Ballet Stars

Red, White and Ballet: Celebrate July 4th With These American-Inspired Ballet Videos

New York City Ballet principal Tyler Angle in Balanchine's Stars and Stripes. Paul Kolnik, Courtesy NYCB.

You might be on layoff or have a break from your summer intensive today, but ballet is probably still on your brain. That's okay—kick back, relax and enjoy these American-themed ballet videos.


Justin Peck's "Rodeo: Four Dance Episodes"

This ballet just makes you want to jump up and dance. Justin Peck's acclaimed interpretation of Aaron Copeland's score Rodeo keeps the sense of freedom, open spaces and frontier camaraderie of Agnes de Mille's original 1942 ballet— while imbuing it with New York City Ballet's trademark speed, abstract storytelling and musicality. Russell Janzen, Sara Mearns and the male corps of New York City Ballet shine in this 2019 performance.

Agnes De Mille's "Rodeo"

Does this piece bring to mind the musical Oklahoma!? Agnes de Mille's success in creating Rodeo led to her being hired to choreograph the original Rogers and Hammerstein classic. Dancing cowboys tear up the stage in this scene from a 2009 production by Colorado Ballet.

George Balanchine's "Rubies"

"Rubies," from George Balanchine's full-length Jewels, conjures up the Big Apple's fast pace, bright lights, glamour and show biz. In this 2017 Pacific Northwest Ballet performance, principal Lindsi Dec sparkles as the "Tall Girl" soloist in the ballet's finale.

Christopher Wheeldon's "The American"

After you've had a slice of apple pie, enjoy this dreamy dance dessert: Christopher Wheeldon's The American, performed here by Sarasota Ballet. "I always feel like the pas de deux is like spun sugar: delicate but light with a sense of breath," says Wheeldon répétiteur Michele Gifford in this interview during a recent staging at Festival Ballet Providence. "It's really elegant. It also reminds me of a lazy summer day."

George Balanchine's "Stars and Stripes"

The Fourth of July isn't complete without fireworks—in this case, the balletic fireworks of Stars and Stripes, Balanchine's quintessential all-American ballet. Patriotic spirit and dance pyrotechnics join forces in this 2019 NYCB performance led by Megan Fairchild and Tyler Angle.

Ballet Stars

What do Diana Vishneva, Olga Smirnova, Kristina Shapran and Maria Khoreva all have in common? These women, among the most impressive talents to graduate from the Vaganova Ballet Academy in recent years, all studied under legendary professor Lyudmila Kovaleva. Kovaleva, a former dancer with the Kirov Ballet (now the Mariinsky), is beloved by her students and admired throughout the ballet world for her ability to pull individuality and artistry out of the dancers she trains. Like any great teacher, Kovaleva is remarkably generous with her wealth of knowledge; it seems perfect, then, that she appears as the Fairy of Generosity in this clip from a 1964 film of the Kirov's The Sleeping Beauty.

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Sponsored by BLOCH
Courtesy BLOCH

Today's ballet dancer needs a lot from a pointe shoe. "What I did 20 years ago is not what these dancers are doing now," says New York City Ballet shoe manager Linnette Roe. "They are expected to go harder, longer days. They are expected to go from sneakers, to pointe shoes, to character shoes, to barefoot and back to pointe shoes all in a day."

The team at BLOCH developed their line of Stretch Pointe shoes to address dancer's most common complaints about the fit and performance of their pointe shoes. "It's a scientific take on the pointe shoe," says Roe. Dancers are taking notice and Stretch Pointe shoes are now worn by stars like American Ballet Theatre principal Isabella Boylston, who stars in BLOCH's latest campaign for the shoes.

We dug into the details of Stretch Pointe's most game-changing features:

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Ballet Careers
Ali Cameron, Courtesy Queensland Ballet

An artistic director's position was far from Li Cunxin's mind when the Brisbane-based Queensland Ballet came calling in 2012. Since his retirement from the stage in 1999, the Chinese-Australian dancer had embarked on a highly successful career at the helm of a stockbroking firm. His wife, former dancer and current Queensland ballet mistress Mary McKendry Li, changed his mind, Li remembers. "She said, 'Wouldn't it be nice to give something back to the art form that we both have benefited so much from?' "

Seven years later, Li's contribution has been dramatic. Queensland Ballet, once a struggling choreographer-led company, has become one of Australia's most exciting repertoire ensembles, with Liam Scarlett on board as artistic associate. The budget has more than quadrupled, to over $20 million USD, and Li has launched not one but three major construction projects, with world-class headquarters, a theater and a new academy all in progress.

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News
Gene Schiavone, Courtesy Boston Ballet

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

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