Profiles
Jayme Thornton

This is Pointe's Winter 2020 cover story. You can subscribe to the magazine here, or click here to purchase this issue.

"They're breaking all my theories about not pushing dancers too soon," Kevin McKenzie, the usually cautious artistic director of American Ballet Theatre, said recently in his office near Union Square. He was referring to recently promoted soloists Catherine Hurlin and Aran Bell, 24 and 21, respectively. And he's not kidding. Hurlin and Bell are on the fast track, with role after role coming their way.

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News
Frances Chung as the title role in Christopher Wheeldon's Cinderella. Erik Tomasson, Courtesy SFB.

Six-time Tony Award-winning lighting designer Natasha Katz has lit such Broadway musical hits as Frozen, Hello Dolly! and A Chorus Line. She is also one of choreographer Christopher Wheeldon's biggest collaborators, designing the lighting for works such as Broadway's An American in Paris, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Cinderella, a 2012 co-production of San Francisco Ballet and Dutch National Ballet. Shortly after SFB opened their 2020 season with Cinderella last month, Pointe caught up with Katz to talk about her career, her collaborative relationship with Wheeldon, and the lighting profiles of co-productions.

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Viral Videos

Happy Valentine's Day! Below, Josephine Lee plays a version of the Newlywed Game with Alonzo King LINES Ballet dancers and couple Michael Montgomery and Shuaib Elhassan.

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Profiles
Irina Kolesnikova with Kimin Kim in Swan Lake. Courtesy Konstantin Tachkin.

This weekend, Irina Kolesnikova will appear on a U.S. stage for the first time, dancing alongside Bolshoi Ballet star Denis Rodkin. The Russian ballerina is a member of St. Petersburg Ballet Theatre, a touring company helmed by Konstantin Tachkin that will appear at the Brooklyn Academy of Music February 15-16. Before joining SPBT in 1998, Kolesnikova, a native of St. Petersburg, graduated from the city's esteemed Vaganova Ballet Academy. Koleniskova spent just two years in the company's lower ranks before being promoted to principal.

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Profiles
Dores André. Erik Tomasson, Courtesy San Francisco Ballet.

At the pool: Dores André has been swimming longer than she's been dancing. Even today, it's the San Francisco Ballet principal's preferred workout. "I go if I'm not too busy during the season and I feel like I need to get my stamina up," she says. "It's a routine and a meditation. Just being in the water helps me." Some days she wakes up early for a 6:30 am gentle swim before company class.

Knowing when to push: She's careful not to exert too much energy before a long day of work, and she adopts an easy pace, given her naturally muscular physique. "I try not to swim too fast because I don't want my shoulders to become concave," she says, noting the muscular, hunched posture some swimmers develop. In the off-season, though, she ramps up the intensity. André swims 45 minutes to an hour five times a week with her sister, who's a competitive open-water swimmer.

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Profiles

Former American Ballet Theatre principals Cynthia Gregory and Fernando Bujones—known for their inimitable stage presence and penchant for flair—dazzle in this performance of the Black Swan pas de deux. They draw the audience into their characters' worlds, even in a gala performance

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Profiles
Quinn Wharton

When at home in Melbourne, Australian Ballet principal Robyn Hendricks carries a huge bag around the theater. "It has my whole wardrobe in it, and photos and parts of costumes," she says. But while on tour, the South African–born dancer has perfected a pared-down version that fits into a Nike tote she picked up while performing in China. "It's great for when we go overseas because it just crumples up and doesn't take up too much room," she says. Hendricks likes to pick up mementos everywhere she goes; her first-aid kit is housed in a pink panda pouch that she got in Japan.

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Profiles
Morgan in rehearsal for Firebird. "When something is taken away from you, you appreciate it 10 times more once you have it back, she says. Lilly Echeverria.

A couple years ago, if you had told Kathryn Morgan that she'd be a soloist at Miami City Ballet, learning roles like the Firebird, Mercedes in Don Quixote and the Striptease Girl in Slaughter on Tenth Avenue, she would have said you were crazy. But last April, seven years after she was diagnosed with hypothyroidism and left her career at New York City Ballet behind, Morgan signed a professional company contract once again.

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Profiles
Karina González in Ben Stevenson's Coppélia. Amitava Sarkar, Courtesy Houston Ballet.

Are you more of a Giselle or a Juliet?

I've always said that my favorite role is Juliet, because of her vulnerability and maturity throughout the ballet. But now that I've performed Giselle, I find her so incredibly enjoyable, from being a village girl who falls in love for the first time to the most tender, almost weightless dancing in Act II.

Are you more at home in the studio or onstage?

I love the time in the studio. The process of starting from zero to getting better each day is so rewarding. My favorite phrase in rehearsals is "Let's do it again, so I can sleep in peace tonight." I need to feel so comfortable in the studio so that when I am onstage there are no bad surprises.

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Profiles
David Kornfield, Courtesy National Ballet of Canada

I first saw Maria Seletskaya when she was dancing as a leading soloist in Europe. Years later, she sent me a video of herself with the Stuttgart Ballet—not as a dancer, but as a guest orchestra conductor! I found her work and this particular transition very exciting and so I brought it to the attention of David Briskin, musical director of the National Ballet of Canada (where I dance), to see what he would think.

Being a ballerina is certainly challenging on its own. But as Seletskaya negotiated a career transition that felt right for her, she opted to pursue another, equally demanding passion: music.

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Profiles
Beckanne Sisk in the studio. Quinn Wharton.

Ballet West principal dancer Beckanne Sisk may not subscribe to a specific style, but there are a few key elements to her off-duty look no matter what the season. "Comfort is number one for me," she says. "I also like to buy things that are a little higher quality, because they last longer." Other than that, she says, it's really anything goes. "I like to change up my style all the time."

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Profiles
Lara Paraschiv. Rachel Neville, Courtesy Paraschiv.

Most professional ballet dancers' stories start the same way. They begin training at a local studio between the ages of 3 and 10, move to a pre-professional school and eventually enter a company. Lara Paraschiv did not follow this script. She began her serious ballet training at age 16, and went from beginner to professional in just five years. Having overcome naysayers along the way, she is now in her first season at Russia's Astrakhan State Ballet, and plans to keep on climbing.

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