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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.

News
Alice Pennefather, Courtesy ROH

You ever just wish that Kenneth MacMillan's iconic production of Romeo and Juliet could have a beautiful love child with the 1968 film starring Olivia Hussey? (No, not Baz Luhrmann's version. We are purists here.)

Wish granted: Today, the trailer for a new film called Romeo and Juliet: Beyond Words was released, featuring MacMillan's choreography and with what looks like all the cinematic glamour we could ever dream of:

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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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Viral Videos

What do Diana Vishneva, Olga Smirnova, Kristina Shapran and Maria Khoreva all have in common? These women, among the most impressive talents to graduate from the Vaganova Ballet Academy in recent years, all studied under legendary professor Lyudmila Kovaleva. Kovaleva, a former dancer with the Kirov Ballet (now the Mariinsky), is beloved by her students and admired throughout the ballet world for her ability to pull individuality and artistry out of the dancers she trains. Like any great teacher, Kovaleva is remarkably generous with her wealth of knowledge; it seems perfect, then, that she appears as the Fairy of Generosity in this clip from a 1964 film of the Kirov's The Sleeping Beauty.

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Ballet Careers
Ali Cameron, Courtesy Queensland Ballet

An artistic director's position was far from Li Cunxin's mind when the Brisbane-based Queensland Ballet came calling in 2012. Since his retirement from the stage in 1999, the Chinese-Australian dancer had embarked on a highly successful career at the helm of a stockbroking firm. His wife, former dancer and current Queensland ballet mistress Mary McKendry Li, changed his mind, Li remembers. "She said, 'Wouldn't it be nice to give something back to the art form that we both have benefited so much from?' "

Seven years later, Li's contribution has been dramatic. Queensland Ballet, once a struggling choreographer-led company, has become one of Australia's most exciting repertoire ensembles, with Liam Scarlett on board as artistic associate. The budget has more than quadrupled, to over $20 million USD, and Li has launched not one but three major construction projects, with world-class headquarters, a theater and a new academy all in progress.

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