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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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Alicia Alonso with Igor Youskevitch. Sedge Leblang, Courtesy Dance Magazine Archives.

Her Dying Swan was as fragile as her Juliet was rebellious; her Odile, scheming, her Swanilda, insouciant. Her Belle was joyous, and her Carmen, both brooding and full-blooded. But there was one role in particular that prompted dance critic Arnold Haskell to ask, "How do you interpret Giselle when you are Giselle?"

At eight, Alicia Alonso took her first ballet class on a stage in her native Cuba, wearing street clothes. Fifteen years later, put in for an ailing Alicia Markova in a performance of Giselle at New York's Metropolitan Opera House, she staked her claim to that title role.

Alonso received recognition throughout the world for her flawless technique and her ability to become one with the characters she danced, even after she became nearly blind. After a career in New York, she and her then husband Fernando Alonso established the Cuban National Ballet and the Cuban National Ballet School, both of which grew into major international dance powerhouses and beloved institutions in their home country. On October 17, the company announced that, after leading the company for a remarkable 71 years, Alonso died from cardiovascular disease at the age of 98.

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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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Sir Anthony Dowell dedicated four decades for his life to The Royal Ballet, first as a principal dancer, and then as the company's artistic director. His monumental career is a testament to his love for the art form. That love can also be seen in this solo from a 1980 performance of Dutch choreographer Hans van Manen's Four Schumann Pieces, created for the company five years earlier. Van Manen's choreography slips in and out of pedestrian and balletic vocabulary. Dowell demonstrates his virtuosity by ascending into sublime classical shapes without an intimation of effort.

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During one of Charlotte Nash's first few weeks with Houston Ballet II, she was thrown into a run-through of Balanchine's Theme and Variations. "I had never really understudied before and I didn't know what I was doing," she says. "I fell right away and was quickly replaced." For Nash, now a dancer with Festival Ballet Providence, the episode was a tough lesson. "I was mortified, but then I said to myself, 'Okay, I need to figure out how to learn things more quickly.'"

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