Health & Body
LADP's Rachelle Rafailedes leading a workout. Photo by Studio 6, Courtesy Sunshine Sachs.

If your usual workouts are feeling stale, Benjamin Millepied's L.A. Dance Project might be able to help. The contemporary ballet troupe recently launched an online exercise platform that puts its stars in your living room.

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News
Jeremy McQueen's The Black Iris Project in "Madiba" Photo by Matthew Murphy

Misty Copeland's dancing and Justin Peck's choreography have graced stages around the world. Now, these two stars will test themselves as curators. This year, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, in Washington, DC, features their respective visions as part of the Ballet Across America program, April 17–23.

During the first half of the run, Copeland's picks take the stage, including Nashville Ballet, Complexions Contemporary Ballet and Jeremy McQueen's Black Iris Project. “I chose these companies because it's a chance to give them a level of exposure on the Kennedy Center stage that's typically reserved for larger companies," Copeland says. “They all perform at a high level of excellence and represent a diverse, inclusive cast of dancers." Peck's curation includes Joffrey Ballet, L.A. Dance Project and Abraham.In.Motion—a departure from typical ballet programming. “I tried to emphasize musical choreography," says Peck. Ballet Across America also includes talk-backs with the curators and artistic directors, and two world premiere Kennedy Center commissions: a piece by McQueen choreographed on American Ballet Theatre's Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School students and a film by former Miami City Ballet dancer Ezra Hurwitz.

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Benjamin Millepied, who briefly helmed the Paris Opéra Ballet, finished his duties with the company on July 15. He will return to L.A. to focus his energy on his contemporary dance company, L.A. Dance Project, which has its Joyce Theater debut this month.

Millepied came on board at POB buzzing with ideas for change—we covered his first announcement of full-season programming, which included a new Forsythe ballet, his plans for a digital platform and his Americanization of the POB rep. Then, almost exactly a year later, we wrote about his resignation. It seemed that Millepied's ideas couldn't coexist with the POB hierarchy, and now iconic former étoile Aurélie Dupont leads the company.

(Photo via L.A. Dance Project)

Though Millepied has stepped out of a leadership position in the classical ballet world—for the time being—he's still very much involved. New York City Ballet resident choreographer Justin Peck has created two works for L.A. Dance Project, former Pacific Northwest Ballet star Carla Körbes is his associate artistic director, and American Ballet Theatre will perform his ballet Daphnis and Chloe as part of its Fall 2016 season.

Recently, Millepied revealed to The New York Times that Körbes and former New York City Ballet principal Janie Taylor will start dancing for the company in the fall. He also mentioned growing the company, good news for contemporary dancers with strong classical training. If Millepied's dreams for L.A. Dance Project come true, that it becomes a company performing new work and historical repertory across the classical and modern spectrum, it will offer opportunities for many dancers.

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

Mere weeks after her retirement from Pacific Northwest Ballet, former principal Carla Körbes has joined the staff of Benjamin Millepied’s L.A. Dance Project as associate artistic director. Cörbes, who is serving as artist in residence at the Vail International Dance Festival July 27–August 10, has been elusive about her future plans up until now. According to the New York Times, her responsibilities will include casting dancers, overseeing rehearsals and programming, and reporting to Millepied. She will not perform with the company.

 

Körbes’ appointment is yet another get for L.A.’s booming dance scene. In addition to choreographer William Forsythe joining the faculty of University of Southern California’s Glorya Kaufmann School of Dance this fall, the Los Angeles Music Center announced last week that American Ballet Theatre executive director Rachel S. Moore has been named its new president and CEO.

We had a hunch that when Jenifer Ringer retired earlier this month, she wasn't saying "goodbye" to dance at large. The former New York City Ballet principal (and author of Dancing Through It) will be moving to California to direct Colburn Dance Academy, a new pre-professional dance program formed by The Colburn School, a performing arts high school, and Benjamin Millepied's L.A. Dance Project. The Academy will have a rigorous classical ballet foundation, but students will also explore modern, contemporary and commercial styles, as well as art and music history. The program will take just 10–12 students for its 2014–15 year, but eventually grow to 24. Dancers ages 14–19 are eligible. Auditions have yet to be announced.

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