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Samantha Klanac Campanile and Joseph Watson in Nicolo Fonte's "Where We Left Off." Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy Aspen Santa Fe Ballet

In the final moments of Jiří Kylián's strenuous Return to a Strange Land, Samantha Klanac Campanile made sure her exhaustion didn't stop her from savoring the moment. She looked around The Joyce Theater as the lights began to dim and soaked up her last scheduled appearance there.

"I took a mental picture because I thought, I'm never going to do this again," she said. In September of 2016, after over 14 years with Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, Campanile retired. She and her husband moved back to Buffalo, New York, where they both grew up and first dated in high school. She settled into a new life as a fitness instructor and gave birth to daughter Anja in July 2017.

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Justin Peck rehearsing his new ballet, Reflections, with Houston Ballet. Lawrence Knox, Courtesy Houston Ballet.

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

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Ballet Careers
ASFB in rehearsal with director Tom Mossbrucker. Jessica Moore, Courtesy ASFB.

In 1996, Aspen Santa Fe Ballet artistic director Tom Mossbrucker was a veteran Joffrey Ballet dancer with no aspirations to direct a company. But while visiting a Colorado music festival with his partner, Jean-Philippe Malaty, also a dancer, a chance encounter changed his mind. "We met Bebe Schweppe, who ran a ballet school in Aspen but always dreamt that the city could have its own resident company," Mossbrucker recalls. "We thought she was crazy and said, 'Good luck with that!' But she thought we were the ones who could do it." After a few weeks of discussion, the pair moved to Colorado and a company was born.

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Artists of Houston Ballet rehearsing Stanton Welch's Sylvia. Amitava Sarkar, Courtesy Houston Ballet.

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

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

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BalletX launches its summer season on July 11. Photo by Gabriel Biencyzcki, Courtesy of BalletX.

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


Three World Premieres at BalletX Philadelphia Summer Series

Fresh off the heels of its Joyce Ballet Festival performances in New York, BalletX is launching its Summer Series with a trio of world premieres on July 11. The program, which runs through July 22 at The Wilma Theater in Philadelphia, features ballets by Penny Saunders, choreographer in residence for Grand Rapids Ballet; Andrew McNicol, BalletX's 2018 choreographic fellow; and Matthew Neenan, BalletX co-founder and company choreographer. Pennsylvania Ballet principal pianist Martha Koeneman will perform Mendelssohn's Songs without Words live for Neenan's work, which shows dancers attempting to solve a mysterious puzzle onstage. McNicol is inspired by Mozart's Requiem and his appreciation of the speed and athleticism of American dance. Saunders' piece will be accompanied by an original composition by Rosie Langabeer, a Philadelphia composer originally from New Zealand. Listen to the pair discuss the collaboration in the video below.


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Barak Ballet will perform E/SPACE at Joyce Ballet Festival this weekend. Photo David Friedman, Courtesy of Joyce Theater.

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


ABT Wraps Up Its Met Season with Whipped Cream

American Ballet Theatre's eight-week summer season at the Metropolitan Opera House, will wrap up this Saturday. From July 2-7, the company will perform Alexei Ratmansky's Whipped Cream. This candy-coated surrealist ballet features wacky, intricate sets and costumes from Mark Ryden and tells the story of a boy in a Viennese pastry shop who overindulges and falls into a state of wild intoxication that takes him on a journey reminiscent of Act II of The Nutcracker. For a behind-the-scenes look, check out these backstage photos from the 2017 premiere. During the run, Arron Scott will make his debut as The Boy, and Gabe Stone Shayer will make his New York debut in the same role. Thomas Forster and Calvin Royal III will perform as Prince Coffee for the first time in New York.


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Photo by Kyle Froman

Aspen Santa Fe Ballet dancer Jenelle Figgins' dance bag reflects her proactive approach to well- being. Rather than carrying a one-shouldered bag, which aggravates her back problems, she switched to a backpack. The rest of her essentials are neatly packed into their own small containers. "You know how you have a junk drawer? This is my junk bag, my safety net," she says. Inside, there's everything from face wash to homeopathic products like lavender essential oil and Bach Rescue Remedy, a flower essence. "They help calm me down when I'm dealing with stress throughout the day," she says. "I didn't know about Rescue Remedy until I came to Colorado, but all the dancers use it."

When she's seeking focus or motivation, Figgins turns to her favorite Philips headphones. "I carry these around all the time and I always have music on," she says. Currently, she's listening to albums like Kendrick Lamar's DAMN. and Solange's A Seat at the Table. Figgins is also a huge reader: "I bring books on tour and then I buy more." In addition to novels, she likes to read books with positive affirmations, like Deepak Chopra's The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success.

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Need some inspiration for staying in shape this summer? These four dancers know how to balance rest, cross-training and fun to start off their next season right.


Photo by Charlie McCullers, Courtesy Atlanta Ballet.

Jackie Nash

Atlanta Ballet

Typical summer break: mid-May–August

On rest: I need to take one solid week, at least, to let all those last bits of the season go. After Nutcracker we push straight through until May, so a lot of little things in my body need to heal, and I want to have some mental space to go over how the season went.

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There is something refreshing about 23-year-old Aspen Santa Fe Ballet company member Emily Proctor. Perhaps it’s her calm, quiet nature, her modest attitude or her everlasting desire to learn and improve. Whatever it is, her admirable work ethic has made her a valuable addition to the ASFB roster.

“Emily’s a maniac when it comes to working,” says Tom Mossbrucker, artistic director of ASFB. “And she’s got a brain on top of being a beautiful dancer.”

Proctor grew up in North Carolina, where she spent her high school years training in the ballet program at North Carolina School of the Arts. Despite this background, a career was not a forgone conclusion. “Dancing has always been a stop-and-go thing for me,” says Proctor. “I wasn’t the type to have pointe shoes in my room, and I didn’t know if I wanted to be in a company.”

However, Proctor is “not laid back when it comes to dancing,” she says, adding, “especially training. Although I grew up focusing on classical ballet technique, I was just never sure that I would fit in at a big ballet company. There’s something about my body type. I feel I’m more suited for contemporary. I’m more turned in than turned out.”

She worked hard at NCSA, performed in The Nutcracker with Carolina Ballet, and in 2003 enrolled at Juilliard, where she could feed her passion for contemporary movement.

At Juilliard, Proctor studied Limón, Horton, Graham, Cunningham and Taylor techniques, on top of daily ballet classes. She also performed with Mikhail Baryshnikov’s Hell’s Kitchen Dance company in Aszure Barton’s Come In, on a national and international tour.

Mossbrucker noticed her in class while she was at Juilliard, and offered her a job. After graduating, and without thinking too much about it, Proctor moved across the country to Colorado and became the “new girl” in a company whose members have been there for anywhere from 4 to 12 years. Luckily, “everyone is nurturing and very accepting,” says Proctor. It does help that she made the move with her boyfriend and now fellow ASFB dancer, Nolan DeMarco McGahan.

In a company of 11 dancers, Proctor gets substantial performance time. She has held her own in works by Itzik Galili, Helen Pickett, Jorma Elo and others. 

“We’re thrilled about Emily,” says Mossbrucker. “She’s a striking performer and has a wonderful persona onstage.”

Yet Proctor says she wants to build up her confidence. “A lack of confidence can keep you worrying all the time that you aren’t good enough,” she says. “It gets in the way if you want to go onstage and give fully to the choreography.”

Although she has not outlined precise future goals, she knows that she wants to continue to learn about herself and expose others to the power of dance. “The most valuable opportunity that dancing offers is the chance to reach new levels of awareness within yourself every day,” she says. “It’s hard to keep pushing myself out of my comfort zone, but you never know what your work will mean to other people, and it’s always exciting to strive for self-improvement every day in that way.”

Laura Di Orio dances and writes in New York City.

American Dance Festival has traditionally showcased great modern companies. But this year ADF is taking a slightly different tack, exploring the symbiotic relationship between ballet and modern dance with its “Where Ballet and Modern Meet” theme. Many of the modern choreographers whose works will be presented during the Durham-based festival—familiar names like Paul Taylor, Twyla Tharp, Ohad Naharin and Mark Morris—have created works for major ballet companies. ADF will also feature pieces by ballet choreographers like William Forsythe (Aspen Santa Fe Ballet is set to perform his Slingerland Pas de Deux, pictured) who have helped shape the world of modern dance. The festival runs June 11–July 25; www.americandancefestival.org. — MF

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