Kathryn Manger and Peter Weil in Don Quixote. Alexander Iziliaev, courtesy Pennsylvania Ballet.

Tonight, Two Apprentices Take the Lead in Pennsylvania Ballet's "Don Q"

Angel Corella has been shaking things up at Pennsylvania Ballet ever since he took over as artistic director in 2014. His new production of Don Quixote, which premiered last weekend and runs through Sunday, March 13, features a slew of young corps and apprentice dancers in leading roles. Perhaps most surprisingly, Corella paired first-year apprentices Kathryn Manger and Peter Weil opposite each other as Kitri and Basilio in last Saturday night's performance. Pointe spoke with Manger, 20, and Weil, 19, before their second performance tonight at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia.

When did you find out you were dancing Kitri and Basilio, and how did you react?

Peter Weil: It was a Friday afternoon [laughs)]…

Kathryn Manger: Yeah, maybe a month ago. We didn't have much time to put it together. I was shocked. Angel's really good about giving opportunities, so I thought we would be doing a lot of corps work or maybe a demi-soloist role at most.

How did the other company members react to the casting? Was it awkward?

PW: A little. I'm sure it was surprising and confusing to a lot of people. But everyone has been really supportive—it's nice to go onstage and know they have my back.

What has the rehearsal process been like?

KM: Brutal. Kitri and Basilio have to support the whole three-act ballet. We're in and out of rehearsals all day, with a one-hour break.

PW: A lot of the partnering was a learning process for me—luckily I had good help and a good partner.

KM: And the stamina for Kitri and Basilio is hard. They say the first act is the killer act because it's just nonstop dancing. But that's part of the process—building up the physical stamina so you can get through the ballet. And then you have to worry about the technical aspects of it and actually looking pretty!

Did you work one on one with Angel Corella?

PW: All of the couples usually had an hour a day with either Angel or ballet masters Samantha Dunster and Charles Askegard. Those were great rehearsals—you get all the details you don't get during a full company run.

So it's not like you had to rehearse behind a bunch of more experienced couples.

PW: Sometimes it was like that, and understandably so. But the one-on-one rehearsals helped us get a lot done.

KM: With Peter and I being so new to this—being new to the company, being new to a full-length ballet—having our own rehearsals was really important for the process.

How are you handling the pressure?

PW: I've definitely worried about it.

KM: Me, too! I'm not going to lie. It's unheard of for an apprentice to get this opportunity. All eyes are on you. But you have to then take it to the next level and prove that you deserve to be doing it. So Peter and I were making sure we knew everything backwards, forwards, eyes closed, character, choreography—everything.

Directors often pair a young dancer with a more experienced partner. But both of you are so young. Does that give you an advantage or a disadvantage?

PW: It's nice to work with a newer, younger dancer…

KM: Because they know how you're feeling.

PW: We're on the same page the whole time, and we're friends, so we can talk to each other.

KM: We can be more honest like, “Oh, I need you to be more on your leg here," or “Okay, can you put me here?" Communication is important in a partnership.

Whereas with a principal dancer, you may be more deferential—the power dynamics would be totally different.

KM: Yes, I'd feel like I'd have to do everything perfectly or risk letting him down or making him angry. I still want to do really well for Peter, but we're more understanding of each other.

Did you lean on the older dancers for support?

KM: If something wasn't going right—for example, Peter and I were having trouble with a lift—they gave us pointers. Also, we learned a lot just by watching them—you don't always need to talk. Especially with how they interpret the characters—you can take what you like and make it your own. That's why it's great having so many inspirational dancers in this company.

How has this experience helped you grow?

PW: Angel told me that with great talent comes a lot of responsibility, and I've definitely noticed that in this ballet. Even when you're having an off day, you still have to be there and be present.

KM: And while nailing the technical things—the pirouettes, the fouettés—is important, communicating the story to the audience is really challenging, too. Principal dancers already have the experience and artistry, so I have to really thank Angel for trusting us with this opportunity. I feel like I've grown 10 times from this!

Manger and Weil in Don Quixote. Photo by Alexander Iziliaev, Courtesy Pennsylvania Ballet.

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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?

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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

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