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Onstage This Week: Justin Peck Makes His Vail Dance Fest Choreographic Debut, Two Premieres at American Contemporary Ballet, and More!

Patricia Delgado in Pam Tanowitz's "Solo for Patricia 2017." Photo by Erin Baiano, Courtesy Vail Dance Festival.

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


Vail Dance Fest Enters Its Second Week

With half a month devoted to creating new art in the midst of stunning nature, Vail Dance Festival seems a dancer's paradise. Last week marked American Ballet Theatre's festival debut. The second week of performances, starting July 30, brings even more amazing ballet, with dancers and choreographers presenting a slew of new collaborations and premieres. Get the scoop on each program below.

Alonzo King LINES Ballet Takes the Vail Stage

July 30-31, Alonzo King LINES Ballet presents two different programs. The first performance, is a free, family-friendly event held in the Avon Performance Pavilion. The second, held at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, presents two works by King: Sand, a piece from 2016 set to jazz music, and Biophony, an exploration of the Earth's diverse ecosystems.


Justin Peck Makes His Vail Choreographic Debut

UpClose, a program devoted to festival debuts held August 1, is curated by Vail artistic director Damian Woetzel and presented "rehearsal-style," with a focus on the relationship between dance and music. The two works presented feature collaborations with Pulitzer Prize-winner Caroline Shaw, Vail's 2018 Leonard Bernstein Composer-In-Residence. The first is choreographed by Justin Peck, marking his Vail choreographic debut. The second is postmodern choreographer Pam Tanowitz's Blueprint, which premiered at the Kennedy Center last March and features former Miami City Ballet star (and Peck's fiancé), Patricia Delgado. Can't make it to the show? Watch Blueprint in the video below.


International Evenings of Dance Unite Dancers from Major Companies

Two International Evenings of Dance, held August 3 and August 4 are set to feature upwards of 30 dancers ranging from tap extraordinaire Michelle Dorrance to Memphis jooker Lil Buck to ballet stars from American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet, The Royal Ballet and more. The programs will feature debuts and collaborations yet to be revealed. Highlights of the all-star cast include ABT's Isabella Boylston and Misty Copeland, NYCB's Tiler Peck and Joseph Gordon, Boston Ballet's Misa Kuranaga, and Francesca Hayward of The Royal Ballet. Watch clips from last year's performance below.


American Contemporary Ballet Presents Two Vastly Different Premieres

August 2-12, Los Angeles-based American Contemporary Ballet will premiere a pair of new ballets by artistic director Lincoln Jones. Candide Overture celebrates the centennial of composer Leonard Bernstein and pays tribute to his jubilant, rhythmic dance music. Transfigured Night explores the internal life of a pair of lovers when one has just revealed a dramatic secret. The music is an early work of 19th and 20th century composer Arnold Schoenberg.


Ballet Hawaii's Sleeping Beauty Brings in Stars from the Mainland

August 3–5, Ballet Hawaii is bringing guest artists from across the continental U.S. to Honolulu for a collaborative production of The Sleeping Beauty in association with Kansas City Ballet. While Ballet Hawaii summer intensive students make up the bulk of the cast, KCB's Amaya Rodriguez and Liang Fu will dance as Princess Aurora and Prince Desiré. Plus, guest artists Katherine Williams of American Ballet Theatre will dance Beauty/Candite and Lesley Rausch of Pacific Northwest Ballet will perform the role of the Lilac Fairy. This production is truly a group effort; Cincinnati Ballet is also lending a hand by providing the costumes!


Festival des Arts de Saint-Sauveur Opens with BalletMet's Romeo and Juliet

National Ballet of Canada principal Guillaume Côté's summer project, the Festival des Arts de Saint-Sauveur, runs August 2-12 in Montreal. BalletMet opens the festival with artistic director Edwaard Liang's production of Romeo and Juliet August 2-3. The second week will see appearances by Côté's colleagues at NBoC, as well as performances by Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and Toronto Dance Theatre. This will be the 26th year of the festival, which Côté has curated and directed since 2015.


International Ballet Festival of Miami Youth Gala

To continue the jam-packed season of summer dance fests, the XXIII International Ballet Festival of Miami's first performance, the Youth Gala, takes place this Saturday, August 4 at the Lehman Theater at Miami Dade College North campus. This showcase of young talent from the U.S. and abroad is intended to promote arts education in the Miami area. Galas with professional dancers from around the world continue next week. In addition, the festival also hosts movie screenings, workshops, master classes and book and art exhibits, all related to dance and the arts. Preview the various performances taking place through August 19 below.

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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