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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 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.

Summer Intensive Survival
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There's a sweet spot toward the end of August—after summer intensives have wrapped up and before it's time to head back to school or work—where the days are long, lazy and begging to be spent neck-deep in a pile of good books. Whether you're looking for inspiration for the upcoming season or trying to brush up on your dance history, you can never go wrong with an excellent book on ballet. We've gathered eight titles (all available at common booksellers like Amazon and Barnes and Noble) guaranteed to give you a deeper understanding of the art form, to add to your end-of-summer reading list.

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James Yoichi Moore and Noelani Pantastico warm up onstage. Angela Sterling, Courtesy SDC.

On a sunny July weekend, hundreds of Seattle-area dance fans converged on tiny Vashon Island, a bucolic enclave in Puget Sound about 20 miles from the city. They made the ferry trek to attend the debut performance of the fledgling Seattle Dance Collective.

SDC is not a run-of-the-mill contemporary dance company; it's the brainchild of two of Pacific Northwest Ballet's most respected principal dancers: James Yoichi Moore and Noelani Pantastico. The duo wanted to create a nimble organization to feature dancers and choreographers they felt needed more exposure in the Pacific Northwest.

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Roman Mejia in Robbins' Dances at a Gathering. Erin Baiano, Courtesy NYCB.

The Princess Grace Foundation has just announced its 2019 class, and we're thrilled that two ballet dancers—New York City Ballet's Roman Mejia and BalletX's Stanley Glover—are included among the list of über-talented actors, filmmakers, playwrights, dancers and choreographers.

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The Royal Ballet's Alexander Campbell and Yasmine Naghdi in Ashton's The Two Pigeons. Tristram Kenton, Courtesy ROH.

While most ballet casts are 100 percent human, it's not unheard of for live animals to appear onstage, providing everything from stage dressing to supporting roles. Michael Messerer's production of Don Quixote features a horse and a donkey; American Ballet Theatre's Giselle calls for two Russian wolfhounds; and Sir Frederick Ashton's La Fille Mal Gardee requires a white Shetland pony. Another Ashton masterpiece, The Two Pigeons, is well known for its animal actors. But though ballet is a highly disciplined, carefully choreographed art form, some performers are naturally more prone to flights of fancy—because they're birds.

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