Can any style of dance be used to portray a narrative? I started to think about whether certain types of movement tell stories better than others after seeing  Edward Clug's Radio And Juliet at NYU's Skirball Center this weekend. I'd been super excited for it. The hour-long work is a contemporary ballet version of Romeo and Juliet set to the music of Radiohead. Sounds awesome, right?

 

As a huge Radiohead fan, I loved watching their music translated into the body. The Forsythe-like choreoraphy was eye-popping. It was the type of movement that makes me want to jump out of my seat to learn it on the spot so that I can feel it on my own body.

 

But the steps seemed to be completely at odds with the story-telling. Fractured, slick and almost robotic, the choreography would have been awesome if Clug had simply let it be abstract. Yet he tried to use an emotionally-detached movement quality to tell Romeo and Juliet, one of the most emotional stories even written. It was so unclear what the steps were intimating that when the lights came up for the curtain call, it took the audience a few extra seconds to realize the ballet had  ended. An awkward silence hung over the theater before it dawned on us that, Oh, now's the part where we clap.

 

I could have watched Clug's choreography for hours. But he was trying to do one thing too many. Sleek and cool movement may be gorgeous on its own, but it would take a true artistic genius to make it say something more.

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During one of Charlotte Nash's first few weeks with Houston Ballet II, she was thrown into a run-through of Balanchine's Theme and Variations. "I had never really understudied before and I didn't know what I was doing," she says. "I fell right away and was quickly replaced." For Nash, now a dancer with Festival Ballet Providence, the episode was a tough lesson. "I was mortified, but then I said to myself, 'Okay, I need to figure out how to learn things more quickly.'"

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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.

We dug into the details of Stretch Pointe's most game-changing features:

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The Joffrey Ballet's Amanda Assucena and Greig Matthews in Cathy Marston's Jane Eyre. Cheryl Mann, Courtesy Joffrey Ballet.

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

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Herman Cornejo in Don Quixote. Gene Schiavone, Courtesy ABT.

American Ballet Theatre's fall season at Lincoln Center's Koch Theater offers a chance to see the company in shorter works and mixed-repertoire programs. This year's October 16–27 run honors principal Herman Cornejo, who's celebrating his 20th anniversary with the company. Cornejo will be featured in a special celebratory program as well as a new work by Twyla Tharp (her 17th for the company), set to Johannes Brahms' String Quartet No. 2 in G Major, Op. 111. The October 26 program will include Cornejo in a pas de deux with his sister, former ABT dancer Erica Cornejo.

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