Isabelle Lapierre in a still from Finding Clara. Courtesy Justice Studios.
Last winter, we told you all about "Finding Clara," a YouTube series produced by tween clothing brand Justice. It followed four BalletMet Academy students cast in BalletMet's The Nutcracker. This year, it gets even better: The heart-melting show has been turned into a full-length documentary. Finding Clara was released today for rental and purchase on Amazon, Google Play and iTunes.
Finding Clara is a full-length documentary produced by Justice Studios that follows four young dancers from the BalletMet Academy as they prepare for The Nutcracker's leading role. Read all about it here. We're giving away five copies of the DVD including some extra gifts from tween clothing retailer Justice. Enter now to win!
San Francisco Ballet is bringing six works from their Unbound: A Festival of New Works to The Kennedy Center this week. Here, dancers are pictured in Christopher Wheeldon's Bound To. Photo by Erik Tomasson, Courtesy The Kennedy Center.
Wonder what's going on in ballet this week? We've pulled together some highlights.
Patricia Delgado in Pam Tanowitz's "Solo for Patricia 2017." Photo by Erin Baiano, Courtesy Vail Dance Festival.
Wonder what's going on in ballet this week? We've pulled together some highlights.
Vail Dance Fest Enters Its Second Week
With half a month devoted to creating new art in the midst of stunning nature, Vail Dance Festival seems a dancer's paradise. Last week marked American Ballet Theatre's festival debut. The second week of performances, starting July 30, brings even more amazing ballet, with dancers and choreographers presenting a slew of new collaborations and premieres. Get the scoop on each program below.
Alonzo King LINES Ballet Takes the Vail Stage
July 30-31, Alonzo King LINES Ballet presents two different programs.The first performance, is a free, family-friendly event held in the Avon Performance Pavilion. The second, held at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, presents two works by King: Sand, a piece from 2016 set to jazz music, and Biophony, an exploration of the Earth's diverse ecosystems.
BalletMet's world premiere of Edwaard Liang's "Giselle" opens this weekend. Photo by Jennifer Zumda, Courtesy BalletMet.
This weekend features two romantic ballets right on time for Valentine's Day, a mixed repertory program by New York Theatre Ballet including a work by Gemma Bond and plenty of Olympic figure skating featuring our favorite former dancer, Nathan Chen.
Ballet West presents Sir Frederic Ashton's Cinderella, opening on February 9, 2018 and running through the 25 at the Capitol Theatre in Salt Lake City, UT. This timeless retelling of the classic fairytale promises lots of sparkly tutus and magical sets. We love this short video promo featuring real-life couple Beckanne Sisk and Chase O'Connell. Tickets can be purchased here.
Can't get enough Nutcracker? Don't fear. Tween clothing brand Justice has just released a web series called "Finding Clara," which follows four young dancers cast as Clara in BalletMet's production of The Nutcracker. The first three episodes are available on YouTube, and the final installment will be released on Friday, December 22. Each video is about 20minutes long.
Justice is headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, the home of BalletMet, leading to an easy collaboration. The company gave Justice exclusive and uninhibited access to everything behind the scenes, from auditions to rehearsals to performance. Part of Justice's mission is to empower young girls and spread positive messages, andthey have a huge video collection. This isn't their first foray into ballet—earlier this fall they created a series of ballet video tutorials. A representative from Justice told us that the goal of the newseries is to give "a real-life snapshot of the heart and soul these girls put into their Nutcracker performance—the rehearsals, overcoming challenges, celebrating wins and the bonds of friendships made."
The four Claras—Alaina Kelly, Molly Rainford-Dreibelbis, Lauren Grace Onderko and Isabelle Lapierre—range in age from 10-13, and their positive, excited energy is clear throughout the series. The issues that they deal with such as balancing schoolwork and rehearsal, managing jealousy and competition with their peers, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle despite busy schedules will feel familiar to dancers of all ages. So over your holiday break, cozy up with some hot chocolate and dive into the world of "Finding Clara."
Check out the trailer below, followed by the first three episodes:
Benz with David Ward in Edwaard Liang's "Romeo and Juliet." Photo by Jennifer Zmuda, Courtesy BalletMet.
Romeo wasn't the only one falling in love during Edwaard Liang's production of Romeo and Juliet at BalletMet last April; those in the audience witnessing retiring company star Adrienne Benz's final performance as Juliet were equally captivated.
Benz and Ward. Photo by Jennifer Zmuda, Courtesy BalletMet.
The diminutive powerhouse capped her 14-year BalletMet career with a passionate portrayal of the young heroine, one that coursed with the innocence and exuberance of youth. Her combination of adroit acting and assured technique was helped along by her onstage chemistry with her partner David Ward. Together, they were utterly believable as Shakespeare's fabled star-crossed lovers.
Between book deals and Under Armour endorsements, her own Barbie doll and a spot at the judges table on NBC's "World of Dance," Misty Copeland has been one of the few ballerinas to break into mainstream pop culture. Now she's conquering the world of cosmetics. Yesterday, Esteé Lauder announced that Copeland is the new spokesmodel for its fragrance, Modern Muse. The name seems fitting, given how her journey to becoming American Ballet Theatre's first black principal woman has inspired so many. She'll front the fragrance's campaign across digital, print, in-store and television advertisements.
The dancer-as-brand-ambassador theme is catching on. Back in ballet's glory days, Suzanne Farrell was the face of L'Air du Temps perfume, while Mikhail Baryshnikov attached his name to not one, but two colognes. After a prolonged dry spell, we're happy to see dancers receiving mainstream visibility again as more companies book them to represent their brands. Here are just a few recent examples:
I felt shattered. Cut from the audition at barre. I was 24 years old and had been dancing professionally for eight years already. I'd been very fortunate in my career so far, and although I was no stranger to rejections, this was a first. I thought: I must not be a good dancer anymore. I'm a has-been. Maybe it's time to rethink my career path.
As I waited for my friend, who came to the audition with me and was asked to stay, I realized which sort of dancers were let go early and which ones were kept. Everyone around me packing up their things was a seasoned dancer. A couple I knew from other companies, all beautiful and capable. The ones that were kept were young and aspiring; they had lots of potential, but no professional experience.
Apparently, there’s a black market for Nutcracker costumes.
Festival Ballet Providence's Sugar Plum Fairy tutu. Photo Courtesy FBP.
Back in November, Festival Ballet Providence artistic director Mihailo Djuric found himself in a serious bind when a trip to the company’s storage facility in Pawtucket, RI, revealed that 57 costumes for its upcoming Nutcracker production had been stolen. Important items such as a Swarovski crystal-embellished Sugar Plum Fairy tutu and the Nutcracker’s mask had been quietly removed from their crates. “Many of the stolen costumes were for our children’s cast members, which is especially disheartening,” Djuric said in a statement. The company had mere weeks to figure out how to replace dozens of tunics and tutus before opening night on December 16.
An original angel harp next to a newly constructed one made by Mystic Scenic Studios earlier this week. Photo via Facebook.
Not wasting a moment’s time, Djuric called ballet companies nationwide to find similar costumes he could rent for the production. Since then, over a dozen have come to the rescue, including Kansas City Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, BalletMet, Rochester City Ballet, Connecticut Ballet and Mobile Ballet in Alabama. This week, 10 volunteer costumers from around New England have been sewing nonstop, reconstructing new pieces from scratch (such as the Toy Soldier jackets) and altering costumes that were not stolen to match rented items. “This entire process has required a tremendous amount of creativity and imagination to make sure we get this show on stage and looking sharp,” says Djuric. Their hard work paid off—by Thursday morning’s school performance for 1,000 area children, all costumes and props were reconstructed or replaced.
Have you seen this Nutcracker? The tunic and head were stolen last month. Photo courtesy FBP.
A motive for the theft is still unclear, and Pawtucket police continue to investigate. While Festival Ballet is still working on an exact figure, the financial loss is estimated to be in the tens of thousands of dollars, and the company will be forced to make new costumes next year. But in the meantime, Providence can still enjoy its annual Nutcracker magic, thanks to the dance community’s generosity.
ABT's Calvin Royal III in Alexei Ratmansky's Serenade after Plato's Symposium. Photo by Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy ABT.
Miami City Ballet's National Tour
Artists of Miami City Ballet in Justin Peck's Heatscape. Photo by Gene Schiavone, Courtesy Miami City Ballet.
In late April at the Harris Theater, Chicagoans found Miami City Ballet firing on all cylinders, following the company's Lincoln Center debut and an engagement at Northrop in Minneapolis. Stage-filling Balanchine classics like Bourrée Fantasque, Serenade and Symphony in Three Movements struck a perfect balance between relaxed exuberance and clean execution, while seasoned stars like Jeanette Delgado and Renato Penteado shone in contemporary works by Justin Peck (Heatscape) and Liam Scarlett (Viscera), respectively. Most memorably, a dream team of 23 artists—including the irrepressible Nathalia Arja—gave a commanding presentation of Symphonic Dances, created for MCB by Alexei Ratmansky.
Slow-mo and colored chalk. Will we ever get tired of it?
BalletMet's latest video is an ode to the power of bodies in motion and an exploration of how creativity unites us. Becoming Violet features six BalletMet dancers: Miguel Anaya, Jessica Brown, Grace-Ann Powers, Jarrett Reimers, Josh Seibel and Carly Wheaton. The film was made in partnership with Columbus native Steven Weinzierl, of New York City creative studio Lair, and choreographed by BalletMet artistic director Edwaard Liang. Touchingly, Weinzierl said in a statement that this film is different from a typical marketing spot. "It's a passion project," he said. "It's for the love of the art form." We can't think of a better reason to do anything!
Usually, ballet companies create stunning promotional videos for the beginning of their season, or for a specific ballet. But Becoming Violet exists just to showcase the company's dancers. In fact, stand-alone ballet videos are becoming more common. Just look at Sergei Polunin's viral performance to Hosier's "Take Me to Church," Or Ezra Hurwitz's meditative On the Sound. Check out BalletMet below: