Emma Love Suddarth and her husband, PNB soloist Price Suddarth. relax along the Seine river. Photo by Lindsay Thomas.

Pirouetting Through Paris: PNB's Emma Love Suddarth Chronicles the Company's Summer Tour to the French Capital

It's Monday, June 25. Armed with neck pillows, compression socks and loads of coffee, we are ready for our flight to Paris! Les Étés de la Danse, a French festival held at the beautiful La Seine Musicale theater, invited Pacific Northwest Ballet for its 2018 season. Half of the company will arrive the first week to participate in its Hommage à Jerome Robbins celebration with a handful of other companies. The rest will join the second week for a PNB-only residency.


Tuesday, June 26

Madison Rayn Abeo, Nancy Casciano, Elle Macy and Dylan Wald enjoy a Parisian café. Photo by Lindsay Thomas.

When my husband (PNB soloist) Price Suddarth and I arrived at the hotel, our room was a couple hours from ready. Our first instinct was coffee. After about 30 minutes of wandering, we selected a café—one of many with red awnings. Luckily, espresso was one word on the French menu that I knew! Two double espressos in, we knew Paris was going to treat us well.

Wednesday, June 27

Company class onstage at La Seine Musicale. Photo by Lindsay Thomas.

The first class on tour is always the hardest, especially after extensive travel. A number of New York City Ballet, Miami City Ballet and Joffrey Ballet dancers were also in Paris for the Robbins celebration, and the dancer connections were endless. Wednesday's teacher, NYCB ballet master Jonathan Stafford, grew up at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet with PNB principal Noelani Pantastico. He also danced in NYCB with PNB principal Sarah Ricard Orza and taught my husband. Small world!

We had the rest of the day off, so after class we all headed off in various directions for shopping, cafés, museums, walks along the Seine. You have to pack it in when you only have one day to sightsee! Corps member Cecelia Iliesiu, Price and I visited Notre Dame, Sainte-Chapelle and the entrance of the Louvre; purchased macarons from Pierre Hermé; and finished off with a serious crêpe hunt.

Thursday, June 28

Love Suddarth takes class with members of Miami City Ballet and The Joffrey Ballet during the festival's multi-company Robbins celebration. Photo by Lindsay Thomas.

Our stage manager, Sandy Barrack, had us turn in shoes for the tour back in April—two and a half months in advance. However, when I opened our shoe cabinet backstage and saw all my perfectly broken-in pairs of flesh, pink and matte pointe shoes, it felt like Christmas. That's not all she shipped ahead. Rosin boxes, pointe shoe scrapers, first aid supplies, candies for that emergency sugar rush and even four varieties of Altoids made the trip!

It's already opening night. For the Robbins celebration, PNB is dancing Opus 19/The Dreamer, sharing a program with MCB and Perm Opera Ballet Theatre. The number of languages backstage alone is mind-blowing! I could hear dancers from Perm casually chatting in Russian, two MCB dancers discussing a lift in Spanish, the stage crew watching the football match in French and my own co-workers talking about the afternoon's rehearsal in English. The language of dance brought us all together as a much larger, global team—a rare and special happening to be a part of.

Saturday, June 30

PNB artistic director Peter Boal teaching class onstage. Photo by Lindsay Thomas.

So many funny things happened backstage this week. For instance, the PNB men managed to burn up three hair dryers from improper voltage conversion. And there was more than one incident of a stuck elevator, causing many to opt for the stairs. Climbing a few flights outweighed the risk of getting stuck on level 2 and missing your entrance!

The Robbins festival performances went off beautifully. I loved watching the Perm dancers, who have such different dance backgrounds than ours in the U.S., put their own touch on Robbins.

Sunday, July 1

Company members enjoy a boat cruise along the Seine on their day off. Photo by Lindsay Thomas.

The rest of the company arrived yesterday, just as we were finishing up the Robbins performances. In all, there are 44 dancers, two physical therapists, marketing and executive staff members, our incomparable crew and wardrobe team, a music team (conductor, pianists and violin soloist), three ballet masters and one artistic director. Today, dancers and staff took a beautiful boat cruise along the Seine with patrons of both PNB and La Seine Musicale. PNB takes Paris!

Monday, July 2

Love Suddarth gets physical therapy on a troublesome ankle. Photo by Lindsay Thomas.

Back to work. We have one day to make sure eight ballets, most with multiple casts, are ready to go. Some works, like Crystal Pite's Emergence, transition easily to La Seine Musicale's stage. Others, like Alejandro Cerrudo's Little mortal jump, require extra thought. One dancer leaps into the orchestra pit and has very little time to get back onstage. The combination of socks and slippery cement floors presented a dilemma during rehearsal. The solution: pre-setting sneakers in the pit for an Olympic-style sprint to the stage.

I made a visit to our physical therapist, Boyd Bender. An ankle sprain from earlier in the season requires regular maintenance. Also, for whatever reason, I couldn't tilt my head right. He figured it out, as he always does.

Tuesday, July 3

Dancers prepare before the performance. PNB brought eight signature works, including ballets by Twyla Tharp, Benjamin Millepied and William Forsythe. Photo by Lindsay Thomas.

It's PNB's opening night, and you wouldn't have known anyone was tired. The program—Christopher Wheeldon's Tide Harmonic, Ulysses Dove's Red Angels, Little mortal jump and Emergence—showcased the best of PNB. We're accustomed to a slightly rowdier Seattle audience, but when the show finished, the Parisians, clapping enthusiastically in unison, demanded another curtain call. A company-wide sense of pride was felt by all.

Wednesday, July 4

Rehearsing Jessica Lang's Her Door to the Sky. Photo by Lindsay Thomas.

We realized too late that we should have learned more than "hello," "good-bye," "thank you" and numbers up to 10 in French. At one point today, we had to explain to a pharmacist via hand gestures that we needed nasal spray. (Apparently, Paris and Seattle have similar effects on allergy sufferers.) It led to a few laughs from both sides of the counter.

Saturday, July 7

Love Suddarth at an early morning Eiffel Tower photo shoot. Photo by Lindsay Thomas.

The last day on tour feels like it will never come, and then it's over before you know it. We'll all miss the amazing hotel breakfasts—croissants, muesli, any-way-you-want-them eggs, quiche, roasted tomatoes, pancakes, fresh vegetables, smoked salmon, unlimited trips to the espresso machine. At the same time, everyone is ready for a little rest and relaxation. We're officially on summer break, so many of us are taking the opportunity to travel around Europe.

From the outside, touring can seem insurmountable—tech rehearsal, dress rehearsal and performance all in the same day; unfamiliar stages with unfamiliar floors; not being able to identify what you're ordering on a dinner menu. But none of that can detract from the opportunity to share all that PNB has to offer across the pond, and the chance to add our voice to the global conversation of dance.

Latest Posts


Eighteen-year-old Sarah Patterson (foreground), with her classmates at New Ballet School. She's decided to stay home this summer to take advantage of outdoor, in-person classes. Courtesy New Ballet School.

Why Planning Summer Study This Year Is More Complicated Than Ever

When it comes to navigating summer intensives, 2021 may be more complicated for ballet students than last year. On the heels of the COVID-19 pandemic's spring spike in 2020, summer programs went all-virtual or had very limited capacity. This year is more of a mixed bag, with regulations and restrictions varying widely across state and county lines and changing week by week.

Between vaccines and variants, can students aim for a full calendar of intensive training at local and national summer programs?

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Chris Hardy, Courtesy LINES

Check Out These 2021 Summer Intensives Especially for Adults

After a year of shuttered studios, virtual-only classes, and waving to ballet buddies over Zoom, summer intensives are back. For adult students, packing up for a few days of intensive training might seem like a pipe dream, as many of us spent the last year trying to fit in ballet classes while juggling work and, for those of us with kids, remote learning. With the country opening up again, let's start planning (safely!) for workshops that allow us to jump into technique, conditioning and, of course, high-elbowing some new friends.

For in-person intensives, please check the studio's website for detailed health and safety guidelines, including policies on masks, cleaning/hygiene, social distancing, and the policy on having to cancel in-person programs due to COVID-19 restrictions.

CALIFORNIA

Alonzo King LINES Ballet Adult Dance Intensive (virtual only, via Zoom)

May 28–31, San Francisco

Immerse yourself in the celebrated home of Alonzo King, the artistic visionary who created LINES 39 years ago. Now in its second year as a virtual offering, this four-day workshop includes ballet, yoga, Pilates, choreography and contemporary. Students also have the option to drop in to class if they can't commit to all four days.

KENTUCKY

Lexington Ballet Adult Ballet Intensive

July 12–16, Lexington

Why should thoroughbreds have all the fun of training in the horse capital of the world? Reach new heights in your training at Lexington Ballet's Adult Ballet Intensive. Join school directors Luis and Nancy Dominguez and principal instructor Ayoko Lloyd for a five-day workshop that includes conditioning, Pilates, technique and repertoire. All classes are held in the evenings, and the program welcomes beginning through advanced students.

A group of eight smiling adult ballet students\u2014seven women and one man in the middle\u2014pose in a line and stand on their right leg in tendu crois\u00e9 devant.

A group of dancers pose at a past Lexington Ballet Adult Dance Intensive.

Ayoko Lloyd, Courtesy Lexington Ballet

Louisville Ballet Adult Summer Intensive

May 31–June 4, Louisville

Polish off a glass of sweet tea (or two), and then work up a sweet sweat at Louisville Ballet's Adult Summer Intensive. Geared towards beginning through advanced levels, students ages 18+ can take part in half- or full days of training. Classes offered include technique, pointe and jump strengthening, modern, Pilates and yoga. Students will also perform in a livestreamed performance on the final day.

MASSACHUSETTS

Brookline Ballet School Adult Summer Ballet Intensive

June 23–27, Brookline

The Red Sox and New England Patriots may get a bulk of the glory in Beantown, but the city is also a mecca for ballet. At Brookline Ballet School's Adult Summer Ballet Intensive, students (beginner or intermediate level) will spend three weeknights and two weekend mornings in technique and repertoire classes, wrapping up with an informal performance on Sunday afternoon.

NEW YORK

Kat Wildish Presents (virtual, via Zoom)

June 14–25 and July 12–23

Join master ballet teacher Kat Wildish in a virtual intensive that aims to take your training to the next level. Each day, in one-hour classes, Kat will lead students of all levels from basic to advanced in various ballet exercises. The group will be limited to 20 dancers, so each person will get personal attention.

A group of older adult ballet students in leotards, tights or leggings, stand in two lines with their left foot in B+ position and holding hands, as if rehearsing a ballet.

Kat Wildish (far left) working with adult students at Peridance Capezio Center

Matthew Venanzi, Courtesy Kat Wildish

OHIO

artÉmotion Adult Ballet Summer Workshop

June 14–19, Cleveland

Head to the Buckeye State for a week of training under the tutelage of Ballet West first soloist Allison DeBona and principal Rex Tilton. In this Adult Ballet Summer Workshop, beginner and intermediate/advanced students will fine-tune their skills in two classes every morning: a 90-minute technique class followed by a one-hour class in one of the following disciplines: pointe/pre-pointe, acting, men's and women's variations, conditioning.

PENNSYLVANIA

Amy Novinski

May 24–28 and June 28–July 2, Philadelphia

Those interested in the Vaganova technique may want to check out Amy Novinski's Adult Workshops. For the five-day May workshop, newbie dancers can look forward to classes devoted to ballet, jazz and yoga. For those more advanced, the June workshop offers more rigorous technique, contemporary ballet, pre-pointe/beginner pointe and jazz.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Ballet Academy of Charleston Adult Summer Intensive

July 26–30 and August 2–6, Charleston

Embrace the low-country charm in historic Charleston, where a weeklong Adult Summer Intensive at the Ballet Academy of Charleston invites beginning through advanced students to take classes in technique, stretching/Pilates/yoga, pre-pointe or pointe (for advanced students), variations, jazz, modern, contemporary and choreography. You may choose the half-day or full-day program.

TEXAS

Houston Ballet Adult Intensive

June 1–5, Houston

For intermediate/advanced students with at least three years of ballet training, Houston Ballet's Adult Intensive might be the perfect place to hone your skills. The school has two-, three- or five-day options, and includes ballet technique, variations, yoga and Zumba.

UTAH

May 31–June 5, Salt Lake City

Ballet West welcomes students of all levels to artÉmotion's one-week Adult Ballet Summer Intensive. Classes include ballet, contemporary, pointe, jazz, modern, acting, and men and women's variations. Available in full-day or half-day options, those dancing only in the morning will take two 90-minute technique classes. The full-day experience offers the opportunity to be choreographed on for an in-studio performance on Saturday, June 5. All students will also have a professional dance photo shoot with Logan Sorenson.

A group of four men in dance practicewear face the right corner of the room and raise their arm as if beckoning someone. Three of the men stand in parallel, which the man in the middle sits in a wheelchair.

A men's class at artÉmotion Adult Summer Ballet Intensive

Logan Sorenson, Courtesy artÉmotion

INTERNATIONAL

The August Ballet Retreat in Leeds

August 28–30, Leeds, UK

The three-day August Ballet Retreat in Leeds offers classes for students of all abilities. The mornings are devoted to technique, and in the afternoon, students will focus on repertoire. In the past, The Ballet Retreat has taught solos from Sleeping Beauty, Romeo and Juliet and Giselle. One detail is still tentative: If the retreat is unable to take place in person due to the pandemic, it will be offered virtually over Zoom.

Morlaix International Adult Ballet Camp

July 2–10, Morlaix, France

The Morlaix International Adult Ballet Camp is in the heart of France's Brittany region. In this full-day intensive, intermediate through advanced-level students will be led by an international faculty. Dancers can look forward to morning ballet classes and rehearsals in the afternoon. The week of training wraps up with a performance of Bournonville's Napoli at a nearby theater. Please contact the school for information about room and board.

Still shot by cinematographer Benjamin Tarquin, Courtesy Post:ballet

10 Online Ballet Performances to Catch in April

Spring is in full bloom with another round of exciting digital dance offerings. This month, companies across the country are releasing world premieres, season finales, artistic collaborations and more. We've rounded up some highlights below.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks