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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.

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Your Training
Dara Oda in Ben Stevenson's Alice in Wonderland with Texas Ballet Theater. Photo by Amitava Sarkar, Courtesy Texas Ballet Theater

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Dara Oda, Texas Ballet Theater Dancer

Photo by Max Caro, Courtesy of Texas Ballet Theater

Belhaven University, BFA in dance (ballet emphasis), 2014

Growing up, Dara Oda knew she wanted to dance professionally, but she didn't feel ready to audition at the end of high school. "It was really easy to think of college as a fallback," she says. But her perception soon changed. "When I went to Belhaven and saw the level of training I would be getting, that encouraged me to pursue my dream but also be proactive and get my degree at the same time."

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Houston Ballet demi-soloist Alyssa Springer and principal Chun Wai Chan in rehearsal at Jacob's Pillow. Via YouTube.

Houston Ballet is at Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival this week—and company soloist Harper Watters is taking us behind the scenes as the company settles in at this historic landmark. Catch HB in action on their first day of class and rehearsal, and stay tuned for more vlogs from Watters throughout the week!

Ballet Stars
Kajiya as Gamzatti in Stanton Welch's La Bayadere. Photo by Amitava Sarkar, courtesy of Houston Ballet.

Your director Stanton Welch claims that you can hover in midair.
Really? I am not sure that I can do that. I do know that I repeat things over and over because I need to find my own way with each step, and maybe the floating quality happens in there somewhere. I just do it.

If you had to pick one signature role which would it be?
Just one? I can't. I have two. One is Giselle, because she's a human and not a creature, and people can relate to love and heartbreak. Stanton's Madame Butterfly is also important to me, because I met him when I was 17 and had heard that he thought I would be great in the role. I finally danced it in 2016 and it's a spectacular part.

Kajiya as Giselle in Stanton Welch's "Giselle." Photo by Amitava Sarkar, courtesy of Houston Ballet.

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Pacific Northwest Ballet School Professional Division students take Eva Stone's modern dance class. Photo by Lindsay Thomas, Courtesy PNB.

"Who here is terrified of choreographing?"

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The company is searching for an artistic director who is "humane"—and who might not be a choreographer. Photo by Paul Kolnik

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Until now, we've only known a bit about what the search for a new leader looks like. But yesterday, The New York Times reported that the company has released a job description for the position. Though the full posting isn't available to the public, here's what we're able to discern about the new leader and what this means for the future of NYCB:

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Lia Cirio and John Lam perform Tar and Feathers with Boston Ballet. Photo by Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy Boston Ballet.

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Genée IBC gold medalist Monet Hewitt of New Zealand. Photo by Keith Sin, Courtesy Royal Academy of Dance.

If you missed the Genée International Ballet Competition's live-streamed finals this weekend, we've got you covered. Last night, 17-year-old Joshua Green of Australia and 16-year-old Monet Hewitt of New Zealand were named this year's gold medalists in the men's and women's category, out of 14 finalists. Caitlin Garlick (Australia) and Basil James (United Kingdom) won silver medals, while Enoka Sato (Japan) and Jordan Yeuk Hay Chan (Hong Kong) took home bronze. Chan also won the Margot Fonteyn Audience Choice Award, and Green was given the Choreographic Award for Dancer's Own Variation.

Gold medalist Joshua Green. Photo by Keith Sin, Courtesy RAD.

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News
Boston Ballet is bringing Jerome Robbins' Fancy Free to the Tanglewood Music Center in Lenox, MA. Photo by Gene Shiavone, Courtesy Boston Ballet.

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


Houston Ballet Brings a World Premiere to Jacob's Pillow

August 15-18, for the first time in almost four decades, Houston Ballet is appearing at Jacob's Pillow, the famous summer dance festival in Becket, MA. Headlining the program is Just, a world premiere commissioned by the Pillow and choreographed by HB artistic director Stanton Welch, set to music by contemporary composer David Lang. Also from Welch are Clear, an abstract piece for seven men and seven women, and excerpts from Sons de L'ame, with music by Chopin. The company will also perform In Dreams, choreographed by former Pillow choreographic associate Trey McIntyre.

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