Ballet Stars
Photo Courtesy Cloud & Victory.

Dancewear brand Cloud & Victory is so much more than just clever t-shirts; founder Min is set on finding all kinds of ways to connect to the greater community. Earlier this fall she organized a master class led by American Ballet Theatre stars Gillian Murphy and Isabella Boylston, and now she's organizing a fundraiser to fight against child slavery called Pointes Against Child Slavery.

Signed pointe shoes donated by ballet dancers from some of the world's best companies will be sold online from November 8-19. The proceeds will be donated to two non-governmental organizations committed to fighting against child slavery, sexual abuse and exploitation for the empowerment and welfare of underprivileged children. The first is Destiny Rescue, a U.S.-based organization that since 2011 has rescued 2,000 children enslaved in Thailand, Cambodia, the Dominican Republic, the Philippines and India. The second organization is The Promiseland Project in Nepal. The Singapore-based Promiseland Project is working to build a school and orphanage in Dhamphus, Nepal to "shelter, raise and nurture the poor, needy and orphaned children of Nepal and equip them with an education and skill sets to make a better life for themselves." The earthquakes that devastated Nepal two years ago have set the project back, and they're looking for funds to finish construction.

Pointe shoes worn by Marianela Núñez during the Royal Ballet's Fall/Winter season. Photo via Cloud & Victory.

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Ballet Stars
Zhou with Arman Grigoryan in Nacho Duato's Herrumbe, Photo by Fernando Marcos, Courtesy Staatsballett Berlin

Patricia Zhou's haunting interpretation of Nacho Duato's Herrumbre is profound—her liquid movement and supernatural musicality reveal a maturity well beyond her 23 years. "It's emotionally draining to give so much onstage," she admits, "but every time I perform Herrumbre, I experience something new." Delicate yet daring, Zhou's dancing reshapes the classical mold at Staatsballett Berlin.

Zhou with Dominc Hodal and Alexander Akulov in Duato's Herrumbre Photo by Fernando Marcos, Courtesy Staatsballett Berlin

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ABT's Calvin Royal III in Alexei Ratmansky's Serenade after Plato's Symposium. Photo by Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy ABT.

Miami City Ballet's National Tour

Artists of Miami City Ballet in Justin Peck's Heatscape. Photo by Gene Schiavone, Courtesy Miami City Ballet.

In late April at the Harris Theater, Chicagoans found Miami City Ballet firing on all cylinders, following the company's Lincoln Center debut and an engagement at Northrop in Minneapolis. Stage-filling Balanchine classics like Bourrée Fantasque, Serenade and Symphony in Three Movements struck a perfect balance between relaxed exuberance and clean execution, while seasoned stars like Jeanette Delgado and Renato Penteado shone in contemporary works by Justin Peck (Heatscape) and Liam Scarlett (Viscera), respectively. Most memorably, a dream team of 23 artists—including the irrepressible Nathalia Arja—gave a commanding presentation of Symphonic Dances, created for MCB by Alexei Ratmansky.

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What makes Los Angeles such an elusive place for ballet? The city is a cultural capital when you look at it in terms of music, theater and visual art, not to mention film. But for some reason, concert dance has never been able to set down roots with any permanence or prestige. Even Los Angeles Ballet's name-brand directors and choreographers haven't been able to lift that company out of pick-up troupe status.

 

Benjamin Millepied's the latest intrepid choreographer to give So Cal a shot. His strategy with his much talked-about LA Dance Project is to build less of a dance company, and more of a collective of artists. Composer Nico Muhly, art consultant Matthieu Humery, producer Charles Fabius, film producer Dimitri Chamblas and Millepied all lead the team together. Millepied also throws around the word "accessible" quite a bit, with a number of plans to take concert dance out of the concert hall and into younger arenas such as rooftops and museums and videos.

 

One thing's for sure: Millepied's Hollywood credentials, courtesy of Black Swan and Natalie Portman, have given him a notoriety that has everybody watching, even people outside of the dance world. The latest feature article about his project came out yesterday in the Los Angeles Downtown News. Everyone's looking to see what happens when the company debuts this weekend, if the city will finally find a concert dance troupe that Angelenos can get behind.

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