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Stella Abrera Heads to Philippines to Help Victims of Super Typhoon Haiyan

American Ballet Theatre's Stella Abrera. Photo by Gene Schiavone, Courtesy ABT.

When Super Typhoon Haiyan struck the Phillippines last November, the results were catastrophic: The storm left 6,300 dead and four million people displaced. And while the typhoon is no longer headlining the evening news here, it's still an everyday reality in Guiuan, the area hit hardest by the typhoon, where rebuilding efforts remain slow. As a result, child labor is on the rise as increasing numbers of children leave school to help support their families. Those not in the workforce face overcrowded classrooms in makeshift buildings and a lack of basic supplies.


American Ballet Theatre soloist Stella Abrera, a first-generation Filipino American, is doing her part to help. She teamed up with disaster relief organization Operation USA to form Steps Forward for the Philippines, a charitable fund dedicated to providing educational supplies to the school children of Guiuan. Her goal is to raise $30,000 to ensure schools receive basic necessities such as desks, chairs, chalkboards, computers and A/V equipment.

Abrera heads to Manila this month to perform the title role of Giselle with Ballet Philippines alongside ABT principal James Whiteside. But her trip also serves a charitable purpose. “I knew my upcoming visit to the country needed to somehow contribute to the relief effort," she says in a statement. After the performance on September 19, she'll travel to Guiuan to survey Operation USA's educational initiatives, meet with school children and present them with school supplies. For more information, or to donate, click here.

The Conversation
Ballet Stars
Angela Sterling, Courtesy PNB

Your teacher at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, Marcia Dale Weary, recently passed away. What impact did she have on you?

I feel deeply indebted to her. She shaped my life's course, and I know that were it not for her, I would not be living out my dream today. She led by example through her remarkable commitment to her work, as well as her genuine kindness and generosity.

You were a trainee with San Francisco Ballet. What was that experience like?

It was an exposure to different schools of thought. We were mostly in the full-lengths, and watching run-throughs of Sleeping Beauty and Don Quixote was revolutionary for me. But I was young and far away from home. That transition was hard. My body started changing. It wanted to be fleshy. Biology is cruel in that way. I desperately wanted to fit in, but it wasn't meant to be.

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The Royal Ballet's Vadim Muntagirov and Marianela Nuñez in La Bayadère. Photo by Bill Cooper, Courtesy ROH.

Do you ever wish you could teleport to London and casually stroll into The Royal Opera House to see some of the world's best-loved ballets? Well, we have a solution for you: The Royal Ballet's 2018-19 cinema season.

Whether live or recorded, the seven ballet programs listed below, streaming now through next October, will deliver all of the magic that The Royal Ballet has to offer straight to your local movie theater. Can you smell the popcorn already?

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Site Network
Left: Misa Kuranaga in The Veritginous Thrill of Exactitude. Gene Schiavone, Courtesy Boston Ballet. Right: Sasha Mukhamedov in Apollo. Altin Kaftira, Courtesy Dutch National Ballet.

San Francisco Ballet just announced some major news: longtime Boston Ballet star Misa Kuranaga will be joining the company as a principal dancer for the 2019-20 season, while Dutch National Ballet principal Sasha Mukhamedov has been hired as a soloist. They join a slew of newly promoted SFB principals and soloists, announced earlier this year.

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Ballet Stars
Xiao Nan Yu in company class. Aaron Vincent, Courtesy National Ballet of Canada.

On June 22, National Ballet of Canada principal Xiao Nan Yu will retire from the stage after 22 years with the company. Originally from Dalian, China, Yu studied at the Shen Yang School of Dance and the Beijing Dance Academy before coming to Canada's National Ballet School at age 17. She joined the National Ballet of Canada less than two years later, and was promoted to principal in 2001.

"She is a supreme dance actress with an innate ability to bring the audience into her world," says NBoC artistic director Karen Kain. "Nan has always brought such a calm confidence into the studio and has been a role model for so many dancers I will miss her generosity both inside the studio and out." We spoke with Yu as she prepared for her final week of performances. She opened up about her initial culture shock upon moving to Toronto, her thoughts on artistry and why she chose Hanna Glawari in The Merry Widow as her final role.

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