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Onstage This Week: ABT Fall Season Opens, NBoC Tours to Russia for the First Time, and Much More!

Joffrey Ballet's April Daly, Yoshihisa Arai and Amanda Assucena in Christopher Wheeldon's Swan Lake. Assucena will make her debut in the role of Odette/Odile this week. Photo by Cheryl Mann, Courtesy Joffrey.

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


ABT's Fall Season Opens With Two World Premieres 

After American Ballet Theatre's leisurely eight-week long summer run, their fall stint at Lincoln Center's Koch Theater goes by in a flash. Running October 17-28, the season puts an emphasis on female choreographers as part of the company's new Women's Movement. Week one includes two world premieres: one by tap extraordinaire Michelle Dorrance titled Dream within a Dream (deferred) and the other by Jessica Lang titled Garden Blue. Also on the program are works by Jerome Robbins, George Balanchine, Twyla Tharp, Alexei Ratmansky and Lauren Lovette. We can't get enough of ABT's season trailer; watch it now!

National Ballet of Canada Tours to Russia for the First Time Ever 

This week National Ballet of Canada heads to Russia for the first time in its nearly 70-year history. They'll perform at the Stanislavsky Theatre in Moscow October 15-16 and at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg as part of Diana Vishneva's Context festival on October 19. NBoC is bringing three contemporary ballets on this historic tour: Justin Peck's Paz de la Jolla, Guillaume Côté's Being and Nothingness and Crystal Pite's Emergence. Catch a glimpse of the company in Paz de la Jolla in the above trailer.

Joffrey Ballet Brings Back Christopher Wheeldon's "Swan Lake"

October 17-28, Joffrey Ballet brings back an audience favorite: Christopher Wheeldon's Swan Lake. First performed by the company in 2014, Wheeldon's re-telling is a modern-day take on the storied classic set in the studios of the Paris Opéra Ballet. Above, hear former Pointe cover star Amanda Assucena discuss her debut as Odette/Odile.

Grand Rapids Ballet Presents First Show Under New Artistic Director James Sofranko

Grand Rapids Ballet's 2018-19 season opens October 19-21 with a program titled Wild Sweet Love. The first show under the direction of James Sofranko, Wild Sweet Love features three diverse works: George Balanchine's Allegro Brillante, Trey McIntyre's Wild Sweet Love and Penny Saunders' Ghost Light. Can't wait? On October 18, GRB is holding a gala performance which will include showings of the above works as well as a world premiere by Sofranko himself.

Karole Armitage Presents Two New Works at National Sawdust

Karole Armitage, known as the "punk ballerina," debuts two new works with her group Armitage Gone! Dance at the Brooklyn-based National Sawdust on October 20. Titled Art of the In-Between, the program features Día de los Muertos, which explores the Mexican holiday through humor. Also on the bill is Donkey Jaw Bone, based on the theatricality of the Latin American wrestling practice, Lucha Libre.

Nashville Ballet Celebrates Halloween With "Seven Deadly Sins" 

Nashville Ballet gets into the Halloween spirit October 18-20 with a program including two works: Resident choreographer Christopher Stuart's Seven Deadly Sins and Jennifer Archibald's Superstitions. Both ballets feature original scores by Nashville-based artists. Seven Deadly Sins is a collaboration with the singer-songwriter collective Ten Out of Tenn, who will play live with the company this week. Superstitions' score is by frequent dance composer Cristina Spinei.

Ballet Fantastique's Wild West Ballet "As You Like It" Returns

October 19-21, Eugene, Oregon-based dance theater company Ballet Fantastique brings back As You Like It: A Wild West Ballet. Choreographed by mother-daughter duo Donna and Hannah Bontrager, As You Like It takes Shakespeare's famous comedy and sets it in the Wild West with a live honkey-tonk saloon piano playing American hits. Catch a peek with the above rehearsal footage.

Ballet 5:8 Presents Reimagination of C.S. Lewis at Chicago's Athenaeum Theatre

The faith-based company Ballet 5:8 returns to Chicago's Athanaeum Theatre October 20-21 with a program featuring two works by artistic director Julianna Rubio Slager. The Space In Between, Slager's newest work, is inspired by C.S. Lewis' The Great Divorce and explores the author's concept of hell. Also on the program is Slager's Four Seasons of the Soul, which connects nature's seasons to Slager's spiritual and religious life.

Ballet Careers
Lenai Alexis Wilkerson. Christopher Duggan, Courtesy Michelle Tabnick Public Relations.

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. Lenai Alexis Wilkerson graduated from University of Southern California with a BFA in dance (dance performance concentration) and a political science minor in 2019.

As Lenai Alexis Wilkerson looked at colleges, she wanted a school that would prepare her for two totally different professions: dancing and law. "I knew, pretty much when I was 16, that I wanted to go to law school," she says. "So I wanted the opportunity to have a dual college experience, where I could have a conservatory training style within a university and I could focus equally on my academics." When she auditioned for the inaugural class of University of Southern California's Glorya Kaufman School of Dance, she knew it was the right fit.

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Sponsored by Ballet Arizona
Tzu Chia Huang, Courtesy Ballet Arizona

These days, ballet dancers are asked to do more than they ever have—whether that's tackling versatile rep, taking on intense cross-training regimens or managing everything from their Instagram pages to their summer layoff gigs.

Without proper training, these demands can take a toll on both the mind and the body. But students can start preparing for them early—with the right summer intensive program.

The School of Ballet Arizona's summer intensive takes a well-rounded approach to training—not just focusing on technique and facility but nurturing overall dancer growth. "You cannot make a dancer just by screaming at them like they used to," says master ballet teacher Roberto Muñoz, who guests at the program every summer. "You have to take care of the person as well."

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News
Nicolas Pelletier in Carmina Burana. Francisco Estevez, Courtesy Colorado Ballet.

Last week, Colorado Ballet interrupted Nutcracker rehearsals for an exciting announcement: Four dancers were being promoted. Though all made the jump from the company's corps de ballet, Nicolas Pelletier ascended directly to the rank of soloist, while Sean Omandam, Emily Speed and Melissa Zoebisch were promoted to demi-soloist. This news comes hot on the heels of last August's promotion of Francisco Estevez to principal.

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Courtesy School of Pennsylvania Ballet

While many of us are deep in Nutcracker duties, The School of Pennsylvania Ballet director James Payne has been looking further ahead, finalizing preparations for the school's summer intensive programs. In January, he and his staff will embark on a 24-city audition tour to scour the country for the best young dancers, deciding whether or not to offer them a spot—maybe even a scholarship—in the school's rigorous 5-week intensive focused on high-caliber ballet instruction. Though he'll be evaluating aspirants, he urges that as a student, you should be equally selective in choosing programs that could galvanize your training—and possibly even your career.

We got Payne's advice on strategizing your summer intensive plan before the audition cycle kicks in:

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