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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.

Ballet Stars
From left: Douane Gosa, Gianni Goffredo, James Whiteside, Maxfield Haynes and Matthew Poppe in WTF. Yo Poosh, Courtesy Kimberly Giannelli PR.

We've always known that Madonna loves dance. After all, the "Queen of Pop" studied at the Martha Graham School in the 1970s. Nevertheless, we were still surprised (and thrilled) to see that she invited James Whiteside to perform at her 61st birthday party in The Hamptons last weekend.

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Modeled by Daria Ionova. Darian Volkova, Courtesy Elevé Dancewear.
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Boston Ballet's Kathleen Breen Combes, María Álvarez and Dawn Atkins. Christopher Duggan, Courtesy Jacob's Pillow.

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

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Ballet Stars
Alexandra MacDonald (front row, third from left) didn't win a medal at the Genée International Ballet Competition, but says she came home inspired and newly motivated by the people she met there. Photo Courtesy Genée IBC.

Ballet competitions are an exciting part of any dancer's career. Yet while scholarships, prize money, job offers and the prestige that comes with winning a medal are compelling incentives to participate in one, they're not the only benefits. In fact, many dancers who go home empty-handed still look fondly on the experience and go on to become successful professionals.

This week, the 2019 Genée International Ballet Competition kicks off in Toronto. From August 20-29, over 50 dancers, ages 15–19 and trained in the Royal Academy of Dance syllabus, will perform three solos in the hopes of winning a medal and a $10,000 cash prize. Many past medalists have gone on to illustrious careers—but so have those who didn't win anything. We spoke with three Genée alumni now dancing professionally who know what it's like not to place. Read on to find out why they deem their comp experiences a success, and how you can make the most of yours—whether you win or not.

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