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Onstage This Week: Stars Abound at the Fire Island Dance Festival, Maria Kochetkova Takes the Joyce and More!

Maria Kochetkova presents Catch Her If You Can at the Joyce Theater this week. Manfredi Gioacchini, Courtesy Joyce Theater.

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


Star-Studded Fire Island Dance Festival Celebrates Its 25th Anniversary 

Festival season is in full swing. July 19-21 marks Long Island's 25th Fire Island Dance Festival, a benefit series in support of Dancers Responding to AIDS. This year's line up is chock full of ballet stars and world premieres: Kyle Abraham presents an excerpt of a new work featuring American Ballet Theatre's Calvin Royal III, tap extraordinaire Michelle Dorrance debuts a world premiere featuring Robbie Fairchild, Pacific Northwest Ballet dancers Lucien Postlewaite and Christopher D'Ariano dance in a new ballet by Garrett Smith, ABT's James Whiteside has created a new work for colleagues Aran Bell and Catherine Hurlin and Christopher Wheeldon makes his Fire Island Dance Fest choreographic debut.

NYCB Returns to Its Summer Home

Saratoga Performing Arts Center has long been New York City Ballet's summer home. July 16-20, NYCB is back upstate with three varied programs: SPAC Premieres by 21st Century Choreographers, Tschaikovsky and Balanchine, and George Balanchine's Coppélia. For the past few years, NYCB dancers Peter Walker and Emily Kitka have created site-specific dance films to promote the season; check out their newest above.

Maria Kochetkova Takes the Stage at the Joyce Theater 

Since leaving San Francisco Ballet last year, Maria Kochetkova has been exploring a new path. Now she presents her own program, Catch Her If You Can, July 16–21 at New York City's Joyce Theater, dancing alongside four friends—Sebastian Kloborg, Carlo Di Lanno, Sofiane Sylve and Drew Jacoby—in works by Jacoby, Jérôme Bel, William Forsythe, David Dawson, Marco Goecke and Marcos Morau.

Newport Dance Festival Welcomes 5 Visiting Companies

July 14-21 marks Island Moving Company's Newport Dance Festival. This Rhode Island-based summer staple features five visiting companies from around the world: Thomas/Ortiz Dance, Breathing Art Company, Ballet Dallas, Matthew Westerby Company, Trainor Dance and CONTINUUM Contemporary/Ballet. All performances are held outdoors; each evening opens with live music, a Q&A and a short piece choreographed that day for a group of self-selected dancers.

Summer Intensive Survival
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There's a sweet spot toward the end of August—after summer intensives have wrapped up and before it's time to head back to school or work—where the days are long, lazy and begging to be spent neck-deep in a pile of good books. Whether you're looking for inspiration for the upcoming season or trying to brush up on your dance history, you can never go wrong with an excellent book on ballet. We've gathered eight titles (all available at common booksellers like Amazon and Barnes and Noble) guaranteed to give you a deeper understanding of the art form, to add to your end-of-summer reading list.

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James Yoichi Moore and Noelani Pantastico warm up onstage. Angela Sterling, Courtesy SDC.

On a sunny July weekend, hundreds of Seattle-area dance fans converged on tiny Vashon Island, a bucolic enclave in Puget Sound about 20 miles from the city. They made the ferry trek to attend the debut performance of the fledgling Seattle Dance Collective.

SDC is not a run-of-the-mill contemporary dance company; it's the brainchild of two of Pacific Northwest Ballet's most respected principal dancers: James Yoichi Moore and Noelani Pantastico. The duo wanted to create a nimble organization to feature dancers and choreographers they felt needed more exposure in the Pacific Northwest.

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Roman Mejia in Robbins' Dances at a Gathering. Erin Baiano, Courtesy NYCB.

The Princess Grace Foundation has just announced its 2019 class, and we're thrilled that two ballet dancers—New York City Ballet's Roman Mejia and BalletX's Stanley Glover—are included among the list of über-talented actors, filmmakers, playwrights, dancers and choreographers.

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The Royal Ballet's Alexander Campbell and Yasmine Naghdi in Ashton's The Two Pigeons. Tristram Kenton, Courtesy ROH.

While most ballet casts are 100 percent human, it's not unheard of for live animals to appear onstage, providing everything from stage dressing to supporting roles. Michael Messerer's production of Don Quixote features a horse and a donkey; American Ballet Theatre's Giselle calls for two Russian wolfhounds; and Sir Frederick Ashton's La Fille Mal Gardee requires a white Shetland pony. Another Ashton masterpiece, The Two Pigeons, is well known for its animal actors. But though ballet is a highly disciplined, carefully choreographed art form, some performers are naturally more prone to flights of fancy—because they're birds.

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