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Onstage This Week: Houston Ballet Tours to Dubai, San Francisco Ballet at the Kennedy Center, World Premieres in Memphis and More!

San Francisco Ballet is bringing six works from their Unbound: A Festival of New Works to The Kennedy Center this week. Here, dancers are pictured in Christopher Wheeldon's Bound To. Photo by Erik Tomasson, Courtesy The Kennedy Center.

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


Houston Ballet Tours to Dubai 

This week Houston Ballet heads a little farther afield than usual. October 24-27 the company tours to Dubai, making them the first American ballet company to perform at the Dubai Opera House. The company is bringing a classic to the Middle Eastern city: artistic director Stanton Welch's Swan Lake. Catch principals Yuriko Kajiya and Chun Wai Chan in this clip from the Black Swan Pas De Deux.

Jerome Robbins' Experimental Full-Length Ballet Returns to the Stage 

Jerome Robbins' centennial year has included performances of some of the famed choreographer's most seminal works at companies around the world. October 24-27, the Brooklyn Academy of Music digs deeper into Robbins' oeuvre by presenting Watermill, a full-length experimental ballet inspired by Japanese Noh theater that hasn't been staged in nearly half a century. Watermill stars former New York City Ballet principal Joaquin De Luz, who retired from the company just two weeks ago.

San Francisco Ballet Brings 6 East Coast Premieres to the Kennedy Center 

Last spring, San Francisco Ballet wowed Bay Area audiences with Unbound: A Festival of New Works. Now SFB is bringing six of the festival's ballets to The Kennedy Center October 23-28, marking their East Coast premieres. Program A includes ballets by Trey McIntyre, Christopher Wheeldon and David Dawson, and Program B features pieces by Edwaard Liang, Cathy Marston and Justin Peck.

Ballet Memphis Collaborates with Local Musicians to Present 2 World Premieres

October 26-November 4 marks Ballet Memphis' inaugural Memphis Project, a brand new collaboration between the company and local musicians that honors the city's musical legacy. This program includes Trey McIntyre's reworked Memphis Suite to a score by a variety of artists, as well as two premieres: former Alvin Ailey dancer Alia Kache's new work to an original score by Julien Baker, and associate artistic director Steven McMahon's new collaboration with the record label Unapologetic.

Sarasota Ballet Presents the Company Premiere of Martha Graham's ​"Appalachian Spring​"

Sarasota Ballet opens their 2019 season October 26-28 with a diverse triple bill. The program features the company premiere of Martha Graham's iconic 1944 collaboration with composer Aaron Copland, Appalachian Spring. Also on deck are Ricardo Graziano's Symphony of Sorrows and Galina Samsova's production of Paquita. Be transported into dance history with this early clip of the Martha Graham Dance Company performing Appalachian Spring, which stars Graham herself as The Bride.

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre Bids Farewell to Principal Julia Erickson with All Mozart Program

Longtime Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre principal Julia Erickson retires from PBT this weekend during the company's Mozart in Motion program October 26-28. The program features three works spanning past to present, all to Mozart: George Balanchine's Divertimento No. 15 and Jiří Kylián's Sechs Tänze and Petite Mort. In the above video, Erickson discusses why these works are meaningful to her.

BalletMet Presents Short Ballets by Three New York-Based Choreographers

BalletMet's Lineage: A Collection of Short Ballets program runs October 26-November 3 and features three short works by New York choreographers originally created for New York City Ballet: George Balanchine's Square Dance, Christopher Wheeldon's romantic After the Rain pas de deux and Justin Peck's In Creases. Above, artistic director Edwaard Liang discusses After the Rain.

Story Ballets Galore! 

Beasts, fairies, pirates... Halloween seems like the perfect time of the year for story ballets. This week, four companies bring back beloved classics. On the spookier side of things is Nevada Ballet Theatre's production of Ben Stevenson's Dracula, running October 25-28. Click through for more!

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Boston Ballet's Kathleen Breen Combes, María Álvarez and Dawn Atkins. Christopher Duggan, Courtesy Jacob's Pillow.

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

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Ballet Stars
Alexandra MacDonald (front row, third from left) didn't win a medal at the Genée International Ballet Competition, but says she came home inspired and newly motivated by the people she met there. Photo Courtesy Genée IBC.

Ballet competitions are an exciting part of any dancer's career. Yet while scholarships, prize money, job offers and the prestige that comes with winning a medal are compelling incentives to participate in one, they're not the only benefits. In fact, many dancers who go home empty-handed still look fondly on the experience and go on to become successful professionals.

This week, the 2019 Genée International Ballet Competition kicks off in Toronto. From August 20-29, over 50 dancers, ages 15–19 and trained in the Royal Academy of Dance syllabus, will perform three solos in the hopes of winning a medal and a $10,000 cash prize. Many past medalists have gone on to illustrious careers—but so have those who didn't win anything. We spoke with three Genée alumni now dancing professionally who know what it's like not to place. Read on to find out why they deem their comp experiences a success, and how you can make the most of yours—whether you win or not.

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Ballet Stars
Skylar Brandt and Josephine Lee. Screenshot Courtesy Lee.

Master pointe shoe fitter Josephine Lee of the California-based ThePointeShop chats with American Ballet Theatre soloist Skylar Brandt to hear about how she prepares her pointe shoes. We think Brandt might win an award for how long she makes her shoes last; watch the below video for the staggering number of days (or weeks!), and to hear about all of her unique customizations and pro tips.

Courtesy Chiara Valle

Chiara Valle is just one of many dancers heading back to the studio this fall as companies ramp up for the season. But her journey back has been far more difficult than most.

Valle has been a trainee at The Washington Ballet since 2016, starting at the same time as artistic director Julie Kent. But only a few months into her first season there, she started experiencing excruciating pain high up in her femur. "It felt like someone was stabbing me 24/7," she says. Sometimes at night, the pain got so bad that her roommates would bring her dinner to the bathtub.

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