Photo by Gabriel Davalos, Courtesy Valdés
For decades the name Alicia Alonso has been virtually synonymous with Ballet Nacional de Cuba, the company she co-founded in Havana in 1948. Alonso died on October 17, just shy of what would have been her 99th birthday. In recent years, she had stepped back from day-to-day decision-making in the company. As if preparing for the future, in January, the company's leading ballerina, 42-year-old Viengsay Valdés, was named deputy director, a job that seems to encompass most of the responsibilities of a traditional director. Now, presumably, she will step into her new role as director of the company. Her debut as curator of the repertory comes in November, when the troupe will perform three mixed bills selected by her at the Gran Teatro de la Habana Alicia Alonso. The following has been translated from a conversation conducted in Spanish, Valdés' native tongue.
Herman Cornejo in Don Quixote. Gene Schiavone, Courtesy ABT.
American Ballet Theatre's fall season at Lincoln Center's Koch Theater offers a chance to see the company in shorter works and mixed-repertoire programs. This year's October 16–27 run honors principal Herman Cornejo, who's celebrating his 20th anniversary with the company. Cornejo will be featured in a special celebratory program as well as a new work by Twyla Tharp (her 17th for the company), set to Johannes Brahms' String Quartet No. 2 in G Major, Op. 111. The October 26 program will include Cornejo in a pas de deux with his sister, former ABT dancer Erica Cornejo.
Jon Ragel, Courtesy Co-Lab Dance
When American Ballet Theatre corps member Lauren Post started up her summer company, Co-Lab Dance, last year, she was looking for a way for her and her colleagues to keep dancing through ABT's two-month layoff. "The Met season ends and we're all in such great shape," says Post. With the help and encouragement of her mentor, she was able to raise enough money to produce her first season last September.
Those performances were a big success, with sold-out shows and a waiting list for tickets. Now, as Co-Lab Dance prepares to open its second season, Post has expanded on her early momentum with a residency and performance at Kaatsbaan International Arts Center and a bigger theater for the company's New York City shows September 6-7. It's a lot to plan—and was made all the more complicated when Post learned that she was due to have a baby two weeks before opening night. (She gave birth earlier than expected, on August 6, to a beautiful baby girl.)
From left: Duncan McIlwaine and Joseph Markey rehearse a new work by Gemma Bond. Rachel Papo.
The members of ABT Studio Company straddle two worlds: student and professional. On a March afternoon, as the dancers rehearse for a work choreographed by ABT dancer Gemma Bond, they appear more the former: Clean academic leotards and tights reveal coltish legs. But as soon as they launch into the piece (which later had its New York City debut at The Joyce Theater), it's evident how close these dancers are to a professional rank. Their movements and expressiveness grow bolder with each entrance. Soon they're sliding to the ground in floorwork and swirling confidently in daring lifts. "This group is particularly brilliant to work with," says Bond. "Each dancer seems to have something interesting in the way that they move, which made the creation process a little more of a collaboration than some of my other works."
Jul. 09, 2019 09:15AM EST
From left: ABT's Alexandra Basmagy, Lauren Post and Gillian Murphy. Photo by April Giangeruso, courtesy ABT.
On the last day of America Ballet Theatre's 2018 tour of The Nutcracker in Costa Mesa, California, corps member Alexandra Basmagy couldn't hold it in any longer. She broke the news to fellow corps members Gemma Bond and Lauren Post that she and her husband are expecting a little boy in August.
Basmagy was not the first ABT dancer to announce her pregnancy this season—principal Gillian Murphy revealed in December that she and her husband Ethan Stiefel were expecting a boy—nor would she be the last. Post's own announcement soon followed! Artistic director Kevin McKenzie burst out laughing when she told him the news, Post says. "He was like, 'It always happens in threes. Since Gillian told me and then Alex, I've been waiting for the last shoe to drop.'"
There is a veritable baby boom at ABT—Gemma Bond, corps member Alexei Agoudine, soloist Luciana Paris and soloist Thomas Forster are all new parents, and Murphy gave birth to her son, Ax Nathaniel, last month. Basmagy and Post are both in their third trimesters, with due dates on August 5th and August 19, respectively. Pointe interviewed these two moms-to-be, and then caught up with Forster and Paris, to learn how they navigate pregnancy and parenthood alongside a ballet career.
Gemma Bond in the studio with ABT's Cassandra Trenary. Jim Lafferty.
If, like us, you're already mourning the end of American Ballet Theatre's marathon Met season, don't fear. The company just announced the lineup for its fall season, and there's a lot to look forward to.
Running October 16-27 at Lincoln Center's David H. Koch Theater, ABT's fall lineup includes world premieres by choreographers Twyla Tharp and Gemma Bond. While Tharp has been creating for ABT since 1976 (the company's Met season included a trio of her works), corps dancer Gemma Bond will be making her choreographic debut for ABT's main company. The season also shines a spotlight on principal Herman Cornejo, who will be celebrating his 20th anniversary with the company.
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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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.
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.
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.
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."