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Onstage This Week: Catherine Hurlin Stars in Joshua Beamish's Innovative @giselle, Traverse City Dance Project Takes NYC, and More!

Co-Lab Dance in Gemma Bond's THE BALLROOM. Courtesy Co-Lab Dance.

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


Joshua Beamish's New Reimagining of "Giselle" Stars Catherine Hurlin

September 5-7 marks the world premiere of Joshua Beamish/MOVETHECOMPANY's @giselle, a reimagining of the classic work set in the technological age. This new ballet, which looks at the famous story through the lens of social media and dating apps, stars American Ballet Theatre's Catherine Hurlin as Giselle, The National Ballet of Canada's Harrison James as Albrecht and Pennsylvania Ballet's Sterling Baca as Hilarion. The principal cast includes additional dancers from ABT, Ballet BC, Ballet Edmonton and Alberta Ballet II. Beamish's work makes its debut at the Vancouver Playhouse in British Columbia.

Houston Ballet Opens Fall Season with "Giselle"

After a quiet summer, the fall ballet season is finally starting up again. September 6-15, Houston Ballet presents artistic director Stanton Welch's Giselle. Choreographed after the Petipa original, Welch's version features sets and costumes by Italian designer Roberta Guidi di Bagno. In this new video, former principal Barbara Bears analyzes the titular character with current principal Yuriko Kajiya.

Texas Ballet Theater Presents "The Sleeping Beauty"

Texas Ballet Theater starts off its fall season with artistic director Ben Stevenson's The Sleeping Beauty. TBT transports audiences into this ballet's magical world September 6-8 at Dallas' Winspear Opera House, and then at Fort Worth's Bass Performance Hall October 18-20.

Co-Lab Dance Presents Its Second NYC Season

Co-Lab Dance presents its second annual New York City season this weekend, September 6-7, at Manhattan Movement and Arts Center. Founded last year by American Ballet Theatre's Lauren Post during the company's summer layoff, Co-Lab dance will present three world premieres by Gemma Bond, Danielle Rowe and Martha Graham Dance Company dancer Xin Ying. The performances will also feature a screening of At The Time, a short dance film created by ABT's Cassandra Trenary.

Traverse City Dance Project Makes Its NY Debut

The Michigan-based Traverse City Dance Project makes its New York City debut on September 5 at Brooklyn's Triskelion Arts. Led by Jennifer McQuiston Lott and Brent Whitney, the seasonal company brings together dancers from across the country. This weekend's program includes new works by Whitney, Lott and guest choreographer Austin Reynolds. Also on deck is a work by Jakevis Thomason to music by Ian Chang; The duo are the first recipients of TCDP's choreographic fellowship #Pairings, which aims to connect emerging choreographers and composers.

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Ballet West in rehearsal for Le Chant du Rossignol. Beau Pearson, Courtesy Ballet West.

Ballet West opens its season October 25–November 2 with a triptych of works from George Balanchine's early choreographic career with Sergei Diaghilev's Ballets Russes. Highlighting the program is Balanchine's 1925 The Song of the Nightingale (Le Chant du Rossignol), never before seen in the U.S. This ballet is not only the first piece that a then-21-year-old Balanchine made for the Ballets Russes; it also marks his first collaboration with Igor Stravinsky, and features costumes by Henri Matisse. To bring it to Salt Lake City, Ballet West is working closely with Millicent Hodson and Kenneth Archer, who reconstructed the work for Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo in 1999.

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Stella Abrera in Le Corsaire. Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy ABT.

American Ballet Theatre announced today that, after 24 years, beloved principal dancer Stella Abrera will retire from the stage this coming summer. Her farewell performance will be June 13, 2020, at the Metropolitan Opera House, dancing the title role in Giselle.

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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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