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Onstage This Week: Sara Mearns at the Pillow, Another Star-Studded Week at The Joyce and More!

Sara Mearns and Honji Wang in No. 1. Photo by Christopher Duggan, Courtesy Jacob's Pillow.

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


The Joyce Theater Ballet Festival Gets the Royal Treatment

The Joyce Theater's Ballet Festival, curated by a team of colleagues from The Royal Ballet, continues this week. Program C, curated by frequent Royal Ballet designer Jean-Marc Puissant, runs August 13-15. It features artists of The Royal Ballet and American Ballet Theatre in Gemma Bond's Then and Again and excerpts from Sir Kenneth MacMillan's Elite Syncopations. Also on the program is Maurice Bejart's Song of a Wayfarer, staged by Maina Gielgud and starring ABT's David Hallberg and New York City Ballet's Joseph Gordon. The duet, about a young man and his destiny, was originally created for Rudolf Nureyev and Paolo Bortoluzzi.

Program D, curated by Royal Ballet principal Edward Watson, rounds out the festival and runs August 16-18. Watson will take the stage alongside fellow Royal principal Sarah Lamb, NYCB principal Maria Kowroski, and the ubiquitous Robbie Fairchild in a theatrical bill complete with new works by James Alsop and Laila Diallo, plus Wayne McGregor's Qualia, Javier de Fruto's duet 3 with D and Arthur Pita's Cristaux.

Sara Mearns Headlines Her Own Program at Jacob's Pillow

New York City Ballet principal Sara Mearns explores new territory August 14-18 onstage at Jacob's Pillow in her genre-blending program, Sara Mearns: Beyond Ballet. In a packed mixed bill, she'll be performing solos by Martha Graham and Christopher Williams, as well as Liz Gerring's Duet with fellow NYCB principal Ashley Bouder. The program also features the world premiere of Opulence, Mearns's collaboration with post-modern dancer Jodi Melnick, and the return of No.1, a piece created with Honji Wang of the French hip-hop duo Wang Ramirez.

The Black Iris Project Premieres in Houston with a Free Performance

The Black Iris Project, an NYC-based ballet collaborative that showcases black stories and history through dance, will give its first performance in Texas at Houston's Miller Outdoor Theatre on August 16. This free-to-the-public evening features the world premiere of Black Iris Project founding choreographer Jeremy McQueen's The Storm. The new ballet, with a cast of both Houston– and NYC–based dancers, is inspired by African American experiences of The Middle Passage, as well as the devastating Hurricanes Katrina and Harvey. Also on the program are McQueen's Black Iris and A Mother's Rite.

China’s Guangzhou Ballet Presents an Epic Program at Lincoln Center

Members of Guangzhou Ballet in Goddess of the Luo River.

Courtesy Michelle Tabnick PR

The Chinese ballet company Guangzhou Ballet tours Lincoln Center for performances August 17 and 18 at the David H. Koch Theater. The bill features two ballets of grand proportions: Carmina Burana, Chinese/American choreographer Jiang Qi's contemporary interpretation of the medieval poem, to Carl Orff's legendary score; and the Chinese folk legend Goddess of the Luo River.

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The Joffrey Ballet's Amanda Assucena and Greig Matthews in Cathy Marston's Jane Eyre. Cheryl Mann, Courtesy Joffrey Ballet.

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

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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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Herman Cornejo in Don Quixote. Gene Schiavone, Courtesy ABT.

American Ballet Theatre's fall season at Lincoln Center's Koch Theater offers a chance to see the company in shorter works and mixed-repertoire programs. This year's October 16–27 run honors principal Herman Cornejo, who's celebrating his 20th anniversary with the company. Cornejo will be featured in a special celebratory program as well as a new work by Twyla Tharp (her 17th for the company), set to Johannes Brahms' String Quartet No. 2 in G Major, Op. 111. The October 26 program will include Cornejo in a pas de deux with his sister, former ABT dancer Erica Cornejo.

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Ballet Careers
Gray Davis with wife, ABT soloist Cassandra Trenary, after his graduation from the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy. Courtesy Trenary.

When Gray Davis retired from American Ballet Theatre in July of 2018, he moved home to South Carolina, unsure of what would come next. Last month, just over a year later, Davis graduated from the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy. Today, he's working as a deputy for the Abbeville County Sheriff's Office.

Though Davis danced in ABT's corps for 11 years and is married to soloist Cassandra Trenary, to many he's best known for saving the life of a man who was pushed onto the subway tracks in New York City in 2017. The heroic effort earned him the New York State Liberty Medal, the highest civilian honor bestowed by a member of the New York State Senate. We caught up with Davis to hear about how the split second decision he made in the subway affected the course of his life, what it's been like starting a second career and what he sees as the similarities between ballet and law enforcement.

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