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Onstage This Week: Roberto Bolle's Farewell at ABT, Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival Opens with Ballet BC, and More!

Gene Schiavone, Courtesy ABT

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


Roberto Bolle Retires From ABT in "Manon"

American Ballet Theatre performs Sir Kenneth MacMillan's Manon this week for the first time since 2014. Inspired by the French novel Manon Lescaut by Antoine François Prévost, this June 17-22 run features a number of debuts, including four ballerinas in the title role: Hee Seo, Sarah Lane, Misty Copeland and Isabella Boylston.

On June 20, principal Roberto Bolle will take his final bow with ABT after dancing the role of Des Grieux, which he'll also perform on June 17. The Milan-born superstar has been dancing with the company since 2007, and has been a principal since 2009. While with ABT he's taken on full-length classics including Onegin, Romeo and Juliet, Swan Lake and Giselle. Bolle, who has guested with major companies worldwide, will continue to perform as a principal dancer étoile with La Scala ballet. Catch a glimpse of him in rehearsal with Seo above.

Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival Opens With Ballet BC

The 87th season of the Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival opens June 19-23 with Ballet BC. Hailing from Vancouver, Ballet BC returns to the Pillow with a program including artistic director Emily Molnar's To this day, the U.S. premiere of Bedroom Folk by Sharon Eyal and Gai Behar, and Medhi Walerski's Petite Cérémonie. Get ready; over the next two months, a number of ballet companies will hit the Pillow's historic stages.

National Ballet of Canada Presents "The Merry Widow"

June 19-23 National Ballet of Canada brings back Ronald Hynd's The Merry Widow, based on the 1905 operetta of the same name. The ballet tells the madcap story of Count Danilo, an aristocrat who is persuaded to marry wealthy widow Hanna Glawari. On June 22, longtime principal Xiao Nan Yu will dance Hanna in her final performance with the company.

Ballet Des Amériques Closes Its Season

Westchester, New York-based Ballet Des Amériques closes its 2018-19 season this weekend with two shows on June 23 at the Emelin Theatre in Mamaroneck, New York. The program features the company in both new and old works by artistic director Carole Alexis, as well as a performance by conservatory students in works by Alexis to Beethoven.

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Ross Brown, Courtesy RNZB

It's been several years since former Pacific Northwest Ballet star Patricia Barker took over leadership of the Royal New Zealand Ballet. In that time Barker and her husband, former PNB dancer Michael Auer, have had to acclimate themselves to a new country, a new hemisphere and a new culture.

She also noticed that RNZB had a different way of working when she took the helm in 2017. The company was then grappling with acccusations of abusive behavior and other workplace grievances by its former director, along with a few vocal New Zealanders with nationalistic agendas stirring up controversy. "The company was trying to lay low and let things blow over," she says. "You can never lay low; you just have to face your troubles head on."

Even though Barker says the turmoil had nothing to do with her, she took it on and moved the company forward by turning attention back on the art form, which she says is what matters most to audiences. And what matters to Barker with regard to that art form is creating more opportunities for female choreographers. So much so that the company's entire 2020 season will feature works choreographed by women.

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Courtesy Apolla

Ballet dancers today are asked to do more with their bodies than ever before. The physical demands of a ballet career can take an immense toll on a dancer's joints and muscles—subjecting them to pain, inflammation and an increased risk of injury. Considering all that is required of today's dancers, having a top-notch recovery regime is paramount.

Enter Apolla Performance Wear, which is meeting ballet's physical demands with a line of compression footwear that is speeding up the recovery process for professional dancers by reducing inflammation and stabilizing the joints.

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Ballet Careers
Eri Nishihara in Rex Wheeler's Symphonic Dances. Sarah Ferguson, Courtesy Richmond Ballet.

This is one of a series of stories on recent graduates' on-campus experiences—and the connections they made that jump-started their dance careers. Eri Nishihara graduated from University of Utah with a BFA in ballet performance in 2016.

As her time in high school drew to a close, Eri Nishihara knew she wasn't ready to dance professionally. She had seen dancers her age from other cities at summer intensives and didn't think that she was up to company caliber yet. "I didn't want to feel like I was having to keep up for a lack of training or experience, while adjusting to a new professional life," she says. Nishihara had trained with University of Utah professors in the past, through summer intensives at Ballet West, and felt that their teaching style would best prepare her for a future career.

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The Washington Ballet's NEXTsteps program opens this week. Here are company dancers Ashley Murphy-Wilson and Alexandros Papajohn. Procopio Photography, Courtesy The Washington Ballet.

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

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