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Royal Ballet principal Sarah Lamb taking onstage class at The Joyce Theater. Kyle Froman.

New York City's dance scene is having its own "British invasion" right now. The 2019 edition of The Joyce Theater's annual Ballet Festival, taking place now through August 18, is curated by a team from The Royal Ballet, and a small group of company members are in town to perform. (The festival also features special guests from National Ballet of Canada, American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet and New York Theater Ballet.) And while Royal Ballet director Kevin O'Hare had a huge hand in developing the event and planning its first program, he tapped two of his principal dancers—Lauren Cuthbertson and Edward Watson—as well as frequent company designer Jean-Marc Puissant, to curate programs of their own. "Anytime I go to dance events I see them there—they're always interested in what's going on and have such deep knowledge of choreographers," says O'Hare. "I thought they would be up for the challenge."

Most exciting for us, of course, is the chance to see some of The Royal's star dancers. In addition to Watson and Cuthbertson (who are dancing heavily in their own programs), principals Sarah Lamb and Marcelino Sambé (newly promoted, and our April/May cover star) are in town, as well as rising dancers Calvin Richardson, Romany Pajdak and Joseph Sissens. We couldn't pass up the opportunity to see them in action, and last week the company graciously allowed us to sit in on morning class for a Pointe photo exclusive. Check them out below!


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Ballet Stars
Quinn Wharton

This is Pointe's April/May 2019 Cover Story. You can subscribe to the magazine here, or click here to purchase this issue.

The third movement of Balanchine's Symphony in C is designed to wow, but it's not often a dancer manages to bring unadulterated joy to its brutally difficult steps. Yet when The Royal Ballet's Marcelino Sambé ran onto the stage last fall, the bright, cheerful buoyancy of his first grand jeté drew a gasp from the British gentleman sitting behind me in the Royal Opera House's chic Grand Tier.

The stage isn't the only place where Sambé's infectious energy stands out. Time and again, company employees crack a smile at the mention of his name; a stage door attendant perks up when calling him over and chats animatedly about his performances. "He basically cheers up the whole Royal Ballet," says principal Francesca Hayward, a frequent partner of Sambé's. "He's one of those: Sunshine comes with him," Kevin O'Hare, the director of The Royal Ballet, concurs. "He's just a great, positive influence in the room and in the building."

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A shot from NYCB dancer Devin Alberda's Instagram account, @devinalberda.

From rehearsal bloopers to tour shots, Instagram gives us an unprecedented glimpse into the lives of the dancers we love. Now, three pros are taking it to the next level. American Ballet Theatre soloist Cassandra Trenary, Royal Ballet first soloist Marcelino Sambé and New York City Ballet corps dancer Devin Alberda have created Instagram accounts dedicated to highlighting their more serious interest in photography, while giving viewers an intimate peak at the candid moments that make up company life.

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The Royal Ballet's Vadim Muntagirov and Marianela Nuñez in La Bayadère. Photo by Bill Cooper, Courtesy ROH.

Do you ever wish you could teleport to London and casually stroll into The Royal Opera House to see some of the world's best-loved ballets? Well, we have a solution for you: The Royal Ballet's 2018-19 cinema season.

Whether live or recorded, the seven ballet programs listed below, streaming now through next October, will deliver all of the magic that The Royal Ballet has to offer straight to your local movie theater. Can you smell the popcorn already?

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The Royal Ballet's Francesca Hayward and Marcelino Sambé in Tarantella. Photo by Bill Cooper, Courtesy New York City Center.

In 1948, George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein founded New York City Ballet at New York City Center. This year, in honor of its 75th anniversary, City Center is bringing together eight companies—American Ballet Theatre, The Joffrey Ballet, Mariinsky Ballet, Miami City Ballet, NYCB, Paris Opéra Ballet, The Royal Ballet and San Francisco Ballet—to perform 13 Balanchine works over six programs, running October 31–November 4. "I liked the idea of showing different perspectives on how Balanchine is performed internationally," says City Center president and CEO Arlene Shuler. "Bringing together these eight companies is unprecedented."

Balanchine: The City Center Years www.youtube.com

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News

This week, there's a whirlwind of dance in the Windy City. The annual Chicago Dancing Festival, celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, opened last night at the Auditorium Theater with glittering performances by the Joffrey Ballet, Martha Graham Dance Company, Pennsylvania Ballet and Daniel Ulbricht’s Stars of American Ballet. The festival continues through Saturday, with performances held at multiple theaters and parks across the city. While all shows are free, tickets for indoor performances went on “sale” in late July—and sold out fast.

 

Lillian Di Piazza and James Ihde in Concerto Barocco. Photo by Alexander Iziliaev, via PA Ballet.

Francesca Hayward as Juliet. Photo by Alice Pennefather, Courtesy ROH.

But don't worry, Chicagoland ballet lovers: No tickets are required for the festival’s outdoor Dancing Under the Stars program, held at Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park on August 27. The evening includes the Joffrey Ballet in Christopher Wheeldon’s After the Rain, Pennsylvania Ballet in George Balanchine’s Concerto Barocco and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago in William Forsythe’s One Flat Thing. Newly minted Royal Ballet principal Francesca Hayward and soloist Marcelino Sambé will be there, too, dancing the pas de deux from Sir Kenneth MacMillan's Romeo and Juliet (a role Hayward talked about in our February/March cover story). The show also includes Chicago Dancers United, a collective of local dance companies which work in tandem with Dance for Life, to raise funds for critical health issues like HIV and AIDS. They'll be performing in a new work by Chicago-based choreographer Randy Duncan. The festival closes with Rennie Harris' Students of the Asphalt Jungle, performed by his hip hop company, Rennie Harris Pure Movement.

 

Stake out a spot early—the performance starts at 7:30 pm, but fixed seating at the Pavilion is first come, first serve. There is also lawn seating available. For more information, click here.

 

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

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