Ballet Stars
Yan Revazov, Courtesy Staatsballett Berlin

When Yuria Isaka danced the grand pas de deux in Staatsballett Berlin's The Nutcracker alongside Daniil Simkin last winter, you never would have known it was her first season as a professional; a graduate of the Princess Grace Academy in Monaco, the fledgling corps member dances with a refined maturity and pristine clarity, exuding a particularly honest and infectious joy. "It's only now starting to sink in that I got to dance Clara," admits Isaka, a native of Japan. "Daniil is so imaginative and kind, and really took time to work with me on the role. It was amazing to dance with him!"

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At this point, you'd think we'd all be used to the level of technical absurdity Daniil Simkin achieves when he's playing around in the studio. But then he did this:

...and now we're low-key appalled in the absolute best way.

After we picked our jaws up from the floor, we were inspired to dig up clips of some of our other favorite dancers turning like it's no big deal. Here are just a few standouts.

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A young Robbie Fairchild, posing for a tap number. Courtesy Fairchild.

When you hear names like Maria Kochetkova, Sutton Foster and Robbie Fairchild, you immediately picture flashes of them as the fully-formed, phenomenal performers they are today.

But even when they were kids, they had a glimmer of their future star power, giving a glimpse of what was to come. Thankfully for Instagram, we've got the pictures and home videos to prove it.

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2014 Junior Gold Medalist Gisele Bethea and partner Michal Wozniak at the 2014 USA IBC Awards Gala. Photo by Richard Finkelstein, Courtesy USA IBC.

From June 10–23, 119 competitors from 19 countries will gather in Jackson, Mississippi, for the 11th USA International Ballet Competition. Held every four years, the USA IBC has helped launch the careers of dozens of stars, including Daniil Simkin, Misa Kuranaga and Brooklyn Mack. "The 2014 competition was good, but we're making this year better," says jury chairman John Meehan. Changes include broadened age limits for competitors and a larger sum of prize money. This summer's competition also has a special focus on Marius Petipa in honor of his 200th birthday. There will be an emphasis on Petipa repertoire, and choreographer Alexei Ratmansky will give a workshop for competitors on his reconstructions of original Petipa choreography. This edition will also honor the legacy of Robert Joffrey, who was a catalyst in launching the USA IBC with founder Thalia Mara. Dancers from The Joffrey Ballet will perform in the opening ceremony.

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Ballet Stars

Though according to our calendars today is the first day of spring, it feels like anything but. That's why we've been extra jealous watching American Ballet Theatre dancers' Instagram posts from their tour to Singapore. From swimming in rooftop pools to hiking with monkeys to jet-lag influenced shenanigans (oh, and dancing Swan Lake), their photos are making us believe that warm weather really is on its way. We rounded up some of our favorite shots from the first half of ABT's Asian tour; they'll spend this week in Hong Kong dancing Alexei Ratmansky's Whipped Cream. Keep the photos coming, ABT!


Rather than cling onto the railing in fear (like we would have), Isabella Boylston stepped gracefully into the highest pool in the world with a low arabesque.

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Maria Kochetkova, who will perform at the Chicago Auditorium Theatre. Photo by Erik Tomasson, courtesy Auditorium Theatre.

If you'll be in the Chicago area next month, the historic Auditorium Theatre is putting together a one-night-only performance you don't want to miss. The event is in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the theater's reopening in 1967, which featured a performance of George Balanchine's A Midsummer Night's Dream by former New York City Ballet principals Suzanne Farrell and Edward Villella. With Farrell and Villella returning to the theater as guests, the November 12th program will include a mixed repertory performed by dancers from companies including American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet, The Joffrey Ballet, The Washington Ballet, The Suzanne Farrell Ballet, Vienna State Ballet and Dutch National Ballet.

The Auditorium Theatre in Chicago from its 1967 opening. Photo by Richard Nickel, courtesy Auditorium Theatre.

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Houston Ballet's Jared Matthews and Sara Webb in"The Sleeping Beauty." Photo by Amitava Sarkar, Courtesy Houston Ballet.

Despite the devastation and pain that Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have left in their wake this fall, it's been encouraging to see dancers step up in aid of their communities: When the future of Houston Ballet's Nutcracker seemed uncertain, venues around the city pulled together to allow the company to produce the show on a "hometown tour." And when Florida ballet companies had to evacuate, Atlanta Ballet and Charlotte Ballet welcomed them with open arms. In addition, New York City-based studio Broadway Dance Center offered community classes in September with proceeds donated to the American Red Cross.

The next in this series of good deeds is Hearts for Houston, a benefit performance bringing dancers from seven major companies together at New York City's Alvin Ailey Citigroup Theater to raise money for the United Way of Greater Houston's Harvey Relief Fund. Scheduled for Sunday, October 22, the evening will feature members of the Houston Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet, Texas Ballet Theater, The Washington Ballet and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Hearts for Houston is imagined and produced by Houston Ballet principal dancers Yuriko Kajiya and Jared Matthews (both formerly of ABT) and funded by patrons Phoebe and Bobby Tudor and sponsor Neiman Marcus.


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Ballet Stars

Since joining American Ballet Theatre as a soloist in 2008, Russian-born Daniil Simkin has become a fixture in the New York City dance scene. In addition to performing leading roles with ABT in everything from Giselle to Whipped Cream, Simkin has also spearheaded his own side projects like 2015's INTENSIO and, most recently, his Falls the Shadow at the Guggenheim Museum's rotunda.

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Daniil Simkin. Courtesy Works & Process at the Guggenheim.

On the heels of his successful 2015 project INTENSIO , American Ballet Theatre principal Daniil Simkin is presenting a new multi-media work at the Guggenheim Museum's Works & Process series set in the museum's multistoried rotunda. "The rotunda is iconic, white and symmetrical," he says. "Having dance and projection in there is an amazing sight." The new work, created by Hubbard Street Dance Chicago resident choreographer Alejandro Cerrudo, is titled Falls the Shadow and will premiere September 4.

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Viral Videos

American Ballet Theatre is in the midst of Le Corsaire this week as part of the company's annual season at the Metropolitan Opera House. One of the ballet's most celebrated and challenging male roles is Ali, the Slave. Daniil Simkin is dancing the part this week. A dancer who never seems to disappoint, Simkin is sure to pull out all the technical stops and dazzle audiences with his charisma (case in point).

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Photo by Gene Schiavone, Courtesy ABT

Fluffy snow yaks, dancing cupcakes and a slithering candy-cane worm. These, along with many more candy confections (and a creepy doctor with a massive head), make up the cast of characters in Alexei Ratmansky's new full-length Whipped Cream at American Ballet Theatre. The company, which performed the world premiere in California in March, is gearing up for the New York debut on May 22. Needless to say, there's been lots of anticipation over pop-surrealist Mark Ryden's fantastical costume and set designs.

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Deborah Ory and Ken Brower have done it again. The husband-wife team behind NYC Dance Project recently released a promotional video for their new photography book, The Art of Movement. (By the way, we’re giving away four copies for free—click here to enter.) Shot in black and white at the NeueHouse Madison Square in New York City, the film stars American Ballet Theatre principal Daniil Simkin and soloist Cassandra Trenary in all of their stunning glory. Dancing both together and individually, the pair swirl, leap and undulate as dreamily as the music they’re dancing to (Dustin O’Halloran’s “We Move Lightly”).

Both artists have been in the news lately: Simkin, whose INTENSIO project was a big hit last year, announced a new project blending technology and dance at The Guggenheim Museum next September, as part of its Works & Process Rotunda Project. And next week on November 15, Trenary and corps member Gabe Stone Shayer will represent ABT at the Erik Bruhn Prize competition.

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