News
Katherine Williams has been promoted to soloist. Photo by Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy ABT.

It's that time of year: American Ballet Theatre has just announced promotions, and they're as exciting as ever.

This season, it's all about the ladies: corps de ballet members Zhong-Jing Fang, Catherine Hurlin and Katherine Williams have been promoted to soloist, effective September 1.

Though none of these choices are surprises per se, it's nice to see artistic director Kevin McKenzie acknowledge the hard work of two longtime dancers. Fang has been a striking member of the corps since 2004, known for tackling steps with daredevil abandon and for her humorous side. Williams' bright, reliable presence has lit up the ABT stage since 2008, and her recent debut as Myrtha proved she has the emotional range for roles far beyond the ingénue.

From left: Zang (photo by Jade Young), Williams (photo by Alex DiMattia), Hurlin (photo by Jade Young)

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News
David Hallberg in rehearsal. Photo by Kate Longley, Courtesy The Australian Ballet.

Have you ever dreamt of the chance to choreograph for American Ballet Theatre? Thanks to ABT Incubator, the company's newly launched choreographic initiative directed by company principal (and recent author) David Hallberg, that wish could become a reality this fall. The two-week choreographic lab will run from October 31-November 10 at ABT's New York studios and will give both members of the company and freelance choreographers the chance to create new work on dancers from ABT and the ABT Studio Company. Participants will also have access to crucial dance making tools including a stipend, studio space, collaborators, feedback and mentorship from Hallberg and other artists. They'll present their creations in a private showing on November 10. "It has always been my vision to establish a process-oriented hub to explore the directions ballet can forge now and in the future," said Hallberg in a statement released today. "I am thrilled that Incubator will provide the resources for emerging and established creators to explore movement and new paths in dance."

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Ballet Stars
Devon Teuscher in "Giselle." Photo by Gene Schiavone, Courtesy ABT.

Last July, Devon Teuscher became a principal with American Ballet Theatre. ABT artistic director Kevin McKenzie called her into a meeting and told her, "I think you've done wonderful work—I'd like to promote you." Surprisingly, Teuscher's first thought was, "Are you sure?" Despite having proved herself by climbing the ranks of the company for 10 years, she still felt nervous about her new role. "I had been dreaming about this since I was 8 years old," she says. "But the responsibility that comes with being an ambassador for the company—really, a face of the company—felt like a huge amount of pressure."

Watching her onstage, it's easy to see how the title of principal suits her long lines, elegant strength and crisp technique. Next month she debuts her dream principal role—Juliet in Romeo and Juliet at Metropolitan Opera House.

Keep reading at dance-teacher.com.

Cirio (center) in Marcelo Gomes' "AfterEffect." Photo by Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy ABT.

Well, that was fast. After less than a year, Jeffrey Cirio — the former Boston Ballet principal who joined American Ballet Theatre as a soloist at the start of this season—is walking into summer with a promotion to ABT's highest rank. The company now has two Filipino-American principals, the other being Stella Abrera.

We're not surprised. Twenty-five years old and already a consummate artist, Cirio impressed in roles all season, like Colas in La fille mal gardée, one of the King's unlucky sons in The Golden Cockerel and the virtuosic slave Ali in Le Corsaire. Cirio's ambitions extend beyond the Met stage, too. He's the leader of his own touring troupe, Cirio Collective, which has performances scheduled at the Cape Dance Festival and Vineyard Arts Project this summer.

Artistic director Kevin McKenzie also announced corps member Blaine Hoven's promotion to soloist. These two well deserving male dancers are sure to have a spring in their step this holiday weekend!

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When it comes to gender roles, Le Corsaire is anything but modern. The female characters are passed from pasha to pirate and back again, and they do little else than dance for the men—whether those men are good or evil, lover or foe. (With the ballet's excessively convoluted plot, it's often hard to tell). In “Jardin Animée," the second scene of Act III, Medora, Gulnare and the other enslaved women dance charmingly in the pasha's dream—all smiles, flowers and cotton candy colors. Former American Ballet Theatre principal Paloma Herrera performs Gulnare's variation in this clip from ABT's 1999 PBS special, and her usual power and precision shine through. Just look at her dynamic, buoyant tombés into quick, trilling bourrées; her darting feet in simple jetés and the control she maintains during the ending's dizzying turns. I find myself rewinding every few seconds, just to watch each step's exacting execution.

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