Ballet Stars

The Standouts of 2017: Kirsten McNally in Crystal Pite's "Flight Pattern" at The Royal Ballet

McNally and Marcelino Sambé in Crystal Pite's harrowing "Flight Pattern." Photo by Tristram Kenton, Courtesy ROH.

Kristen McNally has long been one of the most versatile dramatic talents at The Royal Ballet. Since joining the company in 2002, the Liverpool-born dancer has carved a niche for herself by excelling at both character and contemporary roles, from Carabosse and the Queen in The Sleeping Beauty to work by Javier de Frutos or Hofesh Shechter.

Photo by Tristram Kenton, Courtesy ROH.


Last March, Canadian choreographer Crystal Pite offered McNally, who had been a soloist since 2009, a role that made the most of her talents. In Flight Pattern, a piece inspired by Europe's refugee crisis, she led the group of migrants that The Royal's dancers embodied with heartfelt maturity. In one scene, as the others loaded her with clothes symbolizing the ones who were lost, McNally painted a painfully still image of loss, liked a mother faced with tragedy.

Her performance didn't go unnoticed, and at the end of the season, McNally was aptly promoted to the rank of principal character artist. Her gifts also include choreography—let's hope her voice is heard soon on The Royal's main stage.

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Gene Schiavone, Courtesy Boston Ballet

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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.

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Kevin Lloyd Photography, Courtesy Ballet Jörgen

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Original photos: Getty Images

We've been dying to hear more about "On Pointe," a docuseries following students at the School of American Ballet, since we first got wind of the project this spring. Now—finally!—we know where this can't-miss show is going to live: It was just announced that Disney+, the new streaming service set to launch November 12, has ordered the series.

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