For Cincinnati Ballet artistic director Victoria Morgan, the company's annual Kaplan New Works Series is all about invention. "If you're comfortable, then you're not in the right place," she says. This year's program, held September 13–23 at the Aronoff Center, features a new kind of invention: Two company dancers will step into the role of choreographer for the first time. Soloist David Morse and corps dancer Taylor Carrasco will join contemporary queen Mia Michaels, Cincinnati Ballet resident choreographer Jennifer Archibald and San Francisco Ballet dancer Myles Thatcher in creating new works.
Wonder what's going on in ballet this week? We've pulled together some highlights.
Houston Ballet Brings a World Premiere to Jacob's Pillow
August 15-18, for the first time in almost four decades, Houston Ballet is appearing at Jacob's Pillow, the famous summer dance festival in Becket, MA. Headlining the program is Just, a world premiere commissioned by the Pillow and choreographed by HB artistic director Stanton Welch, set to music by contemporary composer David Lang. Also from Welch are Clear, an abstract piece for seven men and seven women, and excerpts from Sons de L'ame, with music by Chopin. The company will also perform In Dreams, choreographed by former Pillow choreographic associate Trey McIntyre.
Wonder what's going on in ballet this week? We've pulled together some highlights.
The Australian Ballet's Triple Bill, Verve, Includes New Work by Company Dancer Alice Topp
Verve, a triple-bill program from The Australian Ballet running June 21-30 in Melbourne, will host revivals of works from resident choreographers Stephen Baynes and Tim Harbour, as well as a world premiere from company coryphée Alice Topp. Topp's Aurum is inspired by kintsugi, a Japanese art in which broken ceramics are mended using lacquer colored with silver or gold, so that the cracks are emphasized, instead of hidden. In Aurum, Topp applies that philosophy to the human ability to find beauty in vulnerability and imperfections. Completing the bill are Baynes's Constant Variants, which pairs neo-classical ballet with a Tchaikovsky score, and Harbour's Filigree and Shadow, a contemporary ballet featuring striking set and lighting design.
In honor of its 85th anniversary, San Francisco Ballet has commissioned works from 12 internationally-recognized choreographers to contribute to the company's Unbound: A Festival of New Works, now in progress. Pointe spoke with Belgian-Colombian choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa and corps member Solomon Golding about the process of making Guernica, Ochoa's work inspired by the painting of the same name by Pablo Picasso.
The Broadway revival of Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein's Carousel opened last week, and while it stars luminaries from the worlds of musical theater (Joshua Henry, Jessie Mueller) and opera (soprano Renée Fleming), it also stars choreography by one of ballet's own heavy hitters: New York City Ballet soloist and resident choreographer Justin Peck, who shares top billing with the musical's director, Jack O'Brien.
We have some very exciting news here at Pointe. From January 2–15, we will be streaming Scottish Ballet's production of Sir Kenneth MacMillan's The Fairy's Kiss (Le Baiser de la Fée). The free broadcast, filmed live in October at the Festival Theatre, Edinburgh, will be available on Pointe's Facebook page and our website starting at noon (EST) on January 2.
Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale "The Ice Maiden," The Fairy's Kiss is a one-act ballet composed by Igor Stravinsky in 1928. (Read the synopsis here.) While several choreographers have tackled the ballet over the years, MacMillan's version is especially rare. Created for The Royal Ballet in 1960, the production's sets and costumes proved so elaborate that it was too difficult to pair with other ballets, and the company shelved it after 33 performances. Although The Fairy's Kiss was briefly revived in 1986, Scottish Ballet is the first company to perform it since, honoring of the 25th anniversary of MacMillan's death.
Mia Thompson in "The Fairy's Kiss." Photo by Andy Ross, Courtesy Scottish Ballet.
The broadcast stars Scottish Ballet principals Constance Devernay, Bethany Kingsley-Garner and Andrew Peasgood, with sets and costumes by Gary Harris. Check out some behind-the-scenes footage below—then call your friends and plan your viewing party!
Last Thursday was World Ballet Day LIVE, the official 22-hour live-stream relay showcasing companies across the globe. If you were busy (we know that you don't always have the luxury to spend an entire day watching ballet), don't fret. Many of the companies involved recorded their classes, rehearsals and interviews from the day of, and we rounded them up for you to watch at your leisure. Careful, though; there are more than twenty hours of footage included here... make sure you take a break to, you know, sleep.
First up is San Francisco Ballet with a full five hours, including rehearsal for Balanchine's timeless classic, Serenade.
The Royal Ballet's WBD stream is split into three parts. Here's the first chunk, featuring company rehearsals of a few Sir Kenneth MacMillan ballets as well as Christopher Wheeldon's Alice in Wonderland (a measly two hours and 45 minutes). You can find part 2 here and the full company class here. The video also features a quick aerial tour of London from the balcony of the Royal Opera House.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of George Balanchine's Jewels, and companies around the world are paying homage. While last summer's Lincoln Center Festival collaboration with New York City Ballet, Paris Opéra Ballet and Bolshoi Ballet was all glamour and excitement, Pacific Northwest Ballet is taking a reverential look back in advance of its opening performances next week.
In 2014, PNB artistic director Peter Boal invited four stars of Balanchine's original 1967 cast—Violette Verdy, Mimi Paul, Edward Villella and Jacques d'Amboise—to coach the company in their signature roles. And, thank heavens, they captured it all on film. This 20-minute promotional documentary offers priceless footage of them in rehearsals, interviews and lecture demonstrations, offering fascinating insights into Balanchine's creative process and original intentions.
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Wearing leggings and a puffy vest as she works in one of The Royal Ballet's light-filled studios, Charlotte Edmonds could pass for a corps de ballet member. Instead, she is choreographing on them, creating dynamic, ballet-based contemporary dance in her role as the company's first-ever Young Choreographer.
"At the Opera House you have dancers who have 20 years more experience," she says. "I bow to their experience, but I also try to hold the room. It is sometimes quite nerve-racking! But it is always exciting."
Edmonds' uncanny instincts for choreography and leadership were already apparent at age 11, when she was a first-year student in the Royal Ballet School's Lower School—and a finalist in its competition for the Ninette de Valois Junior Choreographic Award. She got her first professional commission at age 16, and was barely 19 when Royal Ballet director Kevin O'Hare named her the inaugural recipient of the company's Young Choreographer Programme. The paid position provides her with studio space, access
to dancers and the mentorship of renowned choreographer Wayne McGregor.
Photo by Alice Pennefeather, Courtesy ROH
If everyone in your ballet class has called out sick on October 5, there's a perfectly good explanation: that's when World Ballet Day LIVE is scheduled to return. In other words, 24 hours of binge-worthy behind-the-scenes footage featuring five of the world's leading ballet companies. Tune in to Facebook Live to watch as The Australian Ballet, Bolshoi Ballet, The Royal Ballet, National Ballet of Canada and San Francisco Ballet take you inside the studio for classes, rehearsals and interviews with your favorite dancers. Details have yet to be released, but we'll be sure to keep you in the loop! In the meantime, mark your calendars, and enjoy some of San Francisco Ballet's highlights from last year's event.
Here at Pointe, we love dancers who use their talent to tap into other creative projects. For New York City Ballet corps dancers Emily Kikta and Peter Walker, their mutual love of choreography and film-making has yielded a major commission: creating eight short, site-specific films to promote NYCB's summer season at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. Shot on location in Saratoga Springs and nearby Troy, New York, the minute-long videos have been released one a day this week in advance of the season's opening on July 5. And we've got an exclusive sneak-peek at the last two films!
Company class is a little more exciting these days at Pacific Northwest Ballet. Look over in the corner of the studio and it's obvious why—Wendy Whelan is here. Dressed in a vest, with her pants tucked into her socks, one might almost forget that her name is virtually synonymous with the term ballet. But watch her do a devéloppé and you instantly remember. Her collection of accomplishments is extensive—classical ballerina, freelance artist, inspirational teacher, or even, as of late, documentary film star. But now, she's adding another new hat: ballet stager.