Back in May, we shared that a brand-new ballet company, called American National Ballet, was launching in Charleston, South Carolina. Naturally, we were intrigued, but there was little information—no repertoire, and only one confirmed dancer. (That's principal Sara Murawski, who previously danced with Pennsylvania Ballet and is prominently featured in ANB's marketing.)

Now the company has listed a huge name on its website for the troupe's artistic director: Rasta Thomas. Okay, we're really listening.

Thomas is perhaps best known for directing the pyrotechnic Bad Boys of Dance, which flaunted a high-adrenaline touring show. Called Rock the Ballet, it featured flashy, crowd-pleasing choreography set to pop music. Thomas made a name for himself early on, though, winning the USA International Ballet Competition at 16. He also enjoyed a career of guesting with companies around the world, including the Mariinsky Ballet, Dance Theatre of Harlem, American Ballet Theatre and Víctor Ullate Ballet.

Octavio Martin, who danced with the National Ballet of Cuba and Sarasota Ballet, is currently listed as ANB's second company artistic director.


ANB has also announced a full roster for the 2017–18 season, including these principals, who have a breadth of experience:

Nicolai Gorodiskii, who danced with Royal New Zealand ballet this season

Denis Klimuk, who was a principal with Estonian National Ballet

Jessica Saund, longtime American Ballet Theatre corps dancer

Kara Zimmerman, who is joining from Joffrey Ballet. Prior to that she was a member of Cincinnati Ballet and Pacific Northwest Ballet.

While these details are all promising, we're left with one major question: What will they dance for the inaugural season?

At this time, no programming or performance details have been announced.

Ballet Training
Hortense Millet-Maurin (third from left) and her classmates perform August Bournonville's La Conservatoire. Svetlana Loboff, Courtesy POB.

As a little girl, Hortense Millet-Maurin fell in love with the wide spiral staircase that dominates the center of the Paris Opéra Ballet School. Today, as a focused 15-year-old POB student, she and her classmate Vincent Vivet navigate the school's spacious architecture on a daily basis. In a hallway strewn with foam rollers and tennis balls, their faces are laced with concentration as they prepare alongside their peers for afternoon ballet class. Color-coded uniforms reflect Vivet's and Millet-Maurin's third division; with only two advanced divisions remaining, they are increasingly close to realizing their professional aspirations: joining the Paris Opéra Ballet. Pointe spoke with these two young dancers to see what it's like studying inside the world's oldest ballet academy.

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Sponsored by Ballet Arizona
Tzu Chia Huang, Courtesy Ballet Arizona

These days, ballet dancers are asked to do more than they ever have—whether that's tackling versatile rep, taking on intense cross-training regimens or managing everything from their Instagram pages to their summer layoff gigs.

Without proper training, these demands can take a toll on both the mind and the body. But students can start preparing for them early—with the right summer intensive program.

The School of Ballet Arizona's summer intensive takes a well-rounded approach to training—not just focusing on technique and facility but nurturing overall dancer growth. "You cannot make a dancer just by screaming at them like they used to," says master ballet teacher Roberto Muñoz, who guests at the program every summer. "You have to take care of the person as well."

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Ballet Training
Emily Giacalone, modeled by Elizabeth Steele of The School at Steps.

If you're feeling wobbly in adagio or wish you could hold your piqué attitude a bit longer, there are ways to assess and improve your balance. Try these four exercises, recommended by Heather Southwick, Boston Ballet's director of physical therapy.

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Courtesy School of Pennsylvania Ballet

While many of us are deep in Nutcracker duties, The School of Pennsylvania Ballet director James Payne has been looking further ahead, finalizing preparations for the school's summer intensive programs. In January, he and his staff will embark on a 24-city audition tour to scour the country for the best young dancers, deciding whether or not to offer them a spot—maybe even a scholarship—in the school's rigorous 5-week intensive focused on high-caliber ballet instruction. Though he'll be evaluating aspirants, he urges that as a student, you should be equally selective in choosing programs that could galvanize your training—and possibly even your career.

We got Payne's advice on strategizing your summer intensive plan before the audition cycle kicks in:

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