Viral Videos

What do Diana Vishneva, Olga Smirnova, Kristina Shapran and Maria Khoreva all have in common? These women, among the most impressive talents to graduate from the Vaganova Ballet Academy in recent years, all studied under legendary professor Lyudmila Kovaleva. Kovaleva, a former dancer with the Kirov Ballet (now the Mariinsky), is beloved by her students and admired throughout the ballet world for her ability to pull individuality and artistry out of the dancers she trains. Like any great teacher, Kovaleva is remarkably generous with her wealth of knowledge; it seems perfect, then, that she appears as the Fairy of Generosity in this clip from a 1964 film of the Kirov's The Sleeping Beauty.

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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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News
Diana Vishneva explores Aurora's 100-year sleep. Photo by Inna Nebeluk, Courtesy Sleeping Beauty Dreams.

This winter, the renowned Russian dancer Diana Vishneva will appear in her most high-profile project since she retired from American Ballet Theatre in 2017. The 42-year-old prima ballerina, who gave birth to her first child, Rudolf Victor, last May, is set to star in the ambitious, technologically innovative multimedia production Sleeping Beauty Dreams, choreographed by Edward Clug. The production will also star Marcelo Gomes as Prince Peter. Inspired by the provocative question "What did Princess Aurora dream during her 100-year sleep?", Sleeping Beauty Dreams premieres December 7–8 at Miami's Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts and continues to New York City's Beacon Theatre December 14–15, before moving on to what promotors say will be a two-part international tour.

Sleeping Beauty Dreams New Trailer youtu.be

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Ballet Stars

Diana Vishneva has had a very big year. In 2017, she retired from American Ballet Theatre, performing Onegin with the company one last time, accompanied by her longtime partner Marcelo Gomes. Then, in September, she opened a ballet studio in her home city of St. Petersburg called CONTEXT Pro. Soon after, she marked the fifth edition of her festival of contemporary dance, CONTEXT, with two weeks of performances, workshops and talks in Moscow and St. Petersburg. But the biggest event came several months later, with the birth of her first child. (As she points out with some satisfaction, the timing was perfect—she didn't have to cancel a single engagement.)

The pregnancy allowed Vishneva to step back from an international career that has kept her constantly on the move for the better part of the last two decades. The ballet world receded from her consciousness, but not for long. We spoke in New York, where she resides part of the year, just as she was gearing up for the first of a series of performances and projects. The day after our chat, her son would turn 100 days old.

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Ballet Stars
Courtesy Retribution Media

Marcelo Gomes' clean technique, skilled partnering and magnetic stage presence make him one of the world's most versatile and in-demand male dancers of his generation. This year saw the principal dancer celebrate his 20th anniversary with American Ballet Theatre, a company he joined at just 17 years old. Coinciding with this milestone was the release of the feature length documentary Anatomy of a Male Ballet Dancer, created by the two-man team David Barba and James Pellerito—who actually approached Gomes via Facebook. The documentary, which was seven years in the making, has been making the film-festival circuit this year, most recently August 6 at the Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival.

The film combines intimate interviews with backstage and rehearsal footage and archival video. It focuses on Gomes' skill and prowess as a partner and includes interviews with some of the world's top ballerinas including Diana Vishneva, Polina Semionova and Misty Copeland.

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Viral Videos

Diana Vishneva gave her final performance with American Ballet Theatre last month after 12 years as a principal. The Russian ballerina made her first appearance with ABT even earlier as a guest artist in 2003. In this video of Aurora's Act III variation from the same year, it's easy to see why Vishneva was in demand all over the world.

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Ballet Stars

Last fall, Diana Vishneva shocked her NYC following when she announced that she would give her final performance with American Ballet Theatre on June 23, 2017. The Russian-born dancer has been part of ABT since performing in Romeo and Juliet as a guest artist in 2003, and has held the title of principal dancer with the company since 2005 in addition to her principal role with the Mariinksy Ballet. Throughout her time with ABT, which she spoke about in the below video for The New Yorker, Vishneva has danced as a guest artist with Bolshoi Ballet, Paris Opera Ballet and Berlin State Ballet.


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Paintings infrequently inspire ballets. Notable exceptions include Yuri Possokhov's Magrittomania, based on the works of surrealist painter René Magritte, and Christopher Wheeldon's recent Strapless, centered on the woman in John Singer Sargent's painting “Madame X." Different though Magritte and Sargent's paintings are, they both depict people in one way or another—ready material for choreographers. Thus, I'm intrigued by Mauro Bigonzetti's ballet Kazimir's Colors, inspired by Kazimir Malevich's abstract, colorful blocks.

Loosely inspired, I'd say. Diana Vishneva and Vladimir Malakhov are anything but blocky in this 2009 clip. Pliant as putty, she snakes her limbs around her partner, who is sturdy but equally fluid. The piece and Kazimir's paintings do share similarities in their colors, of course, but also in the strength of their off-kilter lines. Vishneva's gorgeous extensions conjure the art's sharp angles. And, like the geometric shapes, the pair's movements are at times thin and reedy and at others wide and bold.

Whereas Bigonzetti recently joined a venerable ballet institution (he's La Scala Ballet's new artistic director), Vishneva will soon leave one of hers. The 2016/2017 season at American Ballet Theatre will be her last, though she will stay on as a principal at the Mariinsky Ballet. Vladimir Malakhov, whose career took him to Vienna, Berlin and beyond, also danced with ABT. He has served as artistic advisor to the Tokyo Ballet and recently produced his show, Malakhov & Friends, in Germany. Happy #ThrowbackThursday!

Photo by Nikolay Krusser

As one of the foremost classical ballerinas of her generation, Diana Vishneva has captivated audiences with her magnetic stage presence and pristine technique. In a move that's sure to disappoint fans on this side of the Atlantic, she recently announced that she'll give her final performances with American Ballet Theatre on June 19 and 23, 2017, as Tatiana in Onegin. She'll dance with long-time partner, ABT principal Marcelo Gomes. Luckily for Russia, Vishneva will continue as a principal at the Mariinsky.

The first time I was able to see Vishneva dance live was in the summer of 2009, when I secured a student rush ticket to see Frederick Ashton's Sylvia at ABT. Even though I was sitting so high up I could literally touch the opera house ceiling, I felt lucky to see her in that ballet with its wildly differing acts.

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Diana Vishneva in Carmen Suite. Photo by Nikolay Krusser courtesy of Theatre of Photography on Facebook.

When she won gold at the Prix de Lausanne in 1994, Diana Vishneva was merely 17 years old. However, it's clear that she was on the dawn of superstardom. Twenty years have brought Vishneva's dancing an artistic depth and maturity that contrasts the almost hyper, youthful energy she exhibits in this 1994 clip of Carmen Suite. Her composure before she enters the stage belies the explosive power she has on it. Embodying the fiery color of her costume, Vishneva's legs and leaps practically crackle every time they leave the floor.

Though she's clearly eager in the firecracker tricks she excels at, Vishneva doesn't neglect the choreography's sultry, simple walks or the subtle hand gestures. She captivates even when her back is turned, a quality that even some experienced dancers lack and one that she's mastered. Compare this peppery Carmen to the rendition Vishneva gave in 2013 at the Mariinsky Ballet. Her bounding zeal has evolved into a more grounded, luscious intensity. The heat is still there, but it smolders rather than flares. Happy #Throwback Thursday!

Some of ballet’s biggest stars have donated signed pointe shoes to raise money for victims of last April’s horrific earthquake in Nepal. The 7.8 magnitude earthquake killed over 9,000 people and left hundreds of thousands homeless. And while the disaster is no longer headline news, survivors are still desperate for help. From August 29 through September 13, Pointes for Nepal, an online campaign organized by Cloud & Victory dancewear, will be selling signed pointe shoes of ballerinas Diana Vishneva, Gillian Murphy, Maria Kochetkova, Isabella Boylston, Joy Womack, Michaela DePrince and more. While prices are steep (between $120 and $450 a pair), all proceeds benefit World Vision International and The Little Bells Promiseland Project, two charities providing aid relief to earthquake victims.

 

This isn’t the first time dancers have come together to support Nepal. In June, the DRI Foundation hosted Dance for Nepal, a sold-out benefit that included performances by former American Ballet Theatre dancers Maxim Beloserkovsky and Irina Dvorovenko, New York City Ballet principals Sterling Hyltin and Amar Ramasar, and dancers from Martha Graham Dance Company, Paul Taylor’s American Modern Dance Company and more. The benefit raised $21,000 for the DRI Foundation Nepal Relief Fund.

Ballet mistress Irina Kolpakova rehearses Diana Vishneva and Marcelo Gomes. Photo by Kyle Froman for Pointe.

It's two weeks before the March world premiere of American Ballet Theatre's The Sleeping Beauty at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa, California, and principals Diana Vishneva and Marcelo Gomes are hard at work. As the couple begins Princess Aurora and Prince Désiré's Act III wedding pas de deux, they exude a rediscovered sense of classicism that seems strangely exotic. Instead of six o'clock penchées and indulgent développés, Vishneva luxuriates in a world of arabesques allongées, modest extensions, lowered passés and softened ports de bras. But rather than appear antiquated, these stylistic inflections further accentuate what is going on above the waist—the engaging relationship between Aurora and her prince.

ABT's new Sleeping Beauty, a labor of love spearheaded by artist in residence Alexei Ratmansky and co-produced by La Scala in Milan, stands to be the crowning glory of ABT's 75th-anniversary season. “Of all the great full-lengths, The Sleeping Beauty stands as a perfect symbol of classical ballet," says artistic director Kevin McKenzie. “I wanted a production that we could call our own, and Alexei delivered it. It's a perfect anniversary gift."

Gillian Murphy with her partner, James Whiteside. Photo by Kyle Froman for Pointe.

"I try to bring myself to every moment in the ballet, my own understanding about trusting that all is good in the world: going from Aurora's slightly shy but joyous nature in the beginning to expressing a more serene quality in the second act to awakening back into the world again to meet her soul mate." –Gillian Murphy

What makes this version especially distinct is Ratmansky's commitment to restoring Marius Petipa's original choreography, which premiered in St. Petersburg in 1890. A team of régisseurs at the Mariinsky Ballet, using the Stepanov dance notation system, codified The Sleeping Beauty on paper in 1905. The documents were later smuggled out of Russia during the 1917 Russian Revolution; they are now housed at the Sergeyev Collection at Harvard University. Ratmansky and his wife, Tatiana, both of whom learned to read Stepanov notation, referenced this score as well as photographs and other documents to painstakingly reconstruct Petipa's original intention.

"It's fascinating to explore what we can piece together about the historical style and Petipa's choreography," says ABT principal Gillian Murphy, who is also dancing Aurora. "It looks easier because there are lower legs and more demi-pointe, but it actually feels more difficult because you're constantly restraining yourself. It takes extra energy to sort of put the breaks on."

Murphy notes that, for her, Aurora is one of the hardest roles in the classical repertoire because of the stamina and technical clarity it demands. "Sometimes the simplicity and purity of ballet can be the most difficult thing to accomplish and to make exciting," she says.

For principal Paloma Herrera, who performed as Aurora in March (before her May 27 retirement), that is precisely why the rehearsal process is so integral. "You have the technique inside you so that you can be free onstage, especially in a ballet like this," she says. "It's a fairy tale—complete magic."

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