Viral Videos
Tamara Rojo in "La Bayadère," via YouTube.

Tamara Rojo joined the elite, though thankfully growing, roster of female ballet company directors seven years ago when she took the helm at English National Ballet. Since then she's managed the even more uncommon feat of continuing to perform as a leading principal dancer for ENB while directing the company. Rojo began her remarkable career in her home country of Spain, but at 22 years old she left for the UK, dancing with Scottish National Ballet, ENB, and then The Royal Ballet, where she spent 12 years as a principal and earned international acclaim for her assured technique and passionate stage presence. Her performances, like this 2009 La Bayadère, show an artist truly in command of her craft.


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James Sofranko in Paul Taylor's Company B with San Francisco Ballet. Photo by Erik Tomasson, Courtesy SFB.

James Sofranko, longtime San Francisco Ballet soloist, will succeed Patricia Barker as Grand Rapids Ballet's new artistic director, effective July 1. Sofranko topped a list of 40 applicants from around the world to become only the fifth artistic director in GRB's 47-year history. The 38-year-old will continue his work with SFDanceworks, the Bay Area contemporary ballet company that he founded in 2014. Pointe spoke with Sofranko about his transition.

Had you been actively seeking an artistic directorship?

In a way. I had applied to two other places before to sort of test the waters. With my career at SFB nearing the end, I began thinking about it more and got excited about what I could potentially bring to a company such as Grand Rapids Ballet.

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Hope Muir in the Charlotte Ballet studios. Photo by Jeff Cravotta, Courtesy Charlotte Ballet.

When Hope Muir was asked to apply to be Charlotte Ballet's new artistic director, the Scottish Ballet assistant artistic director flew stateside to North Carolina for some sneaky reconnaissance. After scouting out the city and the company, Muir gathered it would be a good fit. She worked as artistic advisor for Charlotte Ballet last season, but officially took over her new post on July 1.

While Muir's vision for the company emphasizes new commissions and collaborations, she's committed to building on the legacy of former director Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux. Famed Balanchine dancer Patricia McBride is staying on as associate artistic director. "I have a firm belief in the classical training and will continue to produce works on pointe and with storytelling," says Muir, formerly a dancer with English National Ballet, among other companies. "I'm just coming at it with a different experience and skill set, and am hoping to introduce new ways of doing things."

Muir with Charlotte Ballet dancers. Photo by Justin Driscoll, Courtesy Charlotte Ballet.

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(Brittany Stone, shot for our June/July 2013 cover, photo by Nathan Sayers)

Things are changing at The Washington Ballet! Former American Ballet Theatre star Julie Kent was appointed as the new artistic director in March, and she released a statement during the company's press conference today detailing her first season of programming—which coincides with the company's 40th anniversary. It's a fairly standard mix, though the arrangement suggests a dancer's sensitivity to what might be enjoyable and informative to rehearse and perform at the same time. The season also reflects the expertise she gained as an ABT principal, dancing the company's rich repertoire of classical choreography.

(Photo by Jesse Dittmar/The Washington Post)

The season opens in March, 2017 with Giselle, and then continues into a mixed bill of Jiří Kylián's Petite Mort, Justin Peck's In Creases (a company premiere) and William Forsythe's In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated. In late April, the TWB will dance George Balanchine's Allegro Brillante, Twyla Tharp's Nine Sinatra Songs and Alexei Ratmansky's Seven Sonatas (also a company premiere). In late May, the company will perform Antony Tudor's Jardin aux Lilas, Frederick Ashton's The Dream and a to-be-determined world premiere. We're very curious to find out who Kent chooses to complete such a dazzlingly subtle program, especially since most contemporary ballet choreographers deal in extremes.

New dancers include Boston Ballet's Brittany Stone, Cuban-trained Rolando Sarabia, ABT Studio Company member Adelaide Clauss, who will join as an apprentice, and Stephen Nakagawa, who was promoted from the TWB trainee program to Studio Company member.

 

 

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