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Onstage This Week: ABT Presents the American Premiere of "Jane Eyre," PNB Principals Jonathan Porretta and Rachel Foster Retire From the Stage, And More!

ABT's Devon Teuscher and James Whiteside as Jane and Rochester in Cathy Marston's Jane Eyre. Patrick Fraser, Courtesy ABT.

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


ABT Presents Cathy Marston's "Jane Eyre"

American Ballet Theatre is known as a home for classical story ballets, but this summer the company adds a more modern take to its repertoire. Cathy Marston's Jane Eyre will have its U.S. premiere June 4–10 as part of ABT's Metropolitan Opera House season in New York City. Her 2016 production, created on Northern Ballet, blends balletic and contemporary movement to tell the story of Charlotte Brontë's strong-willed protagonist. "For me it's less about technique than about the emotions that the movement is expressing," says Marston, who worked closely with Brontë's novel to bring the story to life. The ballet is a collaboration between Marston, designer Patrick Kinmonth and composer Philip Feeney, who created a score mixing original and compiled music. A co-production with The Joffrey Ballet, Jane Eyre will make its way to Chicago stages in October.

PNB's Season Encore Bids Adieu to Two Principal Dancers

On June 9 Pacific Northwest Ballet closes out its season with an Encore Performance celebrating the careers of two principal dancers—Rachel Foster and Jonathan Porretta—who are retiring from the stage. The evening reprises some of PNB's greatest hits.

A native of Pittsburgh, Foster danced at Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre from 1998-2002, when she joined PNB. She was promoted to principal in 2011. At PNB, Foster thrived in contemporary roles; this weekend she will be dancing Alejandro Cerrudo's Silent Ghost.

Porretta's retirement comes at the end of his 20th anniversary season with the company; he joined in 1999 and became a principal in 2005. Porretta and PNB artistic director Peter Boal have had a long relationship; Porretta first met Boal as a young student in the first-ever class that he taught at School of American Ballet. Porretta's final turn on the PNB stage is in the titular role of George Balanchine's Prodigal Son.

SFB Continues Its London Tour

San Francisco Ballet enters its second week at London's Sadler's Wells Theatre; performances run through June 8. The company is presenting four programs of contemporary work, mostly featuring ballets created as part of its 2018 Unbound Festival. June 5 and 8 audiences can see Stanton Welch's Bespoke, Liam Scarlett's Hummingbird and Justin Peck's Hurry Up, We're Dreaming, and from June 6-7 the company performs Trey McIntyre's Your Flesh Shall Be a Great Poem, Christopher Wheeldon's Bound To and David Dawson's Anima Animus.

Oregon Ballet Theatre Performs a Work by Alvin Ailey for the First Time

Oregon Ballet Theatre closes its season June 7-9 and June 13-15 with The Americans, a triple bill showcasing a diverse swath of American choreographers. The program features the company premiere of Alvin Ailey's Night Creature to music by Duke Ellington. This run will mark OBT's first time presenting Ailey's work. Also on deck are Trey McIntyre's Robust American Love and the world premiere of Big Shoes by Jamey Hampton and Ashley Roland, founders of the contemporary company BodyVox.

American Contemporary Ballet Presents Variations on "Raymonda"

This month, Los Angeles-based American Contemporary Ballet presents Variations on Raymonda, a side-by-side comparison of excerpts of a re-creation of Marius Petipa's original and George Balanchine's 1961 Raymonda Variations. The performances, running June 6-9 and 13-16 will include a talk by ACB artistic director Lincoln Jones on ways that Balanchine was influenced by Petipa's work.

Eifman Ballet Brings "The Pygmalion Effect" to New York

The St. Petersburg, Russia-based company Eifman Ballet continues its US tour of The Pygmalion Effect, choreographed by director Boris Eifman, at New York City Center June 7-9. The ballet is inspired by the Greek mythological tale of Pygmalion, a sculptor who falls in love with his creation, and is set to music by Johann Strauss Jr. Catch a sneak peek in the above trailer.

Bryan Koulman Presents Four New Works Featuring Dancers From PAB 

From June 6-8, Philadelphia-based contemporary ballet choreographer Bryan Koulman presents his annual season at The Performance Garage. This year's run features four new works set to live music played by members of the Philadelphia Opera Orchestra and by the jazz group Weather Report, and dancers including Pennsylvania Ballet's Albert Gordon, Sydney Dolan, Austin Eyler and Flavia Morante, Pennsylvania Ballet II's Santiago Paniagua and Lucua Erickson, Brandywine Ballet's Elizabeth Strenge and contemporary dancer Nikolai McKenzie. Catch a glimpse of McKenzie in rehearsal in the above video.

Health & Body
Emily Giacalone, modeled by Elizabeth Steele of The School at Steps.

In fall 2012, New York City Ballet associate artistic director Wendy Whelan, then a company principal, was taking morning class when her foot slid out from under her, causing her to pull the very top of what felt like her right hamstring muscle. "It shocked me from the inside out," she notes.

Whelan spent three months nursing her hamstring. But once she got back to performing, her right hip flexor began flaring up. "By the end of Nutcracker season, I could no longer bear standing in fifth position. I could not lift my right leg without severe pain," she says. "I couldn't imagine why or how this was suddenly becoming so debilitating." A sonogram revealed a complex labral tear in Whelan's hip.

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Courtesy Grishko ltd. (Moscow, Russia)

If you're one of the many American ballet dancers who loyally wear Grishko pointe shoes, you may have noticed something different about your shoes recently.

In the midst of a lawsuit, Grishko ltd. is now selling in the U.S. under the name Nikolay to reduce confusion and ensure that American dancers get the high-quality shoes they've come to expect.

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Ballet Stars

Carlos Acosta and Tamara Rojo both took The Royal Ballet by storm when they arrived at the company in 1998 and 2000, respectively. Virtuosic, enigmatic performers, the two forged a storied partnership over the course of their next decade together at The Royal. Now they've both gone on to lead the next generation of ballet dancers in England: Rojo has been the artistic director of English National Ballet since 2012, and Acosta will take the helm of Birmingham Royal Ballet in January. With this 2007 clip of their balcony scene from Sir Kenneth MacMillan's Romeo and Juliet, it's easy to see why they are already the stuff of ballet legend.

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Rachel Neville, Courtesy Audition Dancewear

When you dig through your collection of leotards before class, do you ever think about how they're made, or what they're made from? Chances are, most dancers don't, and Audition Dancewear wants to do something about that.

The company—run by two mother-daughter duos, Kathy and Caroline Perry and Shelly and Suzanna Lathrum—has begun making leotards from recycled materials to reduce their carbon footprint and raise awareness around plastic consumption. The result is a sleek line of leos that don't sacrifice style or function, and that use four or five recycled water bottles per leo.

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