A young Robbie Fairchild, posing for a tap number. Courtesy Fairchild.

When you hear names like Maria Kochetkova, Sutton Foster and Robbie Fairchild, you immediately picture flashes of them as the fully-formed, phenomenal performers they are today.

But even when they were kids, they had a glimmer of their future star power, giving a glimpse of what was to come. Thankfully for Instagram, we've got the pictures and home videos to prove it.

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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.

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Ballet Stars
Karina González in "Romeo and Juliet" choreographed by Stanton Welch. Photo by Amitava Sarkar, Courtesy of Houston Ballet.

As told to Julie Diana

Juliet is one of my favorite roles—you go through every emotion in just three acts. I had done different versions of the ballet before, but it was an amazing opportunity when my director Stanton Welch created the role for me. I watched a lot of videos to prepare and struggled at the beginning because I was trying to copy what other ballerinas had done. It took me a while to find my own way. But now, every step comes from deep inside.

I love that Juliet starts as an innocent little girl, playing with the nurse like she's her best friend. When she goes to the ball, she sees this person that moves her world around. I'm married now, and know what it means to give everything to someone and make decisions that will change your life. And because of the love you have for that person, it is worth it.

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Ballet Careers

Between book deals and Under Armour endorsements, her own Barbie doll and a spot at the judges table on NBC's "World of Dance," Misty Copeland has been one of the few ballerinas to break into mainstream pop culture. Now she's conquering the world of cosmetics. Yesterday, Esteé Lauder announced that Copeland is the new spokesmodel for its fragrance, Modern Muse. The name seems fitting, given how her journey to becoming American Ballet Theatre's first black principal woman has inspired so many. She'll front the fragrance's campaign across digital, print, in-store and television advertisements.

The dancer-as-brand-ambassador theme is catching on. Back in ballet's glory days, Suzanne Farrell was the face of L'Air du Temps perfume, while Mikhail Baryshnikov attached his name to not one, but two colognes. After a prolonged dry spell, we're happy to see dancers receiving mainstream visibility again as more companies book them to represent their brands. Here are just a few recent examples:

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Jacquelyn Long, Photo by Amitava Sarkar, Courtesy Houston Ballet.

From June 24–July 10, Houston Ballet is embarking on its biggest tour yet to Melbourne, Australia, hometown of artistic director Stanton Welch. Pointe asked demi-soloist Jacquelyn Long to keep a diary of her experiences.

Friday, June 24, 2016

I'm so excited to be guest blogging for Pointe to give you a behind the scenes look at tour life! A bit about your blogger: I was born in Cleveland, Ohio (go Cavs!) and lived most of my life in Virginia Beach, Virginia. I joined Houston Ballet’s second company in 2010, and became a corps de ballet member in 2012. In May, I was promoted to demi soloist. My favorite pastime is probably a good Netflix binge or playing with my Pomeranian.

"Looking natural at the airport..." Photo by Long.

The company is touring Stanton Welch’s Romeo and Juliet to Melbourne, Australia! The story is beautiful and one of my favorites. Our production premiered in February, 2015 in Houston. It has been fun to revisit the ballet and I think we are all anxious to see what the Aussies think.

Right now we’re in Los Angeles LAX Airport! After a three and a half hour flight from Houston, I'm anxious for what the 17-hour flight to Melbourne will feel like. My ankles already feel swollen, which is the worst part about flying as a dancer. Some of my colleagues are wearing compression socks to help reduce the swelling, and I would say tennis shoes are everyone’s favorite pick for footwear. My boyfriend and I each bought a new pair of Nikes earlier today— with all the walking that comes with traveling, comfy shoes are essential!

This trip comes with some bittersweet feelings, as some of our dancers will be retiring afterwards. Rupert Edwards, pictured here with his beautiful wife Karina González, will be continuing his studies of kinesiology after the tour.

Photo by Chunwai Chan, Courtesy Long.

Now off to find some food. More to come!



For more news on all things ballet, don't miss a single issue.

Olga Smirnova

Expectations can be a heavy burden to bear for a young dancer on the fast track to stardom. Few have justified the hype like the Bolshoi Ballet's 21-year-old Olga Smirnova. The Vaganova-trained first soloist had an international coming out party to remember in London this summer. Her performances in La Bayadère and Swan Lake were the talk of critics and audiences alike, and stepping out on the Covent Garden stage in Balanchine's "Diamonds," Smirnova announced herself as a ballerina of rare natural talent. Tall and expansive, she exudes the old-fashioned, slightly reticent glamour of a balletic Greta Garbo. She made the role her own, combining an aura of regal mystery with instinctive musicality and épaulement. Partnered by the seemingly awed Semyon Chudin, she danced the pas de deux and the faster third and fourth movements with a purity beyond her years. Russian ballet has found itself a new queen. —Laura Cappelle

Karina González
Karina González has always been a powerhouse in contemporary work. But in Houston Ballet's La Bayadère last season, she proved her mettle in ballet blanc. Her performance brought home why we go to these vintage ballets over and over: to see what a particular dancer can do with a classic role. As Nikiya, González exemplified all that is light and fragile, with a port de bras that was at once fluid and precise. The delicacy of her dancing served as a counterpoint to La Bayadère's excesses. It pulled this old warhorse out of the past, making the ballet's storytelling feel fresh once again. Artistic director Stanton Welch must have thought so too, because he promoted her to principal on opening night. —Nancy Wozny

James Whiteside
It took a while for New York to get to know James Whiteside. The American Ballet Theatre principal, who joined the company as a soloist in September 2012, spent much of last season giving polished but cautiously polite performances.

Then he was cast as Don Quixote matador Espada during ABT's Metropolitan Opera House season.

Maybe Whiteside was finally able to shrug off his Met stage nerves. Maybe he had just settled into his ABT groove. Whatever the reason, Espada marked the first time Whiteside registered on the New York ballet world's Richter scale. Though choreographically slight, the part has the potential to be deliciously hammy, and Whiteside made the most of every hair-tossing, cape-twirling moment, finishing each assemblé with an imperious thrust of his chin. Forget polite: Gleefully, unabashedly flamboyant, Whiteside transformed what is sometimes a ho-hum secondary role into a work of high camp. (Fans of his pop-music alter ego, JbDubs, might not have been surprised.) —Margaret Fuhrer

Jon Bond

Jon Bond first made waves at Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet in 2007 with a muscular, undulating street-based style. His roots in competition dance and work in music videos gave his movements a pop-culture sheen. Yet after six years working with Cedar Lake's rotating roster of world-class choreographers, Bond has matured beautifully. An underlying grace now weaves itself into his physical ferocity. When he took the stage at the Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival this summer in the opening beats of Crystal Pite's Grace Engine, his clipped shuffle felt watchful, weighted—above all, controlled. At times, his solos seemed modest and tense; elsewhere, his reactions were explosive. Yet his movement was specific throughout: He's become lighter on his feet, and utterly mesmerizing. —Rachel F. Elson

The Cast of Soirée Musicale
New York City Ballet is known for giving even its greenest talents big opportunities—and for a young NYCB dancer, getting a featured role in a gala performance is equivalent to being anointed a future star. This year, the company's spring gala marked the arrival of the whole cast of Christopher Wheeldon's Soirée Musicale. Nearly all of the work's 10 featured dancers were either new to the company (Indiana Woodward, Peter Walker, Harrison Ball) or newly promoted (Lauren Lovette, Chase Finlay, Taylor Stanley, Brittany Pollack); all of them were very young. But they gave the kinds of full, well-considered performances usually associated with seasoned veterans. Leading the remarkable ensemble were Lovette and Finlay, who closed the ballet with a new pas de deux, tailored to them by Wheeldon. It was a grown-up duet—glamorous, poignant, achingly romantic—and we watched the two of them become adults onstage. —Margaret Fuhrer

Jermel Johnson

Audiences have long adored Jermel Johnson for his power and precision in Pennsylvania Ballet's more virtuosic repertoire. But who knew that just below the surface was a sophisticated elegance waiting to come out in more subtle roles? As Phlegmatic in Balanchine's The Four Temperaments Johnson magnetized not with his terrific jumps, but with the silken unfurling of his limbs, the fleetness of his développés and the refined architectures of his full form. He commanded the stage with a quality that hovered between neutral and ravishingly sensual. Mr. B would have approved. Johnson's swift rise at Pennsylvania Ballet from apprentice (2004) to principal (2012) has been thrilling to witness, and this new maturity has deepened his already compelling artistry. —Lisa Kraus

Evgenia Obraztsova
Bolshoi Ballet principal Evgenia Obraztsova has been a muse for French choreographer Pierre Lacotte since she created his reconstruction of Ondine at the Mariinsky Ballet in 2006. Their creative relationship reached a new milestone with his version of La Sylphide, which Obraztsova, a born Sylph, first performed with Moscow's Stanislavsky Ballet in 2011. Last summer, she was invited to repeat it in the mecca of French ballet: the Paris Opéra. The result was an exquisite, career-defining performance by a rare artist. Obraztsova's command of the intricate French style was effortless; she breezed through Lacotte's ornate footwork and balances with gossamer grace, and imbued this quintessentially French ballet with a distinctly Russian perfume. She was a Romantic dream with a twist: Unlike Bournonville's Sylphide, this creature of the woods is more femme fatale than ingénue, and like James, the Paris audience was bewitched at first sight. —Laura Cappelle

Sarah Cecilia Griffin

Sarah Cecilia Griffin is that rarest of creatures: a true balletic chameleon. She has both impressive classical technique and also the ability to completely let it go. In choreographer Amy Seiwert's SKETCH 3: Expectations showcase this July, Griffin performed pieces by Val Caniparoli, Marc Brew and Seiwert—seamlessly falling to the floor, crawling and climbing, and rising into the arms of ever-changing partners. Yet when the choreography drew from the classical canon, the 27-year-old revealed impeccably honed attitudes, grands jetés and pirouettes. On pointe or in jazz shoes, she brought emotional intensity that was true to the work, as well as a special something that drew your eye over and over, without her trying to get your attention. Her transitions from one extreme to the other appeared effortless, and the effect was simply thrilling. —Claudia Bauer

Sarasota Ballet

In the wrong hands, Sir Frederick Ashton's Les Patineurs can easily devolve into an old-fashioned cliché. There are the matching bonnets, the postcard-pretty set, the dancers pretending to ice skate, the choreographed “falls." But when Sarasota Ballet performed this 1930s one-act at Ballet Across America, there wasn't a speck of dust on it. Under the direction of “Sir Fred" devotee Iain Webb, the dancers of this small Florida troupe have become exquisite interpreters of Ashton's works. In Les Patineurs, they giddily lit up the stage, bringing distinct personalities to each scene without ever becoming saccharine. All of the choreography's gliding, spinning and grinning felt completely natural—and as exciting as if it had been choreographed yesterday. —Jennifer Stahl

Irina Dvorovenko

Glamour and humor are an invincible combination. When American Ballet Theatre principal Irina Dvorovenko glided out of the wings as the diva ballerina Vera Baronova in the Encores! revival of On Your Toes, balletomanes in the audience did a double take. The swan queen extraordinaire had transformed into a slinky vamp with a libido to equal her ego. On Your Toes marked Balanchine's first full Broadway show back in the 1930s; in its famous "Slaughter on Tenth Avenue" climax, the hoofer and the ballerina-turned-stripper literally dance for their lives. Dvorovenko didn't merely triumph in Balanchine's homage to burlesque; she brought a wicked sense of fun to her fishnets. And she handled the show's risqué dialogue with a deadpan delivery that theater veterans would envy. A Broadway star had been born. —Hanna Rubin

Houston Ballet's González in the studio. Photo by Amitava Sarkar, Courtesy Houston Ballet

Houston Ballet's season opener, A Midsummer Night's Dream by John Neumeier (Sept. 4-14), marks many spectacular firsts. Not only is it the company's first Neumeier ballet, but it will be the first production of his Midsummer danced by an American company. For Pointe's biweekly newsletter, we spoke with principal Karina González about learning the role of Titania.

How have rehearsals been going?
They've been amazing. It's my first time working with Neumeier, and I'd been dreaming of working with him for so long. In our first rehearsal with him, he spent almost an hour explaining the characters and the story from beginning to end. But he said that he didn't create the ballet exactly by the book. It was more about the feeling that he had when he watched the play of Midsummer. It's very interesting to work with him because he wants to see both who you are as a dancer and who you are in your character.


How would you describe Neumeier's version of Titania?
He created two very different worlds for her. In the first act she starts as this beautiful queen, very elegant and regal and her steps are balletic and pretty. And then when she falls asleep and enters the magic world of the dream, it's like she becomes a creature. I think she's a little animalistic. In other versions, I feel like you wait for the fairies with glitter and wings, but here she is a creature in a unitard, grounded and powerful.

What has been most challenging part of the process?
I'm the kind of dancer--I'm not sure whether it's good or bad--that first needs to get the steps, the counts, the musicality before I give you feelings and character. Neumeier and the stagers want us to find the character first. In rehearsals, we have an hour to learn a pas de deux, and they tell you the story and the feeling that you need to have. And I'm like, Okay, give me a second to figure it out first, and then I can give you my everything.

What advice would you give to aspiring professionals who are learning a role for the first time?

I always say that you need to be like a sponge in the studio. In this process, I learned that you have to be really patient with yourself--you're going to need time to get the steps. I also like to do a little homework. Go home and repeat the steps in your head, and if you have videos of the ballet, watch them over and over. Then, the next day, it doesn't feel new anymore. You already have it in your body, so you can continue working on new things.


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