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Courtesy Joseph Gatti

Class, rehearse, perform, repeat—a typical day at a ballet company follows the same routine week after week. It's a relentless cycle that Joseph Gatti, a former principal with Cincinnati Ballet and Corella Ballet and first soloist with Boston Ballet, thinks has a negative impact on professional dancers' longevity and performance quality. Now, Gatti—who has had an extensive international freelance career in recent years— is founding his own company in Orlando with a distinct focus on maintaining dancer health and wellness. Called United Ballet Theatre, the company will treat its dancers as athletes, building time within the workday for cross-training and personalized medical care, and alternating days of rehearsal intensity.

Gatti plans to start small as he builds support. For now, the company will employ between 8–10 dancers (including Gatti), as well as a handful of world-renowned guest artists. UBT will also operate during the summer months. "It's mainly for dancers on layoff who want to continue dancing, so that they can get consistent pay and work with great teachers and physical therapists," says Gatti. Artistic staff includes Vadim Fedotov, Irina Depler, Stanislav Fečo, Orlando Molina and Lasha Khozashvili. Repertoire and performance dates are yet to be confirmed, although Gatti hopes to bring in new contemporary works and condensed full-lengths, like Fedotov's Romeo and Juliet.



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As Hurricane Irma made its way through the Caribbean last week, Sarasota Ballet principal Ellen Overstreet was closely following the news. Tracking its progress, she made plans with fellow company members Asia Bui and Madysen Felber: "Wednesday was the most stressful day. We went to five different grocery stores. There was no gas; there was no water. Our plan was to stock up one of our apartments and sleep over all together."

By Friday night, however, the storm had shifted west, its radius enveloping Sarasota and prompting many company members (those who hadn't already booked flights out) to evacuate. In a last-minute decision, Overstreet, Bui and Felber packed up a car and drove to Tampa, where they spent the night safely. Yet the storm progressed, and in another night flight they headed for Orlando to stay with Overstreet's friend's family. The central Floridian city saw flooding damage, downed awnings, and power outages like much of the state, but Overstreet says that she was in "a strong house and felt secure" while hunkering down to wait out the storm.

Few things are more terrifying than the prospect of 170+ mile per hour winds literally chasing you upstate. But the anticipation for Irma intensified sharply in Hurricane Harvey's aftermath. Last week, we reported that the Houston Ballet Center for Dance and its home theater sustained serious flooding damage. The company's first program has been postponed, to be performed at a later date in a back-up venue.

We checked in with some of Florida's ballet companies to see how they weathered this most recent storm.

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