Ballet Stars
Maria Kowroski and Stella Abera. Courtesy Abrera.

While both based in New York City, American Ballet Theatre and New York City Ballet are very different companies, from their touring schedules to their repertoire and training styles. Nevertheless, two principals—ABT's Stella Abrera and NYCB's Maria Kowroski—have sustained a long-lasting friendship "across the plaza" of Lincoln Center. Both Abrera and Kowroski entered their respective companies in the mid-1990s at age 17, and their careers have run side by side ever since.

Tonight, for the first time ever, these two primas, joined by their colleagues Isabella Boylston and Unity Phelan, will perform together in a new work by Gemma Bond titled Marie Thérèse, presented as part of the annual Dance Against Cancer benefit concert. We caught up with Abrera and Kowroski after a recent rehearsal with Bond to hear what it's like to finally dance together, how they've seen the ballet world change throughout the years, and what advice they'd give to their younger selves.

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Ballet Stars
James Whiteside and Isabella Boylston. Courtesy In the Lights PR.

"Cindies" fans, this one's for you. February 9-10, American Ballet Theatre's James Whiteside and Isabella Boylston are collaborating with pop singer Rozzi to put on a full-length show titled When I Think Of You at The Argyros Performing Arts Center in Ketchum, Idaho. Set to Rozzi's debut album Bad Together, performed live by the singer and her band, the show features choreography by Whiteside, Boylston, ABT's Gemma Bond and commercial dancer Ai Shimatsu with dancing by Whiteside, Boylston and ABT soloist Calvin Royal III.

Whiteside is no stranger to pop music. The principal dancer doubles as singer/songwriter JbDubs, known for choreographing and producing his own wild music videos and performances. We touched base with Whiteside to hear all about how When I Think of You came to be, what this unique show will look like, and how he balances his musical career with his work at ABT.

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News
Los Angeles Ballet's Tigran Sargsyan and Petra Conti. LAB opens their fall season this week with a mixed bill including two company premieres. Photo by Reed Hutchinson, Courtesy LAB.

Fall for Dance FestivalWonder what's going on in ballet this week? We've pulled together some highlights.

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News
Boston Ballet's Misa Kuranaga and Nelson Madrigal in John Cranko's "Romeo and Juliet." Photo by Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy Boston Ballet.

From celebrations of Jerome Robbins' centennial to exciting premieres to old classics, this week is jam packed with ballet. We rounded up highlights from eight companies to give you a sense of what's happening onstage this week.


The Washington Ballet

On March 14, The Washington Ballet will present a triptych of new works. Gemma Bond's premiere ties-in to Women's History Month, and she discusses the connection in this video. Also on the bill are creations by celebrated dancers Clifton Brown and Marcelo Gomes. For video teasers of their works, click here.

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Ballet Stars
Clifton Brown. Photo by Andrew Eccles, Courtesy Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

On March 14, The Washington Ballet will present a triptych of new works by Marcelo Gomes, Gemma Bond and Clifton Brown. "What I found really interesting with these three is that they're all still performers," says TWB artistic director Julie Kent. "They serve both as muse and as creator."

Though Gomes and Bond share the same American Ballet Theatre genesis as Kent, Brown is best known for his many years with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and choreographers Lar Lubovitch and Jessica Lang. Kent and Brown met many years ago while working on a duet by Lang. "I knew that he was interested in choreography," says Kent. "And one of my responsibilities as director is to develop young talent."


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News
BalletMet's world premiere of Edwaard Liang's "Giselle" opens this weekend. Photo by Jennifer Zumda, Courtesy BalletMet.

This weekend features two romantic ballets right on time for Valentine's Day, a mixed repertory program by New York Theatre Ballet including a work by Gemma Bond and plenty of Olympic figure skating featuring our favorite former dancer, Nathan Chen.


Ballet West presents Sir Frederic Ashton's Cinderella, opening on February 9, 2018 and running through the 25 at the Capitol Theatre in Salt Lake City, UT. This timeless retelling of the classic fairytale promises lots of sparkly tutus and magical sets. We love this short video promo featuring real-life couple Beckanne Sisk and Chase O'Connell. Tickets can be purchased here.



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Ballet Stars
Dancers at Ballet Sun Valley marvel at the eclipse. Photo by Gemma Bond via Instagram.

Unless you've been living under a rock, chances are that you experienced the eclipse-mania that took over the country yesterday. Thousands flocked to the 70-mile-wide path of totality (the path of the moon's shadow), which stretched from Oregon to South Carolina. And dancers were no exception. Ballet stars across the country flooded Instagram with their sense of awe over this once-in-a-decade event.

Dancers at Ballet Sun Valley, the two-day festival starting today curated by Isabella Boylston, were lucky enough to be on the path of totality (in fact, Gemma Bond's new ballet for the festival was inspired by the eclipse). We love seeing dancers from different companies hanging out, and Tiler Peck posted this New York City Ballet/American Ballet Theatre crossover moment.

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Call Board
Boylston working with choreographer Gemma Bond

With most of American Ballet Theatre's classical repertoire under her belt, principal Isabella Boylston is ready for a new challenge, specifically, launching Ballet Sun Valley, a dance festival with educational outreach in her hometown of Sun Valley, Idaho. "I'm in a place in my career where I can expend a little more creative energy on outside projects," she says. This year, her long-held dream will become reality, with performances on August 22 and 24, and free dance classes on August 23. "Sun Valley has a successful symphony, and a lot of people are interested in the arts," Boylston says. "When I was there three years ago, I realized the Sun Valley Pavilion would be the perfect venue for dance." Hilarie Neely, Boylston's first ballet teacher, put her in touch with a team of executive producers who have assisted with fundraising and technical logistics.

Once Boylston knew the festival was happening, she was faced with the task of creating dynamic programming. "All the dancers I'm inviting are close friends who I've danced with before, and choreographers I have relationships with," she says. Audiences can expect classical repertoire, plus ballets by Justin Peck, Alexei Ratmansky and Pontus Lidberg.

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Ballet Stars
Miriam Miller as Titania in A Midsummer Night's Dream. Photo by Paul Kolnik, Courtesy New York City Ballet.

Each year, the Princess Grace Foundation honors an extraordinary group of artists. This year, ballet got a major nod. Six of the eight winners in the dance performance and choreography category are ballet-related. (The other two are Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's Jacquelin Harris and downtown dance-theater choreographer Raja Feather Kelly.) While you already know some of these names, we're excited to follow the careers of newcomers, like current Juilliard dance major Mikaela Kelly. Past Princess Grace Award winners include the likes of Carlos Acosta, Gillian Murphy and Tiler Peck, so they're in exceptional company.

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Views
Crystal Pite working with members of the Paris Opéra Ballet. Photo by Julien Benhamou.

In February, I attended the Prix de Lausanne, where I moderated a series of panel discussions that were open to the competing students, their teachers and parents, and the public. One topic I was particularly excited about concerned women in leadership roles, and how the ballet world can better nurture leadership qualities in female dancers. My panelists included Korean National Ballet artistic director Sue Jin Kang, English National Ballet associate director Loipa Araújo and Gigi Hyatt, the deputy director of the Hamburg Ballet School.

There was just one problem—while there were plenty of audience members, none of the female students actually showed up. As I watched a few of them browse the pop-up ballet shop on their way out of the theater, I couldn't help but think “Don't you know this talk is for you?"

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Views
Photo by Jim Lafferty

On top of dancing in American Ballet Theatre's corps, Gemma Bond is a budding dancemaker. (Last year, we featured her as one of three rising female choreographers.) Now, she's gathered some fellow ABT dancers for her first full evening of work, Gemma Bond Dance: HARVEST. Catch it Feb. 4-6 at Danspace Project in NYC. For Pointe's bi-weekly newsletter, we spoke with Bond about the program.

How did HARVEST come about?
Originally, the dancers and I just wanted to develop our individual skills. Some wanted to work with a choreographer more, and I wanted to create more. During ABT's layoffs, generally the principals can work with other companies, but there aren't as many opportunities for the corps.
What's the most challenging part of producing your own program?
Being in The Royal Ballet and now with ABT, I never saw that side of preparation. From stage management to how to lay the floor to which floor is best--all those tiny details. And when you're in a small space, like I am, there's nobody producing you. But it's amazing. I've learned a lot.
Where do you find inspiration for your choreography?
I always start with the music and how I feel about it. I have this very famous piece on the program by Liszt, and I know people are going to recognize it. But this is how I see the music. Normally my work is about human relationships, whether it's with your friends or with colleagues from work.
Any advice for ballet dancers interested in choreographing?
It's just practice. The more hours I get in, the more I learn and the less anxious I feel. Try to listen to different genres of music because it pushes you. At first, I thought that wanting to express myself by setting steps to music was part of being a dancer. But when I learned some structural things about choreographing, it really helped me understand why I liked it.
Ballet Stars
Gemma Bond, an ABT corps member, prefers choreographic opportunities over starring roles. Photo by Jim Lafferty for Pointe.

If you've been keeping up on developments in the ballet world, you've probably had cause to ask: Where are the female choreographers?

“I get asked to do interviews a lot because of that question," says Emery LeCrone, a freelance choreographer and dancer based in New York City, “instead of just to talk about my work."

The skewed ratio of male to female ballet choreographers has long been established, inspiring countless distraught—and necessary—conversations and articles (including in this magazine). The reasons for this imbalance—why more men than women are making work at top companies like New York City Ballet and American Ballet Theatre—run deep, rooted in an ethos of conformity that follows female dancers from their first ballet class to the white acts of Swan Lake. Men, being a rarer breed in ballet, tend to get more specialized treatment from a young age. And at the professional level, women often rehearse longer hours (think of all the story ballets with multiple scenes for the female corps), giving them less time, energy and mental space to make their own work.

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