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Onstage This Week: Justin Peck World Premiere at NYCB, The Beatles, Fred & Ginger, and More!

American Contemporary Ballet presents five Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers duets this week. Victor Demarchelier, Courtesy ACB.

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


NYCB Presents a World Premiere by Justin Peck to a Commissioned Score by Sufjan Stevens 

January 31 marks an exciting night in New York City Ballet's winter season with a triple bill titled New Combinations featuring Kyle Abraham's The Runaway, William Forsythe's Herman Schmerman and Justin Peck's Principia.

The Runaway, which includes music by Jay-Z and Kanye West (artists seldom heard on ballet stages), returns after its smash success at NYCB's Fall 2018 Fashion Gala. And Forsythe's Herman Schmerman, an abstract work for five dancers set to a Thom Willems electronic score, is back in its entirety for the first time since 1994.

The pièce de résistance is the world premiere of Justin Peck's Principia. The ballet, featuring 24 dancers, highlights the talents of a number of frequent Peck collaborators including composer Sufjan Stevens, costume designers Reid Bartelme and Harriet Jung and set designer Karl Jensen. Check out a preview above!

ABT Brings "Harlequinade" to The Kennedy Center

American Ballet Theatre is back on the road this week. The company presents the DC premiere of Alexei Ratmansky's Harlequinade at The Kennedy Center January 29-February 3. Catch excerpts of this delightful commedia dell'arte ballet (featuring vivid, striking costumes by Robert Perdziola) in the above trailer.

BalletBoyz Presents the New York Premiere of "Young Men"


January 29-February 3 marks the New York premiere of British-based all-male company BalletBoyz' multimedia dance experience Young Men at the Joyce Theater. Choreographed by Netherlands-based dancemaker Iván Pérez, Young Men had its debut at London's Sadlers Wells in 2015. It tells the story of soldiers fighting in World War I, and is interwoven with a feature length film of the same name.

Columbia City Ballet Premieres "Beatles The Ballet"

This week Columbia City Ballet explores the careers of one of the world's most famous bands: The Beatles. This multimedia production was conceived of by CCB executive and artistic director William Starrett, and it features more than 35 songs and choreography by multiple artists. Beatles The Ballet follows the Beatles' careers starting in the 1960s, and examines the role they played in the era's cultural revolution. Beatles The Ballet opens in Columbia, SC, on February 2 and then travels to Hamlet, NC, February 5 and Camden, SC, February 9.

World Premiere Opens at Carolina Ballet, in Time for Valentine's Day

Carolina Ballet artistic director Robert Weiss debuts his new work, Love in the Times of the Day on January 31. Running weekends through February 17, the ballet is based on paintings by Czech artist Alfonse Mucha that Weiss saw on a visit to Prague. The work features a commissioned score by J. Mark Scearse and is being billed as a "ballet for lovers" (after all, Valentine's Day is just around the corner). The program also features Weiss' Time Gallery.

Company Premiere of "The Wizard of Oz" at Colorado Ballet

February 1-10, Colorado Ballet presents the company debut of Septime Webre's The Wizard of Oz. The ballet is a joint production with Kansas City Ballet and Royal Winnipeg Ballet. Featuring original music by Matthew Pierce, this re-telling of the classic children's story is sure to thrill audiences of all ages. Check out this behind-the-scenes glimpse with Webre above.

"The Sleeping Beauty" is Back at PNB

Pacific Northwest Ballet brings back a classic February 1-10: Ronald Hynd's The Sleeping Beauty. After performing it for nearly 20 years, this will be PNB's final run of this production. The company will announce a new version of The Sleeping Beauty later this year.

Missed PNB's livestream of Sleeping Beauty rehearsal last week? Catch it above now!

Smuin Contemporary Ballet's Dance Series 01 Features Works by Company Dancers

Smuin Contemporary Ballet's Dance Series 01 program runs February 1-2 at the Sunset Center in Carmel, CA, with a mixed bill of six works. First up are Trey McIntyre's Blue Until June, set to vocals by Etta James, and founding director Michael Smuin's The Eternal Idol and Schubert Scherzo. Rounding out the program are three works by company dancers being performed on a main stage for the first time: Nicole Haskins' Merely Players, Ben Needham-Wood's Echo and Rex Wheeler's Sinfonietta.

American Contemporary Ballet Celebrates Valentine's Day in Style

Los Angeles-based American Contemporary Ballet presents Astaire Dances 2: Fred & Ginger from February 2-17 at the Cooper Design Space in downtown LA. The program pulls five of Fred Astaire and Ginger Roger's best-loved dances off of the silver screen and onto the stage. They're paired with the jazzy suite from George Balanchine's Who Cares?.

Ballet Careers
Gray Davis with wife, ABT soloist Cassandra Trenary, after his graduation from the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy. Courtesy Trenary.

When Gray Davis retired from American Ballet Theatre in July of 2018, he moved home to South Carolina, unsure of what would come next. Last month, just over a year later, Davis graduated from the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy. Today, he's working as a deputy for the Abbeville County Sheriff's Office.

Though Davis danced in ABT's corps for 11 years and is married to soloist Cassandra Trenary, to many he's best known for saving the life of a man who was pushed onto the subway tracks in New York City in 2017. The heroic effort earned him the New York State Liberty Medal, the highest civilian honor bestowed by a member of the New York State Senate. We caught up with Davis to hear about how the split second decision he made in the subway affected the course of his life, what it's been like starting a second career and what he sees as the similarities between ballet and law enforcement.

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Sponsored by BLOCH
Courtesy BLOCH

Today's ballet dancer needs a lot from a pointe shoe. "What I did 20 years ago is not what these dancers are doing now," says New York City Ballet shoe manager Linnette Roe. "They are expected to go harder, longer days. They are expected to go from sneakers, to pointe shoes, to character shoes, to barefoot and back to pointe shoes all in a day."

The team at BLOCH developed their line of Stretch Pointe shoes to address dancer's most common complaints about the fit and performance of their pointe shoes. "It's a scientific take on the pointe shoe," says Roe. Dancers are taking notice and Stretch Pointe shoes are now worn by stars like American Ballet Theatre principal Isabella Boylston, who stars in BLOCH's latest campaign for the shoes.

We dug into the details of Stretch Pointe's most game-changing features:

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Ballet Stars
Megan Amanda Ehrlich, Courtesy LEAP Program

Claire Sheridan wanted to change the status quo. Leading up to the 1990s, she recalls, "there was a 'shut up and dance' mind-set," and as the founder of the dance program at St. Mary's College of California and a longtime teacher in professional companies, she had seen too many dancers retire with no plan for a successful career transition. "At that time, if you thought about education and the future," she says, "you were not a committed dancer. I wanted to fight that."

With the support of St. Mary's, Sheridan developed the Liberal Education for Arts Professionals program, or LEAP, an innovative liberal-arts bachelor's degree program designed especially for professional dancers. She first presented her idea to executives at San Francisco Ballet. "Kudos to that company, because they said, 'This is great,'" she says. "Eleven of the first 18 dancers who started in August 1999 were from SFB."

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Ballet Training
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I'm a college freshman, and my dance program isn't challenging enough. We only have ballet three times a week and a few hours of modern, and my classmates aren't as dedicated as I am. There's a small dance company nearby, where I was hoping to take extra classes, but I don't have a car. I want to transfer, but I feel like I won't be in good enough shape for auditions. —Tara

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