As the Hungarian National Ballet prepares its first U.S. tour to New York City's Lincoln Center this week amid a busy fall season in Budapest, first soloist Lili Felméry and principal dancer Gergő Ármin Balázsi have a lot on their plates. But adapting to the unknown is nothing new; since joining the company, both Hungarian dancers have tackled impressive lists of classical and contemporary roles. Just recently married, they're bursting with excitement to perform in New York together, where the company is performing Swan Lake, Don Quixote and an all Hans van Manen program. Pointe caught up with the newlyweds to hear about some of their favorite onstage moments, honing the details of style, and favorite memories learning from some of the dance world's greatest masters.
Wonder what's going on in ballet this week? We've pulled together some highlights.
Vail Dance Festival Races to the Finish Line
This Sunday, Vail Dance Festival wraps up an eventful few weeks jam-packed with premieres, collaborations and guests. The final week of the festival has us looking forward to appearances from American Ballet Theatre, Ballet Hispánico and more.
Vail's NOW: Premieres Includes New Michelle Dorrance Work for ABT
On August 6, Vail's NOW: Premieres program features new works commissioned for the festival. Choreographers include New York City Ballet star Tiler Peck (making her festival choreographic debut), Lauren Lovette, Justin Peck and Claudia Schreier, who is creating a ballet on dancers from Ballet Hispánico. Tap maverick Michelle Dorrance is also choreographing a piece on American Ballet Theatre, the second of Dorrance's three works on the company this year. Watch some of the same choreographers' premieres at the 2017 edition of NOW below.
You can find Tiler Peck just about anywhere these days—onstage at New York City Ballet, in commercials, on "The Ellen Degeneres Show." And let's not forget starring in 2014's Little Dancer, a musical that followed the creation of Edgar Degas' famous sculpture, "Little Dancer Aged 14." Peck played Marie van Goethem, the young Paris Opéra Ballet School student who modeled for Degas. Now, she's reprising the role—er, her likeness is—for a good cause. Visual artist Elliott Arkin has created a series of limited edition sculptures of Peck as the Little Dancer. Proceeds will go to Dance Against Cancer, the annual benefit concert for the American Cancer Society produced by NYCB principal Daniel Ulbricht and Manhattan Youth Ballet programming director Erin Fogarty (both of whom lost a parent to the disease). Peck will also be part of the event's star-studded cast; all of the dancers donate their time, and most perform in memory of a loved one.
Ask the Paris Opéra Ballet, the New York City Ballet and the Bolshoi Ballet to share a stage, with each performing one act of Balanchine's Jewels, and you might expect a degree of friendly (or less-than-friendly) competition. But as POB gave its exquisitely polite rendition of "Emeralds" during the Lincoln Center Festival's three-company production this summer, one-upsmanship seemed far from everyone's mind.
Then the curtain rose on New York City Ballet, its dancers visibly shaking with excitement in their "Rubies" finery. And the David H. Koch Theater audience collectively leaned forward.
Photo by Paul Kolnik, Courtesy NYCB.
Nutcracker season is upon us, with productions popping up in on stages in big cities and small towns around the country. But this year you can catch New York City Ballet's famous version on the silver screen, too. Lincoln Center at the Movies and Screen Vision Media are presenting a limited engagement of NYCB's George Balanchine's The Nutcracker at select cinemas nationwide starting December 2. It stars Ashley Bouder as Dewdrop and Megan Fairchild and Joaquin De Luz as the Sugarplum Fairy and Cavalier.
While nothing beats seeing a live performance (the company's theatrical Nutcracker run opens Friday), the big screen will no doubt magnify some of this production's most breathtaking effects: the Christmas tree that grows to an impressive 40 feet, Marie's magical spinning bed, and the stunning, swirling snow scene. Click here to find a participating movie theater near you—then, go grab some popcorn.
This Thursday marks New York City Ballet's annual Fall Gala. Spearheaded by actress and NYCB board member Sarah Jessica Parker, this glamorous event unites the worlds of ballet and fashion by partnering choreographers with top designers to collaborate on new works. This year, alongside premieres by NYCB company members/choreographers Lauren Lovette, Justin Peck and Troy Schumacher, 18-year old School of American Ballet alumna Gianna Reisen will present her first work for the stage at Lincoln Center's David H. Koch Theater.
NYCB Ballet Master in Chief Peter Martins noticed Reisen's work at SAB's Student Choreography Workshop and invited her to create a piece for The New York Choreographic Institute in 2016 before offering her the Fall Gala commission. This opportunity came as part of a whirlwind year for Reisen; after finishing her studies at SAB she was offered an apprenticeship at Dresden Semperoper Ballett late last spring. Reisen spent only three weeks getting settled in Germany before returning to NYC in late August to start rehearsals for the gala.
We caught up with Reisen to hear what it's been like to work alongside such high-caliber artists and to get the inside scoop on her premiere.
New York City Ballet announced today that principal dancer Robert Fairchild will give his final performances with the company this October. Since his 2015 leave of absence to make his Broadway debut as Jerry Mulligan in Christopher Wheeldon's An American in Paris, Fairchild's presence on the Koch Theater stage has been rare. A true song-and-dance man, as a child he dreamt of following in the footsteps (or tap shoes) of Gene Kelly. Fairchild leaves the world of ballet to take on the surplus of opportunities in musical theater that have recently come his way.
Fairchild in "Apollo." Photo by Paul Kolnik, Courtesy NYCB.
You probably remember watching "Sesame Street" in your pre-ballet days, but did you know that some of your favorite ballet dancers and companies have appeared alongside your favorite PBS characters?
We've rounded up some our most beloved ballet scenes from the classic children's program below.
Count Suzanne Farrell's turns
Remember the days when you counted "1, 2, 3, 4" instead "and, 5, 6, 7, 8"? Relive that time as you—and the Count—add up the legendary Balanchine muse's turns in this 1985 episode.
Get Pointe in your inbox
In November, Lincoln Center announced that three of the world's biggest companies—New York City Ballet, Paris Opéra Ballet and the Bolshoi Ballet—would present a collaborative performance of George Balanchine's Jewels July 20–23 in honor of the ballet's 50th anniversary. Each company will take an act, with the Paris Opéra performing "Emeralds" and NYCB and the Bolshoi alternating performances of "Rubies" and "Diamonds." Yesterday, Lincoln Center finally announced what we've all been waiting for: the all-star cast list. (As well as rising stars–Alena Kovaleva and Jacopo Tissi, two young Bolshoi corps members, are slated to dance the leads in "Diamonds" for one performance.) Check out the list below this trailer!
The 11 facets of the Lincoln Center campus are an enormous cultural asset to New York City, and the world. Taken individually, New York City Ballet, School of American Ballet, The Juilliard School, The Chamber Music Society, Film Society, Jazz at Lincoln Center, Lincoln Center Theater, The Metropolitan Opera, New York Philharmonic, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts and Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts offer incredible programming and advancement for the arts, appreciated by approximately six million people annually. But it's unusual for all 11 organizations to work together for a specific cause, and today they did just that.
In an open letter, these leading arts organizations laid out their case for continued funding through the National Endowment for the Arts. The Trump administration has recently threatened to dismantle government funding for the arts, including the NEA. They point to the fact that art not only touches people's souls in an essential, yet unquantifiable way, but also offers concrete, measurable benefits—such as art therapy for veterans and new business investment in neighborhoods. The letter reiterates that the NEA costs each American tax payer less than one dollar per year, a statistic backed up by multiple sources.
Interestingly, Lincoln Center organizations receive far more funding from private donors than from public funding, yet the institution still feels that it's important to preserve the NEA. The letter states:
"Government helps in targeted ways at pivotal moments, for example, by providing early funding to get projects off the ground or helping to create or expand promising initiatives to achieve greater reach and impact. [...] But because it is so successful and its imprimatur so prestigious, every dollar the NEA contributes leads to nine additional dollars being donated from other sources." [Emphasis ours.]
It's heartening to see major institutions, which don't lack in donor support, point out that smaller groups live and die by small grants from the NEA. While Lincoln Center certainly won't fold due to government budget cuts, thousands of smaller organizations very well could—including regional dance companies, new choreography projects and funding for residencies. And the 11 organizations at Lincoln Center think American society will be worse off for such a loss.
No matter how jaded us New Yorkers get, visiting Lincoln Center can be downright magical. The stunning fountain, the lights on the balcony of the Koch Theater—it all adds up to let you know you're in a place where art is important. If you've always wanted to peel back the proverbial curtain on one of the city's art meccas, now's your chance. You can follow New York City Ballet principal Megan Fairchild, or watch a class at the School of American Ballet, during Lincoln Center's first ever Day in the Life broadcast. The live stream will happen on October 7 via Facebook Live, giving us just enough time to recover from World Ballet Day before we binge again.
The program will feature all 11 performing arts organizations that complete the Lincoln Center campus. Balletomanes will of course be familiar with The Metropolitan Opera (where American Ballet Theatre performs), New York City Ballet at the Koch Theater and School of American Ballet. But Lincoln Center also includes The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Film Society of Lincoln Center, Jazz at Lincoln Center, The Juilliard School, Lincoln Center Theater, Lincoln Ristorante, New York Philharmonic and The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts! This incredible lineup will be featured through a series of interviews and day-in-the-life episodes.
We can't wait!
American Ballet Theatre's Ratmansky Festival is the centerpiece of the company's spring season at Lincoln Center's Metropolitan Opera House. Since festivals and celebrations usually come later in a choreographer's career, it provides an unusual opportunity to see how ABT has adapted to and absorbed Alexei Ratmansky's approach since he became artist in residence seven years ago. “The last seven years of Alexei's creative process with us was an exploration of the company's depth," says ABT artistic director Kevin McKenzie. “I think it's always good to take another look at what is, in fact, still new to us."