Ballet Stars

The Standouts of 2017: Chyrstyn Mariah Fentroy and Da'Von Doane in "Brahms Variations" for Dance Theatre of Harlem

Doane and Fentroy brought musical sensitivity to "Brahms Variations." From left: Heiko DeWees, Courtesy DTH; Rachel Neville, Courtesy DTH.

There's nothing more satisfying than witnessing young dancers take their artistry to the next level. During Dance Theatre of Harlem's spring season at New York City Center, Chyrstyn Mariah Fentroy and Da'Von Doane—two dancers who had grown up at DTH since the company relaunched in 2013—brought joy and sophistication to Robert Garland's Brahms Variations. Costumed in sunny yellow and muted gray, the pair were perfect vessels for Johannes Brahms' Variations on a Theme by Haydn, punctuating accents and lengthening through legatos with heightened musical sensitivity.


Fentroy, who joined Boston Ballet this fall, danced with breezy assuredness, her long limbs catching an imaginary wind under pliant, articulate feet. Doane's partnering was simultaneously strong and sensitive, and his mastery of Garland's neoclassical choreography proved a satisfying blend of technical crispness and finessed phrasing. Their performance left a lasting impression, taking each to new depths.

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Boston Ballet's Kathleen Breen Combes, María Álvarez and Dawn Atkins. Christopher Duggan, Courtesy Jacob's Pillow.

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

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Ballet Stars
Alexandra MacDonald (front row, third from left) didn't win a medal at the Genée International Ballet Competition, but says she came home inspired and newly motivated by the people she met there. Photo Courtesy Genée IBC.

Ballet competitions are an exciting part of any dancer's career. Yet while scholarships, prize money, job offers and the prestige that comes with winning a medal are compelling incentives to participate in one, they're not the only benefits. In fact, many dancers who go home empty-handed still look fondly on the experience and go on to become successful professionals.

This week, the 2019 Genée International Ballet Competition kicks off in Toronto. From August 20-29, over 50 dancers, ages 15–19 and trained in the Royal Academy of Dance syllabus, will perform three solos in the hopes of winning a medal and a $10,000 cash prize. Many past medalists have gone on to illustrious careers—but so have those who didn't win anything. We spoke with three Genée alumni now dancing professionally who know what it's like not to place. Read on to find out why they deem their comp experiences a success, and how you can make the most of yours—whether you win or not.

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Ballet Stars
Skylar Brandt and Josephine Lee. Screenshot Courtesy Lee.

Master pointe shoe fitter Josephine Lee of the California-based ThePointeShop chats with American Ballet Theatre soloist Skylar Brandt to hear about how she prepares her pointe shoes. We think Brandt might win an award for how long she makes her shoes last; watch the below video for the staggering number of days (or weeks!), and to hear about all of her unique customizations and pro tips.

Courtesy Chiara Valle

Chiara Valle is just one of many dancers heading back to the studio this fall as companies ramp up for the season. But her journey back has been far more difficult than most.

Valle has been a trainee at The Washington Ballet since 2016, starting at the same time as artistic director Julie Kent. But only a few months into her first season there, she started experiencing excruciating pain high up in her femur. "It felt like someone was stabbing me 24/7," she says. Sometimes at night, the pain got so bad that her roommates would bring her dinner to the bathtub.

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