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Stella Abrera to Retire from American Ballet Theatre in June

Stella Abrera in Le Corsaire. Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy ABT.

American Ballet Theatre announced today that, after 24 years, beloved principal dancer Stella Abrera will retire from the stage this coming summer. Her farewell performance will be June 13, 2020, at the Metropolitan Opera House, dancing the title role in Giselle.


Giselle holds special significance for her. In 2015, Abrera, then a 37-year-old soloist, made a triumphant debut in the title role, stepping in for an injured dancer at the last minute. (She herself had been slated to dance Giselle seven years earlier, but a debilitating injury sidelined her. It took years for her to fully recover.) Shortly after her performance, and after 14 years as a soloist, Abrera was made a principal dancer. "At my age and with the amount of time I had been out I didn't think it was going to happen," she told Pointe in 2016. "I thought, My career is going to be over soon, I'd better just go for broke whenever I go out onstage."

Since then she's more than made up for lost time in debuts including Aurora, Juliet, Cinderella, Terpsichore in Balanchine's Apollo and Princess Tea Flower in Alexei Ratmansky's Whipped Cream. The Filipino-American dancer has also spent plenty of time giving back: She founded Steps Forward for the Phillippines in 2014 to benefit victims of Hurricane Haiyan, and in 2018 directed a benefit gala in Manila to raise money for the Stella Abrera Dance and Music Hall at CENTEX (Center of Excellence in Public Elementary Education). She is also the director of Pro Studio/Stella Abrera®, a new training and coaching initiative for professional dancers at Kaatsbaan Cultural Park.

There's no news yet of what Abrera's next step will be. But in addition to her farewell performance on June 13, audiences can catch her this Tuesday at New York Koch Theater in Alexei Ratmansky's The Seasons, as well as in performances of Giselle on tour with ABT in Washington, DC (February 15) and Durham, North Carolina (March 28).

Francisco Estevez, Courtesy Colorado Ballet Academy

When you're looking for a ballet program to take you to the next level, there are a lot of factors to consider. While it's tempting to look for the biggest name that will accept you, the savvy dancer knows that successful training has more to do with the attention and opportunities you'll get.

We put together a few of the most important things for dancers to look for in a summer or year-round training program, with the help of the experts at Colorado Ballet Academy:

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Pennsylvania Ballet demi-soloist Thays Golz as the Sugar Plum Fairy during a stage rehearsal for George Balanchine's Nutcracker. All photography by Arian Molina Soca.

For many professional ballet dancers, Nutcracker means weeks of performances. That usually translates to multiple casts—and important breakout opportunities for those in the junior ranks. On the afternoon of December 13, Pennsylvania Ballet demi-soloist Thays Golz made her debut as the Sugar Plum Fairy along with her Cavalier, corps member Austin Eylar. For the Brazilian-born dancer, who joined PAB in 2018 after two seasons at Houston Ballet, Sugar Plum marks one of her first principal roles.

"I'm really excited," says Golz. PAB artistic director Angel Corella appointed 12 casts of Sugar Plum Fairies over the run's 29 performances. "When I first found out, I was like, 'Pinch me!' I still can't believe it."

We caught up with Golz just before her debut to see how she prepared for her big break.

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Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy US Prix de Ballet

The US Prix de Ballet is taking an unconventional approach to the ballet competition—by putting the competitors' health first. After a successful first year in 2018, the Prix is returning to San Diego, CA this February with an even more comprehensive lineup of wellness workshops and master classes, in addition, of course, to the high-level competition.

Though the talent is top-notch, the environment is friendly, says HARID Conservatory faculty member Victoria Schneider, who serves on US Prix de Ballet's elite panel of judges. "The wellbeing of the dancer is the main focus," says Schneider, who awarded three scholarships to HARID at last year's competition.

US Prix de Ballet was born after its founders traveled to the Japan Grand Prix International Ballet Competition in 2016. "The company ran every aspect of the competition with professionalism, dignity, honor and precision," says founder Neisha Hernandez. "We knew we wanted this level of experience for America."

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