Amitava Sarkar, Courtesy Houston Ballet

Like so many little girls, I grew up watching the "four little swans" dance. It always pops up on your YouTube feed if you're a dancer, so I saw lots of different versions. I figured I fit the type—I'm short and like to do petit allégro—so to do it was definitely on my wish list as a professional.

Because everyone's coordination is different, I knew getting four girls to dance in such perfect unison would take a lot of rehearsal. Our ballet mistress, Louise Lester, had us practice the dance in chunks: First we'd walk through each section to synchronize our head movements and get our timing perfect, and then we'd run each part multiple times for stamina. We'd have hour-long rehearsals for a one-minute dance!

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News
Justin Peck rehearsing his new ballet, Reflections, with Houston Ballet. Lawrence Knox, Courtesy Houston Ballet.

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

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News
Houston Ballet's Karina González and Chun Wai Chan in rehearsal for Jerome Robbins' The Cage. Lawrence Knox, Courtesy Houston Ballet.

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

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News
Artists of Houston Ballet rehearsing Stanton Welch's Sylvia. Amitava Sarkar, Courtesy Houston Ballet.

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

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Ballet Stars
Iijima with Cuhan Wai Chan in Stanton Welch's Just. Photo by Christopher Duggan, Courtesy Houston Ballet.

Houston Ballet first soloist Nozomi Iijima transformed into a Zen goddess in the pas de deux for Stanton Welch's Just, commissioned specially for Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival in August. Partnered by Chun Wai Chan, Iijima moved as if in a dream state, casting a deliciously hypnotic spell. It was as if she was literally pouring her weight from one movement to another. Welch's sculptural choreography brings out her most mesmerizing abilities. Even though the ballet is completely fluid, tension slowly builds to a crescendo until finally we feel the pain of loss that memory holds. Her stoic but powerful performance held the audience captive—it was the kind of dancing that you don't want to exhale during.

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Viral Videos
Natalie Varnum, in red, with Houston Ballet dancers in front of the Dubai Opera House. Photo Courtesy Varnum.

Last week, Houston Ballet toured artistic director Stanton Welch's Swan Lake to Dubai, making it the first American company to ever dance at the Dubai Opera House. Demi soloist Natalie Varnum covered this historic tour for Pointe through a series of vlogs, taking us from the long plane ride to harrowing camel rides to backstage shenanigans to opening night. Settle in and enjoy!

Part 1: Houston Ballet's Tour to Dubai with Natalie Varnum www.youtube.com

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Ballet Stars
Lauren Anderson, via Instagram

It's been quite some time since we've had the pleasure of watching Lauren Anderson do 32 fouettés. The former Houston Ballet star, who became the company's first African American principal dancer in 1990, was famous for her thrilling bravura and for her partnership with Carlos Acosta. Now Houston Ballet's program manager of community engagement and an in-demand master teacher, Anderson, 53, just made a fun announcement on her Instagram page: if Houston Ballet can get enough votes to win at least second place in Aetna's Voices of Health Competition, she says, "I will give you 32 fouettés, right here in this studio—yes I will."

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Trending
San Francisco Ballet in class during World Ballet Day 2016. Photo Courtesy SFB.

Here at Pointe, every day feels like World Ballet Day, though the official 2018 event took place on Tuesday. While WBD is a thrill for any bunhead, it can also be overwhelming. How are you supposed to sit in front of your computer all day when you have class and rehearsal and work and a life? We get it, and we're here to help.

To give you a chance to catch up, we've rounded up WBD videos from 26 companies. So grab some popcorn, a backlog of pointe shoes to sew, and settle in. If you start watching now, you might just be done in time for WBD 2019.

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Ballet Stars
Andrew Vecseri with artists of Houston Ballet in Stanton Welch's Powder. Photo by Amitava Sarkar, Courtesy Houston Ballet.

It's hard not to notice Houston Ballet's Andrew Vecseri. With his strapping good looks, athletic build and confidence, Vecseri has a way of standing out in ensemble work without stealing the show. Whether he's dancing in Sir Kenneth MacMillan's Mayerling or juggling multiple ballets in mixed rep evenings, he comes across as a natural leader onstage. And while he's only in his second full season in the company, he has already started to step out of the corps, taking on a lead divertissement in The Nutcracker.

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News
LINES Ballet's Adji Cissoko in rehearsal for Fury. Photo by Alex Reneff-Olsen, Courtesy Fury.

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

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Just for fun
Lauren Post unwinds by sewing pointe shoes in the tub. Photo via Instagram/@laurencpost

Let's face it. Dancers just do things differently. We can never walk down a grocery aisle—we have to tap. We can never simply pick something up we've dropped—without going into a penché. But it's not a bad thing. We love all the ways that dance bleeds into our daily lives.

Turns out the pros aren't ever really off-duty either. Here's how we caught them dancing through their downtime.

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Just for fun
Lauren Post unwinds by sewing pointe shoes in the tub. Photo via Instagram/@laurencpost

Let's face it. Dancers just do things differently. We can never walk down a grocery aisle—we have to tap. We can never simply pick something up we've dropped—without going into a penché. But it's not a bad thing. We love all the ways that dance bleeds into our daily lives.

Turns out the pros aren't ever really off-duty either. Here's how we caught them dancing through their downtime.

Keep reading... Show less

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