator at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet. "Once you get there the first day, all those fears will be relieved."

Here, Ball and two other experts share their advice for how to make the most of this precious opportunity to dive deep into dance—and how to handle complications that may get in the way, like injury and drama.

1. Show Off...Your Work Ethic

Summer intensives offer a preview of company life: You'll be dancing in a variety of styles over the course of the day, and all day, everyday. But that doesn't mean you have to be company-ready on day one! Though the first day may be filled with placement classes, try not to approach every class as an audition. "This year has taught us that the work is the important thing," says Ball. "Let go of trying to impress. The best impression I ever receive as a teacher is when I see someone receptive to doing things differently, even if that means taking one step backwards initially, to be able to take two steps forward by the end of the summer."

Angelica Generosa, a principal with Pacific Northwest Ballet, clearly made a splash during her first of three summers at the Chautauqua Institution's School of Dance. At 14, she was cast to dance the pas de deux from Balanchine's Stars and Stripes in the final performance. Generosa describes her younger self as "very eager." She'll be a guest teacher at Chautauqua this summer, and says that a similar eagerness catches her attention: "Dedication, and willingness to try. That twinkle in the eyes when a step is really challenging."

2. Make Friends

Even if friends from your year-round school will be with you this summer, branch out. During breaks at the studio, you may be tempted to spend time on your phone. "Take your headphones off," suggests Margaret Severin-Hansen, director of Carolina Ballet's summer intensive. "Share that ballet video with the person sitting next to you! Their eyes might see it differently; you could learn something. Or find that you have other things in common, too."

Do things outside the studio, too, even if your social circle is limited for safety reasons to a "pod" of classmates. "Sign up for activities," says Generosa. Go on that weekend shopping trip, or out for ice cream. "Be open," she says. "These are people you might see along the way in your future."

Simon Ballet, wearing dark clothing, is shown from behind demonstrating ecart\u00e9 arms while in front of him, a class of teenage ballet students perform d\u00e9velopp\u00e9 ecart\u00e9 devant on pointe in a medium-size studio. The dancers, all girls, wear leotards, pink tights and pointe shoes.

Simon Ball leads class at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet.

Courtesy CPYB

3. Stay Healthy

"The first week is tough—you're going to be sore," says Ball. "Prepare yourself." He means that literally. Before your program begins, ramp up cross-training, especially cardio to build your stamina. Severin-Hansen recommends you also keep dancing. It no longer matters that your regular school might be on break: We now know it's possible to take virtual classes from home or in a rented studio. If you're on pointe, make sure to put the shoes on every day, at the very least for some relevés. Keep the skin on your toes tough; the last thing you want is to be sidelined by blisters.

If you are recovering from an injury or managing something persistent like tendonitis, take action even further in advance. Find out if your intensive provides access to physical therapy, and if not, make a plan before you leave home. Learn exercises and massage techniques that you can do on your own, and ask about virtually checking in with your regular doctor or PT. Once you arrive, says Ball, communicate with your instructors. "Chances are it's a common ballet injury that teachers understand. They'll be able to help you."

During her summer intensives, Generosa often suffered flare-ups of inflammation. "I knew the tendonitis in my knees was from over turning out, and in my ankles from lifting my heels in plié." She was able to alleviate some of her pain by dancing more thoughtfully, addressing those habits. She also got creative about taking care of her tendons during off-hours. "I basically did ice baths in Chautauqua Lake."

4. Deal With Disappointment Constructively

Whether you're placed in a lower level than you'd like or were hoping for a soloist role that went to someone else, disappointment is understandable. Try, on your part, to understand too. The faculty may believe you'll thrive more in that particular group, or see a technical issue better solved by not pushing you too fast. If you're not sure exactly what you should be working on, ask. "Trust that you can make the most of your experience, whatever level you're in," says Ball. "Don't be afraid of the conversation."

5. Avoid Drama

Competition is inevitable, but unproductive competition is unnecessary, and bullying unacceptable. Severin-Hansen lays down a very clear guideline: "Nobody should ever feel uncomfortable." If you hear or see anything that bothers you—whether directed at you or someone else—don't hesitate to speak up. "If there's even one person creating drama, you feel it in the class. Summer is short. There's no room for that." Tell the resident advisor in the dorms, or bring the problem to the school administration.

Angelica Generosa performs an arabessque elong\u00e9 on pointe while her partner stands behind her holding her waist and with his left leg in tendu. She holds her left hand on her hip and extends her right arm out to the side with her palm up. Angelica wears a purple leotard, black tights and a white Romantic tutu while Kyle wears a yellow shirt, black tights and tan slippers.

Pacific Northwest Ballet principal Angelica Generosa (shown here in rehearsal with Kyle Davis) made notes of corrections she'd received and variations she'd worked on during her summer intensives to help retain what she had learned.

Lindsay Thomas, Courtesy PNB

6. Fuel the Long Day

Depending on your housing arrangement this summer, you may be on your own for buying or preparing your own meals. Generosa recalls her first time living in a dorm and eating cafeteria food: "I wanted to try everything: pizza, chicken tenders, the salad bar, the dessert section—that was also my introduction to coffee." She found, however, that caffeine and sugar rushes would give way to energy crashes, and soon enough her better knowledge prevailed. "I told myself, 'Angelica, get your protein, vegetables, complex carbs—the right kind of energy.'"

Masking requirements may make snacking at the studios slightly more difficult. Nonetheless, there will almost certainly be somewhere you can safely have a nibble in between classes, whether that's a dancers' lounge or socially distanced in the studio itself. Make sure you always have something with you that's easy to munch on during breaks. Ball recommends protein bars or fruits and veggies. "Hydrating is huge," he adds, and suggests bringing packets of powdered electrolyte supplements to add to your water.

7. Retain Corrections

Take a moment each evening, Severin-Hansen advises, to write a few things down. "Say the whole class got a general correction, like 'Use your head.' The person who takes notes will think about it: 'When could I have used my head?' It's all about how you come back the next day and improve."

Generosa set a goal for herself to get better every day. To accomplish this, she would stay late to practice, she says, "so my body could adjust to what I was trying to achieve in that class." If you're inclined to follow her example, ask a friend to practice with you. You can film each other to get a glimpse of your own progress.

At the end of her Chautauqua summers, Generosa made notes of some things she had worked on and which variations she'd learned. "Then it wasn't like I left and that was that. I brought the summer experience with me, for my whole year."

Michael Cousmano, AKA Madame Olga. Courtesy When I'm Her

New Documentary "When I’m Her" Shows How Madame Olga’s Positive Affirmations Can Transform Ballet

Michael "Mikey" Cusumano was a rising star at American Ballet Theatre in the 1990s, joining the company at 15 years old and dancing principal roles by age 16. But the high pressure of ballet proved detrimental to his emotional and mental well-being. "I couldn't find the joy in ballet anymore," says Cusumano.

After 10 years as a professional ballet dancer, Cusumano transitioned to Broadway, where his alter ego, a sparkly-turban–wearing Russian ballet instructor named Madame Olga, was able to fully emerge. In Madame Olga, Cusumano became the ballet teacher he wished he had growing up. While Olga's classes feature the same technical rigor as any other intermediate-advanced ballet class, they also incorporate her signature humor and positive affirmations. It's common for Madame Olga's students to vocalize those affirmations while dancing (for example, saying "love" out loud while doing an adagio combination).

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks