American Repertory Ballet's Ryoko Tanaka remembers her first class in the United States. She was 18 years old and a scholarship student at the Milwaukee Ballet summer intensive. "At barre, I reached out during demi-plié, and I saw the guy across from me in the class. I could tell he was enjoying himself. I could tell these people loved ballet. And I felt I fit." From then on the Japan native, now in her first season as a full company member with ARB, was certain the U.S. was where she was meant to make her career.
For dancers like Tanaka who cross borders to join American companies, the challenges of being far from home, adjusting to a new culture and navigating visa applications quickly become a fact of life. Yet, as these expat dancers' stories show, with a little patience, dancing abroad can be an incredible adventure.
National Ballet of Canada's Francesco Gabriele Frola in "Nijinsky." Photo by Karolina Kuras, Courtesy NBoC.
What's going on in ballet this week? We've pulled together some highlights.
National Ballet of Canada Brings John Neumeier's Nijinsky to San Francisco
NBoC is bringing their acclaimed production of John Neumeier's Nijinsky to San Francisco's War Memorial Opera House April 3-8 as part of San Francisco Ballet's spring season. As part of a reciprocal agreement, SFB will tour to Toronto in an upcoming season. We're jealous that Bay Area audiences have the chance to see this thrilling ballet, which delves into the life and work of the famous 20th century choreographer and dancer Vaslav Nijinsky. Catch a glimpse in the below video.
National Ballet of Canada's Skylar Campbell and Elena Lobsanova in "The Dreamers Ever Leave You." Photo by Karolina Kuras, Courtesy NBoC.
This week is bursting at the seams with ballet. Earlier this month multiple companies performed the same ballet (think Romeo and Juliet), but this week brings a truly eclectic mix of new works, company premieres and old classics all around the U.S. and Canada. We've rounded up programs by eight companies—National Ballet of Canada, Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Houston Ballet, American Repertory Ballet, Sarasota Ballet, Ballet Memphis, Texas Ballet Theater and Indianapolis Ballet—to give you a sense of what's happening.
National Ballet of Canada
In honor of Canada's 150th anniversary in 2017, the Toronto-based National Ballet of Canada is presenting a mixed bill February 28–March 4 titled Made in Canada. The program features works made on NBoC by three of Canada's most lauded choreographers: Robert Binet's The Dreamers Ever Leave You, James Kudelka's The Four Seasons and Crystal Pite's Emergence. Check out the preview below.
Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre's 'The Nutcracker.' Photo by Rich Sofranko, Courtesy PBT
Catching a performance of The Nutcracker has long been a holiday tradition for many families. And now, more and more companies are adding sensory-friendly elements to specific shows in an effort to make the classic ballet inclusive to children and adults with special needs.
While the accommodations vary depending on the company, many are presenting shorter versions of the ballet with more relaxed theater rules. Additionally, lower sound and stage light levels during the performance, as well as trained staff on hand, make The Nutcracker more accessible for those on the autism spectrum and others with special needs.
Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre's performance will take place on Tuesday, December 26th, and they are one of the pioneer companies in presenting sensory-friendly performances of The Nutcracker (their first production was in 2013). PBT has also offered sensory-friendly versions of Jorden Morris' Peter Pan and Lew Christensen's Beauty and the Beast in the past.
See our list of sensory-friendly performances, and check out each site for all of the details regarding their offerings.
Erikka Reenstierna-Cates, Mattia Pallozzi and Monica Giragosian in costume for Pride and Prejudice. Photo by Richard Termine, Courtesy ARB.
Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen's timeless novel of class, family and love, will come to life this spring in Princeton, New Jersey. American Repertory Ballet's premiere on April 21 marks one of the few times Austen's writing has appeared as a full-length story ballet. ARB artistic director and choreographer Douglas Martin told Pointe why the story, famed for its witty dialogue, makes perfect sense as dance.
What inspired you to tackle this?
I wanted a full-length ballet that could be specifically for ARB. It's hard to write a great love story, and Pride and Prejudice has many different kinds of relationships at its heart, because of the Bennet sisters. That gives me many lead couples and all kinds of ideas about how people can interact with each other.