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Onstage This Week: YAGP Finals, San Francisco Ballet's Festival of New Works, and More

YAGP 2018 New York Finals Week. Photo by VAM Productions, Courtesy YAGP.

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


Youth America Grand Prix

After months of semi-finals, the final round of YAGP 2018 is finally here! This week, 1,800 finalists from 30 countries (chosen from the over 10,000 who auditioned) are gathered in New York. On April 18, the competition culminates in the Final Round at the Koch Theater at Lincoln Center, where the most promising participants will compete for scholarships and contracts with ballet schools and companies around the world. April 19 marks YAGP's Stars of Today Meet the Stars of Tomorrow gala, featuring finalists from the competition alongside international ballet stars including Dutch National Ballet principal Sasha Mukhamedov, American Ballet Theatre's Isabella Boylston and Daniil Simkin, and New York City Ballet principal Daniel Ulbricht, among others. YAGP is live-streaming the finals all week—you can check it out on their website. Also, keep an eye on Pointe's social media channels tomorrow, April 17, for an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the competition.

Competing in YAGP this week? Here's a good luck message from ABT's Stella Abrera.



SFB Presents 12 World Premieres in 17 Days

San Francisco Ballet's Unbound: A Festival of New Works is breaking boundaries this spring by presenting 12 world premieres by 12 major choreographers (David Dawson, Alonzo King, Edwaard Liang, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, Cathy Marston, Trey McIntyre, Justin Peck, Arthur Pita, Dwight Rhoden, Myles Thatcher, Stanton Welch and Christopher Wheeldon) in just over two weeks. The festival will run April 20–May 6 at the War Memorial Opera House and include a two-day symposium on the ways that diversity and technology are shaping the future of ballet.


ABT Studio Company Performs in NYC

April 17-18, American Ballet Theatre's Studio Company will appear at Ailey Citigroup Theater in a mixed repertoire program including an excerpt from Johan Kobborg and former ABT principal Ethan Stiefel's Giselle, August Bournonville's William Tell pas de deux and Liam Scarlett's Untitled. Also on the program are new works by Marco Pelle and New York City Ballet's Lauren Lovette. Though the company frequently performs all over the country, we rarely get a chance to see them on their home turf. Here's company dancer Ingrid Thoms performing a sneak peek at New York City Center last week.


Smuin Ballet's Season Finale

From April 20-29, San Francisco-area audiences can see Smuin Ballet at the YBCA Theater in an exciting triple bill closing out their spring season. Works include the world premiere of Val Caniparoli's If I Were A Sushi Roll, Helen Pickett's Oasis and resident choreographer Amy Seiwert's Falling up. This will be Seiwert's final season as the company's choreographer in residence before she departs to become artistic director of Sacramento Ballet. Check out this interview with her on her time with Smuin Ballet here, and get a better sense of what's on the program with the fast-paced program trailer below.


Jose Mateo's Farewell Performances

The Boston-based choreographer Jose Mateo is stepping down as artistic director of the company he founded, Jose Mateo Ballet Theatre. His farewell performances run April 6-29 before the company finishes the season. (A new director has not been named yet.) Mateo has been a staple in the Boston dance world for many years, and this final program represents an exemplary range of his work since 1991. The program, titled Moving Violations, includes Mateo's Schubert Adagio (1991), House of Ballet (1993), Timeless Attractions (2010) and the world premiere of New Parts.

Ballet Stars
Karolina Kuras, Courtesy NBoC

It's hard to imagine the National Ballet of Canada without ballerina Greta Hodgkinson. Yet this week NBoC announced that the longtime company star will take her final bow in March, as Marguerite in Sir Frederick Ashton's Marguerite and Armand.

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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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News
Alice Pennefather, Courtesy ROH

You ever just wish that Kenneth MacMillan's iconic production of Romeo and Juliet could have a beautiful love child with the 1968 film starring Olivia Hussey? (No, not Baz Luhrmann's version. We are purists here.)

Wish granted: Today, the trailer for a new film called Romeo and Juliet: Beyond Words was released, featuring MacMillan's choreography and with what looks like all the cinematic glamour we could ever dream of:

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Viral Videos

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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