News

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 Training
Kali Kleiman performing at YAGP's New York Finals. VAM Productions, Courtesy YAGP.

As someone who has judged many ballet competitions, I've had the opportunity to see some breathtaking contemporary solos that combine fantastic technique with well-conceived choreography. Yet it's often hard for us judges to see the artistic intention behind these solos the way we can when watching a classical variation. For one thing, we're simply more familiar with classical ballet's repertoire and characters. But also, when a contemporary solo is just a string of one trick after another, or only delivers one emotion (such as overwrought angst), we don't get to see any artistic depth.

Keep reading... Show less
Francisco Estevez, Courtesy Colorado Ballet Academy

When you're looking for a ballet program to take you to the next level, there are a lot of factors to consider. While it's tempting to look for the biggest name that will accept you, the savvy dancer knows that successful training has more to do with the attention and opportunities you'll get.

We put together a few of the most important things for dancers to look for in a summer or year-round training program, with the help of the experts at Colorado Ballet Academy:

Keep reading... Show less
Ballet Stars
Elle Macy in Benjamin Millepied's Appassionata. Angela Sterling, Courtesy PNB.

Cross-training misconceptions: Before Elle Macy became an apprentice with Pacific Northwest Ballet, she was apprehensive about cross-training. "I was warned that it might bulk you, or not to do certain activities because they could potentially injure you." But a stress fracture in her foot changed her perspective. Unable to bear much weight, Macy reluctantly tried stationary biking at her physical therapist's suggestion. "What I learned is that you're not going to get injured from being on an elliptical for 20 minutes or by taking a Pilates class," says Macy. Today, it's not uncommon to find the soloist training on the elliptical, doing ankle stability exercises, using the Pilates reformer or taking a hot yoga class.

Keep reading... Show less
Courtesy School of Pennsylvania Ballet

While many of us are deep in Nutcracker duties, The School of Pennsylvania Ballet director James Payne has been looking further ahead, finalizing preparations for the school's summer intensive programs. In January, he and his staff will embark on a 24-city audition tour to scour the country for the best young dancers, deciding whether or not to offer them a spot—maybe even a scholarship—in the school's rigorous 5-week intensive focused on high-caliber ballet instruction. Though he'll be evaluating aspirants, he urges that as a student, you should be equally selective in choosing programs that could galvanize your training—and possibly even your career.

We got Payne's advice on strategizing your summer intensive plan before the audition cycle kicks in:

Keep reading... Show less