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Angelina Vorontsova in the company's revival of "Cinderella." Photo by Stas Levshin, Courtesy Mikhailovsky Ballet.

Ella Persson remembers the rehearsals for her debut as Giselle. "I was in my first year with the company, and I started preparing with Mikhail Messerer during late evenings," the Mikhailovsky Ballet's Swedish-born coryphée says. "I was definitely not ready, but he gave me a chance to push myself and made me so much stronger, mentally and physically."

Under Messerer, the Mikhailovsky Ballet has carved a niche on the Russian and international stage by investing in coaching and dancers' growth. Unlike the older Mariinsky, St. Petersburg's second ballet company was only founded after World War I. But with a classically focused repertoire and productions that rotate onstage every month, it offers plenty of opportunities for talent to thrive.


Ballet master in chief Mikhail Messerer. Photo Courtesy Mikhailovsky Ballet.

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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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Ballet Stars
Kayoko Everhart in Forsythe's The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude. Photo by Jesús Vallinas, Courtesy CND.

Kayoko Everhart's life and career have been marked by two spectacular journeys. The first is one of geographic movement: Born in Tokyo, Japan, to a Japanese mother and an African-American father, she moved to Tacoma, Washington, at the age of 7. Then as a teenager she went to California to study with the San Francisco Ballet School, later heading to Oklahoma to join the corps at Tulsa Ballet. She ultimately settled in Madrid, Spain, where she is currently a principal dancer at the Compañía Nacional de Danza. Her second journey began once in Spain, where she decided to take off her pointe shoes to dance contemporary ballet under previous CND artistic director Nacho Duato. But the 2010 arrival of current director José Carlos Martínez gave her the opportunity to get back on pointe. We spoke with Everhart about her career in Spain, dancing for different directors and more.

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News
Waltz and Ohman. Photo by Davids/David Dormer via the Berliner.

Big changes are afoot in Germany's ballet scene, including director and dancer turnovers at two of the country's high profile companies.

Staatsballett Berlin

At Staatsballett Berlin, artistic director Nacho Duato will leave at the end of his contract, which expires in 2019. Duato has served as the company's artistic director for the past two years, but it hasn't been smooth sailing. He's faced some harsh criticism, and Staatsballett dancers went on strike over wage disputes under his leadership.

Duato has three years to plan his next move before co-directors Sasha Waltz and Johannes Öhman take over in 2019. Öhman has directed the Royal Swedish Ballet since 2011. Waltz currently leads and choreographs her own contemporary troupe, Sasha Waltz and Guests. She will share her time between the two companies. It's unclear what steps the Royal Swedish Ballet will take when its director assumes executive and administrative responsibilities in Berlin. Waltz's role will be more studio-oriented. She will set one of her works on the company annually and create three world premieres.

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