Salenko in "Sleeping Beauty." Photo by Yan Revazov, Courtesy Staatsballett Berlin.

Staatsballett Berlin's Iana Salenko on guestings, salsa music and her knack for design.

What are you most proud of in your career?

I'm a tiny dancer, so to dance roles for tall ballerinas I would never have dreamed about, like Swan Lake—I'm very proud that I managed to get them.

What's the hardest thing about guesting with other companies, like The Royal Ballet?

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Spigner in company class while on tour in New York City. "Culturally, how the dancers here think and work is very different from the West. You learn to respect that and take a little bit for yourself." —Jonathan Spigner

Photos by Kyle Froman for Pointe

As Hong Kong Ballet corps member Xia Jun rehearses his solo from Krzysztof Pastor's In Light and Shadow, a distinct Eastern flavor of movement exudes from the suppleness of his port de bras and the articulation of his à la seconde extension. The ballet master calls out corrections in Mandarin, and Swedish-born artistic director Madeleine Onne offers critiques in English.

The company, just hours away from its March debut at The Joyce Theater in New York City, is a reflection of the international diversity found in the cosmopolitan city of Hong Kong. In addition to full-length classical ballets, Onne—who was the artistic director of the Royal Swedish Ballet prior to heading Hong Kong Ballet—has brought in more Balanchine repertoire and contemporary works from Europe, as well as new commissions by Chinese choreographers. From its repertoire to its roster, Hong Kong Ballet is a mix of East and West. “The majority of the company is Chinese," says Onne, “but I like to spice it up with Western dancers, too."

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Via Pixabay

Ever dreamed of dancing your way through Europe? Of discovering new companies and wandering the streets of historic cities? For Kelsey Coventry, an American dancer with Leipziger Ballett in Leipzig, Germany, moving abroad was the perfect next step. “I thought that I would try to spread my wings a little further," she says.

Europe also comes with another lure: lengthy, stable contracts with good benefits. “Since I work for an opera house here, and we're government funded, I'm considered a government employee," says Coventry. “We're paid 13 months out of the year, with a 2-month vacation. It's a pretty good deal."
But before you get the job, you need to audition. If you've never traveled abroad, planning a European audition tour can seem daunting. But with advance planning and the right blend of organization and flexibility, it can be an easier and more affordable experience than you think.

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