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Onstage This Week: NYCB's 2019-20 Season Opens, Claudia Schreier World Premiere at Atlanta Ballet, and More!

Gene Schiavone, Courtesy Boston Ballet

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


New York City Ballet's Fall Season Opens With "Jewels"

New York City Ballet's four-week fall season opens September 17. The first week alternates between two different programs. The first is George Balanchine's glamorous full-length Jewels, and the second is a mixed bill featuring Balanchine's Raymonda Variations and his avant-garde Variations Pour une Porte et un Soupir, as well as Christopher Wheeldon's DGV: Danse à Grande Vitesse.

Claudia Schreier World Premiere Highlights Atlanta Ballet Mixed Bill

Atlanta Ballet's 2019-20 season opens with a collection of emotionally-charged works September 20-22. The program includes Ricardo Amarante's Love Fear Loss, Liam Scarlett's Vespertine, the world premiere of Claudia Schreier's First Impulse and Dwight Rhoden's Woke (Excerpts). Rhoden's work will be danced by guest artists from Complexions Contemporary Ballet, giving audiences a taste of Rhoden's style before he returns to Atlanta in February to create a new work for the company.

Two World Premieres Take Center Stage in Houston

Houston Ballet presents a mixed repertoire program September 19-29 with the tagline: "Locally grown. World renowned." The bill features four works, including two world premieres. First up are James Kudelka's Passion and Edwaard Liang's Murmuration. These are followed by Houston Ballet soloist Oliver Halkowich's first solo choreographic work for the company, and a world premiere by modern choreographer Zhang Disha.

Boston Ballet Brings Back "Giselle" 

Boston Ballet brings back a classic September 19-29: Giselle, adapted by former principal dancer and current ballet master Larissa Ponomarenko. The company has released a series of videos leading up to the run, including spotlights on the characters of Myrtha and Albrecht, but our favorite is obviously the above introduction to Griffin, who will playing the role of the Irish Wolfhound (for which he's always in character).

"Romeo and Juliet" Returns to Nashville Ballet

Nashville Ballet starts off its season with artistic director Paul Vasterling's Romeo and Juliet. William Shakespeare's famously star-crossed lovers get their turn on the stage September 20-22; check out the dramatic trailer above.

"Carmina Burana" Opens Ballet Austin's 2019-20 Season

Ballet Austin artistic director Stephen Mill's full-length Carmina Burana opens the company's season September 20-22. Mills' production features Carl Off's famous score performed live by Conspirare Symphonic Choir, Conspirare Youth Choirs and Austin Symphony Orchestra.

Company Dancer Rex Wheeler Presents World Premiere at Smuin Ballet

September 20-21, Smuin Ballet brings its Dance Series 01 to the Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek, CA. The triple bill includes James Kudelka's The Man in Black, Michael Smuin's Carmina Burana and the world premiere of company member Rex Wheeler's Take Five.

American Repertory Ballet's Mixed Rep Program Includes World Premiere by Riccardo de Nigris

American Repertory Ballet kicks of its season September 20-22 at the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center, the company's brand new full-time home, with four versatile works. The New Heights program includes Paul Taylor's Airs, Ethan Stiefel's Overture, the world premiere of Riccardo De Nigris' Beyond the Normal and Septime Webre's Fluctuating Hemlines.

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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