Ballet Training
Students from Walnut Hill School for the Arts perform Gerald Arpino's Birthday Variations during the school's anniversary gala at The Joyce Theater. Christopher Duggan, Courtesy Walnut Hill School for the Arts.

If you could ask a professional dancer's advice for starting a ballet career, what would you want to know?

Earlier this month, Walnut Hill School for the Arts celebrated its 125th anniversary with a gala performance of students and alumni at New York City's Joyce Theater. And with graduation on the horizon, we thought it would be fun to arrange a Q&A session between upper level ballet students and the visiting graduates of Walnut Hill School for the Arts, among them San Francisco Ballet principal Joseph Walsh '06, Houston Ballet soloist Harper Watters '10, Ballet Arizona dancer Alison Remmers '12 and former Sacramento Ballet/Twyla Tharp dancer Charlie Hodges '98.

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Ballet Stars
Gabriela Mesa, Fabian Morales and Josue Justiz Brito in Ariel Rose's Esferas. Photo by Simon Soong, Courtesy DDTM.

When Jennifer Kronenberg launched Dimensions Dance Theatre of Miami with husband Carlos Guerra less than two years ago, she never dreamed their fledgling troupe would be performing in two of the country's most famous dance venues so soon.

"It's surreal," said the former Miami City Ballet principal ballerina, as Dimensions prepared to open the Joyce Theater's Ballet Festival June 26 and 27, going on to the Jacob's Pillow's Inside/Out series on June 29. "We're still very new. Some companies have been around forever and never get invited to places like the Joyce and Jacob's Pillow."

Adds Guerra, "We never thought we would reach this level in such a short time. It's been an amazing journey."

They owe their early arrival to two of the qualities that have already made the 16-member ensemble a successful and beloved presence in Miami: strong community connections, and a repertory and roster that reflect this predominantly Latino city.


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News
Jane Cracovaner and Elijah Laurant with MOVETHECOMPANY, which will perform at the Joyce Ballet Festival this week. Photo Craig Foster, Courtesy Joyce Theater.

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


The Joyce Ballet Festival Is Back

New York City's Joyce Theater kicks off its five-company Ballet Festival June 26-July 7. Showcasing a variety of styles including neoclassical and contemporary dance, the festival prides itself on featuring smaller companies. Below, check out the three companies opening this week. (Feeling festive? Enter our giveaway to win tickets to the Ashley Bouder Project at the Joyce on July 5.)

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Ballet Stars
Ashley Wheater rehearsing Antony Tudor's "Lilac Garden." Photo by Cheryl Mann, Courtesy Joffrey Ballet.

The first time Ashley Wheater was courted to be artistic director of the Joffrey Ballet, he said "Thanks, but no thanks"—he was very happy at San Francisco Ballet, where he'd spent eight years as a principal dancer and 10 more on the artistic staff. But a trip to the Windy City for the Chicago Dancing Festival and a visit to Joffrey's studios prompted feelings of nostalgia for Wheater's early years dancing with the company.

He was hired by co-founders Robert Joffrey and Gerald Arpino in 1985, when the company was still based in New York City and under Joffrey's direction. After Joffrey's death, Arpino became artistic director and later moved a struggling Joffrey Ballet to its current home in Chicago in 1995.

When Arpino fell ill and began to look for a successor, the company had lost much of its original adventurous spirit. Remembering its earlier spark, Wheater agreed to apply during that trip to Chicago, and accepted on the spot in 2007 after a weeklong interview process.

As the third artistic director in the company's 62-year history, Wheater has spent the last 10 years rebuilding its national reputation, tackling challenging new repertoire and reimagined classics at a ferocious pace. The rep now includes works by choreographers like Christopher Wheeldon, John Neumeier, Alexander Ekman and Yuri Possokhov. Wheater shelved many of Joffrey's and Arpino's dances to make room for new ones, preferring to honor Robert Joffrey's legacy by taking risks and fostering innovation.


Wheater. Photo by Todd Rosenberg, Courtesy Joffrey Ballet.

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