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Royal Ballet principal Sarah Lamb taking onstage class at The Joyce Theater. Kyle Froman.

New York City's dance scene is having its own "British invasion" right now. The 2019 edition of The Joyce Theater's annual Ballet Festival, taking place now through August 18, is curated by a team from The Royal Ballet, and a small group of company members are in town to perform. (The festival also features special guests from National Ballet of Canada, American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet and New York Theater Ballet.) And while Royal Ballet director Kevin O'Hare had a huge hand in developing the event and planning its first program, he tapped two of his principal dancers—Lauren Cuthbertson and Edward Watson—as well as frequent company designer Jean-Marc Puissant, to curate programs of their own. "Anytime I go to dance events I see them there—they're always interested in what's going on and have such deep knowledge of choreographers," says O'Hare. "I thought they would be up for the challenge."

Most exciting for us, of course, is the chance to see some of The Royal's star dancers. In addition to Watson and Cuthbertson (who are dancing heavily in their own programs), principals Sarah Lamb and Marcelino Sambé (newly promoted, and our April/May cover star) are in town, as well as rising dancers Calvin Richardson, Romany Pajdak and Joseph Sissens. We couldn't pass up the opportunity to see them in action, and last week the company graciously allowed us to sit in on morning class for a Pointe photo exclusive. Check them out below!


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Hannah Fischer and Piotr Stanczyk in Christopher Wheeldon'sThe Winter's Tale. Karolina Kuras, Courtesy NBoC.

The 12th International Competition for The Erik Bruhn Prize will take place in Toronto on November 15. The event, which honors Bruhn's danseur noble legacy, is a pretty accurate predictor of up-and-coming talent. Last year's winners included NBoC second soloist Hannah Fischer, who danced as a first-cast lead in Christopher Wheeldon's The Winter's Tale during NBoC's opening, and recently promoted San Francisco Ballet principal Carlo Di Lanno.

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Hannah Fischer and Piotr Stanczyk in rehearsal for The Winter's Tale. Photo by Aaron Vincent Elkaim, Courtesy NBoC.

 

Ballet lovers, Shakespeare lovers and Christopher Wheeldon lovers, rejoice! The North American premiere of The Winter's Tale is finally here. The National Ballet of Canada performs the acclaimed work now through November 22 in Toronto and in January in Washington, DC. For Pointe's bi-weekly newsletter, we caught up with second soloist Hannah Fischer as she learned the female lead Hermione.

What's it like working with Christopher Wheeldon?

Amazing. He has such a clear vision. The narrative is of utmost importance in The Winter's Tale, and he makes sure that the story is behind every step. He's phenomenal with those things you normally wouldn't think of, like the way he tells me to look into somebody's eyes or how to place my hand. They make a world of difference.

What is particularly challenging about this ballet?

Hermione's solo is quite difficult and it leads into the pas de deux, so from a stamina point of view, that's tricky. But more importantly, I think that carrying a ballet that has such intense emotions is the hardest part. Hermione is a very strong woman. She's pure and innocent and loves her husband and children. And then she's wrongfully accused of adultery, and she pleads her innocence while still maintaining her dignity.

Photo by Aaron Vincent Elkaim, Courtesy NBoC.

What advice would you offer to dancers who are learning narrative ballets? 

A lot of people are advised to leave their problems at the door, but when dealing with a dramatic ballet, I think it's almost better to do the opposite. Don't let it affect you so much that you can't get any work done, but take all the experiences that you want to push away and throw them into your character. I think ballet is fantastic in that way because you can use those emotions to make your performance even better.

Want more Winter's TaleEnter our contest for a pair of pointe shoes signed by NBoC principal Jurgita Dronina, who is also cast as Hermione.

 

From left: Yury Yanowsky, Hannah Fischer and Carlo Di Lanno. Photo by Bruce Zinger, Courtesy NBOC

National Ballet of Canada corps member Hannah Fischer, 20, and San Francisco Ballet soloist Carlo Di Lanno, 22, were announced the winners of the prestigious Erik Bruhn Prize on Tuesday night. Recently retired Boston Ballet principal Yuri Yanowsky won the choreographic prize for his work District.

Five couples and choreographers representing five companies (Boston Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, The Royal Danish Ballet, Hamburg Ballet and NBOC) competed for the award at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts in Toronto. Each pair was selected to compete by their artistic directors and performed a classical pas de deux and variation, as well as a specially commissioned contemporary work. Fischer and Di Lanno each won a cash prize of $7,500; Yanowsky won $2,000. All three also received a sculpture by Jack Culiner.

The late Erik Bruhn, one of the most acclaimed male dancers of the 20th century, willed part of his estate to establish the prize upon his death. Given to one male and one female dancer between the ages of 18 and 23, the award, Bruhn said, reflects “such technical ability, artistic achievement and dedication as I endeavored to bring to dance." The Choreographic prize was added in 2009. If past winners are any indication, Fischer, Di Lanno and Yanowsky have bright futures ahead.

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