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Onstage This Week: NYC's Fall For Dance Festival Opens, Royal Winnipeg Ballet Celebrates 80th Season with New "La Bayadère," and More!

Yi Yin, Courtesy Oregon Ballet Theatre

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


Premieres and Cross-Genre Collabs at Fall for Dance Festival

The annual Fall for Dance Festival at New York City Center kicks off on October 1. Now in its 16th year, the two-week fest will bring together 20 companies from every corner of the globe over 10 performances—and for only $15 a ticket. The first week's line-up includes three jam-packed, stylistically diverse programs. The opening bill (October 1-2) features a Kyle Abraham commission for Misty Copeland and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago in Crystal Pite's A Picture of You Falling, along with premieres by Caleb Teicher and Company and South African troupe Vuyani Dance Theatre. In program 2 (October 3-4), The Washington Ballet presents Dana Genshaft's Shadow Lands, sharing the bill with Mark Morris Dance Group, all-male Argentinian troupe Malevo and French hip-hop company Dyptik. Program 3 (October 5-6) rounds out the week, with The Mariinsky Ballet in Alexander Sergeev's At the Wrong Time and English National Ballet in Akram Khan's Dust Duet alongside Skånes Dansteater and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

A New "​La Bayadère​" Starts the Season at Royal Winnipeg Ballet

The Royal Winnipeg Ballet opens its 80th anniversary season October 2-6 with the Canadian premiere of Greg Horsman's La Bayadère at the Centennial Concert Hall. In this production, co-produced by RWB, Queensland Ballet and West Australian Ballet, Horsman seeks more authentic representation of 19th-century India, incorporating British colonial influences and elements of Indian classical dance. Listen to Horsman discuss his inspirations for this recreation in the video above.

Oregon Ballet Theatre Season Opener “ROAR(S)” with Excitement

Oregon Ballet Theatre starts its 30th anniversary season with ROAR(S), an ambitious mixed bill that pays homage to the company's history and vision for the future. On the program is Forsythe's In the middle, somewhat elevated, Balanchine's Stravinsky Violin Concerto and former OBT associate director and resident choreographer Dennis Spaight's Scheherazade. Above, watch OBT dancers rehearse with Forsythe repetiteur Agnès Noltenius. ROAR(S) opens at the Keller Auditorium in Portland October 5-6.

Ballet X Brings "The Little Prince" to The Joyce

The Philidelphia-based contemporary ballet company Ballet X returns to The Joyce Theater this week with the New York premiere of Annabelle Lopez Ochoa's The Little Prince. Ochoa, winner of the 2019 Jacob's Pillow Choreography Award, reimagined Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's classic novella as a whimsical, abstract evening-length ballet. Just like the story, the ballet resonates with audiences of all ages. The Little Prince runs October 1-6.

Colorado Ballet Takes the Stage in "Don Quixote"

Colorado Ballet begins a run of Don Quixote this weekend with performances October 4-13 at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House in Denver. The company last performed Don Q ten years ago and is bringing the ballet back to start off this year's athleticism-inspired season. Catch a peek at principals Dana Benton and Francisco Estevez rehearsing in the video above!

"Blue Suede Shoes" Arrives at Alabama Ballet

Alabama Ballet is bringing Dennis Nahat's jazzy Blue Suede Shoes to the stage in Birmingham at the BJCC Concert Hall October 4-6. The ballet, which premiered in 1996 and is set to a score of original Elvis Presley recordings, follows three friends through life changes and cultural shifts from the '50s through the '70s. The production is complete with sets and over 200 costumes by the Emmy-award winning designer Bob Mackie. Check out one of the ballet's stylized swing sequences in this rehearsal video.

American Repertory Ballet’s "Beauty and the Beast" Heads to Philly

American Repertory Ballet tours to Philadelphia on October 5 with resident choreographer Kirk Peterson's Beauty and the Beast. The company premiered this original story ballet set to a Tchaikovsky score in May, and now Philly audiences can see Beauty at Drexel's Mandell Theater this Saturday. Above, former artistic director Douglas Martin discusses the ballet's inception.

Ballet Careers
Sisters Isabella Shaker and Alexandra Pullen. Photo Courtesy Alexandra Pullen.

This is the second in a series of articles this month about ballet siblings.

My mom was in the corps de ballet at American Ballet Theatre. A generation later, so was I. As if that's not enough for one family, my younger sister Isabella Shaker dreams of following in our dancing footsteps. Her endeavor, and her status as somewhat of a child prodigy, stirs feelings of pride and apprehension within me, since I have lived through the ups and downs of this intense yet rewarding career.

Ballet will always be my first love and the thing that brings me the most joy, and my dance career has opened endless opportunities for me. However, it's a difficult career path that requires a lifelong dedication. It's super competitive and can lead to body image issues, physical injury and stress. Most dancers will face some of these problems; I definitely dealt with all three.

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Ballet Stars
Photo by Gabriel Davalos, Courtesy Valdés

For decades the name Alicia Alonso has been virtually synonymous with Ballet Nacional de Cuba, the company she co-founded in Havana in 1948. Alonso died on October 17, just shy of what would have been her 99th birthday. In recent years, she had stepped back from day-to-day decision-making in the company. As if preparing for the future, in January, the company's leading ballerina, 42-year-old Viengsay Valdés, was named deputy director, a job that seems to encompass most of the responsibilities of a traditional director. Now, presumably, she will step into her new role as director of the company. Her debut as curator of the repertory comes in November, when the troupe will perform three mixed bills selected by her at the Gran Teatro de la Habana Alicia Alonso. The following has been translated from a conversation conducted in Spanish, Valdés' native tongue.

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Ballet Stars
Photo by Jayme Thornton

It's National Bullying Prevention Month—and Houston Ballet breakout star Harper Watters is exactly the advocate young dancers facing bullying need. Watters is no novice when it comes to slaying on social media, but his Bullying Prevention Month collaboration with Teen Vogue and Instagram is him at his most raw, speaking about his own experiences with bullies, and how his love of dance helped him to overcome adversity. Watters even penned an incredible op-ed for Teen Vogue's website, where he talks candidly about growing up queer. Catch his amazing anti-bullying video here—and, as Watters says, "Stay fabulous, stay flawless, stay flexible, but most importantly, stay fearless."

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News
Alicia Alonso with Igor Youskevitch. Sedge Leblang, Courtesy Dance Magazine Archives.

Her Dying Swan was as fragile as her Juliet was rebellious; her Odile, scheming, her Swanilda, insouciant. Her Belle was joyous, and her Carmen, both brooding and full-blooded. But there was one role in particular that prompted dance critic Arnold Haskell to ask, "How do you interpret Giselle when you are Giselle?"

At eight, Alicia Alonso took her first ballet class on a stage in her native Cuba, wearing street clothes. Fifteen years later, put in for an ailing Alicia Markova in a performance of Giselle with Ballet Theatre, she staked her claim to that title role.

Alonso received recognition throughout the world for her flawless technique and her ability to become one with the characters she danced, even after she became nearly blind. After a career in New York, she and her then husband Fernando Alonso established the Cuban National Ballet and the Cuban National Ballet School, both of which grew into major international dance powerhouses and beloved institutions in their home country. On October 17, the company announced that, after leading the company for a remarkable 71 years, Alonso died from cardiovascular disease at the age of 98.

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