Ballet Stars
Kathleen Breen Combes in George Balanchine's Serenade. Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy Boston Ballet.

On Sunday, June 9 Boston Ballet principal Kathleen Breen Combes will take her final bow onstage before stepping behind the curtain into a new role: executive director of the Rhode Island–based Festival Ballet Providence. Originally from Rockville Center, New York, Combes spent three years with The Washington Ballet before joining Boston Ballet in 2003; she was promoted to principal in 2009. For her retirement performance she's dancing Paulo Arrais' ELA, Rhapsody in Blue. "It just happened to be the last thing on the program, but it worked out perfectly," says Combes. "It's me and 15 men, and it's all about female empowerment, so it felt very fitting to go out with that." Below, Combes shares what made Boston Ballet her dream company, how becoming a mother has affected her approach and why she's interested in dance administration.

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News

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

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Everything Nutcracker
Archie crossing the stage with his castmates. Photo Courtesy Festival Ballet Providence.

Every ballet star's stage career must eventually come to an end. This season, Festival Ballet Providence celebrates the retirement of one of its Nutcracker's best loved performers: Archie the dog. This Yorkshire Terrier, owned by FBP artistic director Misha Djuric, has taken the stage in more than 125 performances of FBP's Nutcracker over the past 19 years. Though he'll be missed, it makes sense... after all, in human years, he is nearing his 93rd birthday.

Archie appears in the ballet's first scene, scampering across the stage with the partygoers. "Archie announced that he's settling down to a life of luxury and long naps on pillow," says Djuric in a statement. "He actually never expected to have become so famous and he's very grateful for the fans who have supported him all these years."

Archie prepares for his 100th Nutcracker performance www.youtube.com

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Tiler Peck in Balanchine's "Tchaikovsky Pas De Deux." Photo by Paul Kolnik, Courtesy New York City Ballet.

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


NYCB Spring Season Opens

NYCB's 2018 Spring Season opens on April 24. The next six weeks are filled with all of what NYCB has to offer including classic works by George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins, world premieres by Justin Peck and Warren Carlyle (each paying tribute to Robbins), and the full-length Coppélia. April 24-28 is all Balanchine; audiences can see works including Agon, The Four Temperaments and Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux. April 28 also offers NYCB's 21st Century Choreographers program, which will appear again later in the month, and includes Peter Walkers' dance odyssey, Alexei Ratmansky's Pictures at an Exhibition and Justin Peck's Year of the Rabbit. Below, Tiler Peck discusses what Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux means to her—she'll be dancing the work April 25 with Joaquin De Luz.

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News

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.

 

For more news on all things ballet, don’t miss a single issue.

Like countless other companies, Festival Ballet Providence has hit a rough patch during this recession. But after 33 years as Rhode Island's only professional ballet company, they're not going to go down without a fight. Artistic director Mihailo Djuric gathered dancers from all over to perform in a benefit gala for FBP tonight.

 

New York City Ballet's Ana Sophia Scheller and American Ballet Theatre's Joseph Phillips will dance Grand Pas Classique, Boston Ballet's Misa Kuranaga and Boyko Dossev will present Dossev's Crane, Houston Ballet's Nao Kusuzaki and Simon Ball will dance the Act II pas de deux from Giselle, and Lithuanian National Ballet's Miki Hamanaka and Aurimas Paulauskas will perform te grand pas from Sleeping Beauty.

 

The gala, aptly titled "Together We Dance," will take place tonight at 7 pm at The Vets, 1 Avenue of the Arts in Providence, Rhode Island. Tickets run from $25 to $125. For more, see festivalballet.com/v2/Gala_story.php.

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