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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?.

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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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Ballet Stars
Skylar Brandt and Josephine Lee. Screenshot Courtesy Lee.

Master pointe shoe fitter Josephine Lee of the California-based ThePointeShop chats with American Ballet Theatre soloist Skylar Brandt to hear about how she prepares her pointe shoes. We think Brandt might win an award for how long she makes her shoes last; watch the below video for the staggering number of days (or weeks!), and to hear about all of her unique customizations and pro tips.

Courtesy Chiara Valle

Chiara Valle is just one of many dancers heading back to the studio this fall as companies ramp up for the season. But her journey back has been far more difficult than most.

Valle has been a trainee at The Washington Ballet since 2016, starting at the same time as artistic director Julie Kent. But only a few months into her first season there, she started experiencing excruciating pain high up in her femur. "It felt like someone was stabbing me 24/7," she says. Sometimes at night, the pain got so bad that her roommates would bring her dinner to the bathtub.

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