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Onstage This Week: Justin Peck World Premiere at Houston Ballet, Aspen Santa Fe Ballet in NYC, and More!

Justin Peck rehearsing his new ballet, Reflections, with Houston Ballet. Lawrence Knox, Courtesy Houston Ballet.

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


Justin Peck Creates a World Premiere for Houston Ballet

March 21-24, Houston Ballet presents a program aptly titled Premieres, featuring the world premiere of Justin Peck's Reflections. With an original score by frequent collaborator Sufjan Stevens, this marks Peck's first time creating on the company; catch a glimpse of his process in the above video. The program also includes two company premieres: Jiří Kylián's Dream Time, set to a score by Japanese composer Toru Takamitsu, and Aszure Barton's Come In, a ballet for 13 male dancers.

Atlanta Ballet Showcases Ballet's Playful Side 

Atlanta Ballet's Look/Don't Touch program, running March 22-24, features three playful works: Alexander Ekman's Cacti, Mark Morris' Sandpaper Ballet and the world premiere of AON <All or Nothing> by former Boston Ballet principal Yury Yanowsky. Hear more from Yanowsky about his work above.

Aspen Santa Fe Ballet Brings Three New York Premieres to the Joyce Theater

Aspen Santa Fe Ballet brings three New York premieres, all featuring live music by concert pianist Joyce Yang, to the Joyce Theater March 20-24. The program features Jorma Elo's Half/Cut/Split set to Schumann's Carnaval, Fernando Melo's Dream Play to Erik Satie, and Nicolo Fonte's Where We Left Off to Philip Glass.

Boston Ballet Presents George Balanchine's "Coppélia" 

Boston audiences can catch George Balanchine's Coppélia starting this week. Boston Ballet presents the clever, comedic classic March 21-31; catch a glimpse in the above trailer.

Sacramento Ballet Nurtures Company Choreographers

March 21-April 7, Sacramento Ballet continues its annual Beer and Ballet program, wherein company dancers have the chance to create new work on their peers in an informal setting. This year, Sacramento Ballet brings in Val Caniparoli as a choreographic advisor and mentor.

Ballet Memphis Rethinks "Giselle"

Leading up to Ballet Memphis' run of Giselle next month, on March 23, choreographers Julie Marie Niekrasz and Pablo Sanchez dive into the ballet with Through the Veil: Giselle Redux. In this one night only performance, Niekrasz and Sanchez reimagine the classic through a modern lens, including new movement and music and discussion.

San Francisco Ballet's Trainee Program Makes Rare East Coast Appearance

On March 23, Jenkintown, PA-based Metropolitan Ballet Company presents an evening of variations and collaborations in Philadelphia. The program, including works by Jessica Lang, Sarah Mettin and Ashley Walton, will feature special guest artists from San Francisco Ballet School's Trainee Program.

Summer Intensive Survival
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There's a sweet spot toward the end of August—after summer intensives have wrapped up and before it's time to head back to school or work—where the days are long, lazy and begging to be spent neck-deep in a pile of good books. Whether you're looking for inspiration for the upcoming season or trying to brush up on your dance history, you can never go wrong with an excellent book on ballet. We've gathered eight titles (all available at common booksellers like Amazon and Barnes and Noble) guaranteed to give you a deeper understanding of the art form, to add to your end-of-summer reading list.

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James Yoichi Moore and Noelani Pantastico warm up onstage. Angela Sterling, Courtesy SDC.

On a sunny July weekend, hundreds of Seattle-area dance fans converged on tiny Vashon Island, a bucolic enclave in Puget Sound about 20 miles from the city. They made the ferry trek to attend the debut performance of the fledgling Seattle Dance Collective.

SDC is not a run-of-the-mill contemporary dance company; it's the brainchild of two of Pacific Northwest Ballet's most respected principal dancers: James Yoichi Moore and Noelani Pantastico. The duo wanted to create a nimble organization to feature dancers and choreographers they felt needed more exposure in the Pacific Northwest.

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Roman Mejia in Robbins' Dances at a Gathering. Erin Baiano, Courtesy NYCB.

The Princess Grace Foundation has just announced its 2019 class, and we're thrilled that two ballet dancers—New York City Ballet's Roman Mejia and BalletX's Stanley Glover—are included among the list of über-talented actors, filmmakers, playwrights, dancers and choreographers.

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The Royal Ballet's Alexander Campbell and Yasmine Naghdi in Ashton's The Two Pigeons. Tristram Kenton, Courtesy ROH.

While most ballet casts are 100 percent human, it's not unheard of for live animals to appear onstage, providing everything from stage dressing to supporting roles. Michael Messerer's production of Don Quixote features a horse and a donkey; American Ballet Theatre's Giselle calls for two Russian wolfhounds; and Sir Frederick Ashton's La Fille Mal Gardee requires a white Shetland pony. Another Ashton masterpiece, The Two Pigeons, is well known for its animal actors. But though ballet is a highly disciplined, carefully choreographed art form, some performers are naturally more prone to flights of fancy—because they're birds.

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