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Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake. Johan Persson, Courtesy The Kennedy Center.

Wonder what's going on in ballet this week? We've rounded up some highlights.

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Dancers in the snow scene from Staatsballett Berlin's Nutcracker. Carlos Quezada, Courtesy Staatsballett Berlin.

The Nutcracker has been a dancer's tradition for over 125 years. As a student at Russia's Imperial Ballet School in Saint Petersburg in the early 1900s, a young George Balanchine performed in the original production of The Nutcracker, created in 1892, at the Imperial Mariinsky Theater. In fact, that production had a huge influence on his own version, choreographed in 1954 for the New York City Ballet—and now performed at Christmastime by companies across the nation and abroad.

In 2013, Russian choreographers Vasily Medvedev and Yuri Burlaka staged a revival of the original Mariinsky production for Staatsballett Berlin, based on the 1892 libretto by Marius Petipa, choreography by Lev Ivanov and original set and costume designs. Using a combination of Stepanov notations and early film recordings of Nikolas Sergeyev's first stagings of the ballet in the West, Medvedev and Burlaka built a version of The Nutcracker. Though not a step-by-step reconstruction, their production transmits the original's "unmistakable flair," as they explain in the program notes. Pointe took a look at both the Berlin and New York productions to see how Balanchine's childhood Nutcracker might have influenced his own. We found a lot of similarities—and a few key differences.

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Ballet Stars
NYCB soloist Indiana Woodward (center) with Rachel Hutsell and Gretchen Smith in Pam Tanowitz's Bartók Ballet. Erin Baiano, Courtesy NYCB.

In the middle of Pam Tanowitz's Bartók Ballet for New York City Ballet, Indiana Woodward flew into a quicksilver sequence of turns and jumps, but was repeatedly carried off by her male cast mates. She calmly reemerged each time, continuing on as if uninterrupted. The unflappable determination and laser-sharp focus evident here were a prime example of Woodward's approach to the ballet as a whole.

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Ballet Stars

Yesterday, Dance Magazine released its much-awaited, annual "25 to Watch" list. With 2020 just around the corner, now's the perfect time to get to know these breakout dancers, choreographers and companies (see the full list here).

Spanning dance genres, the diverse list includes eight ballet dancers. And though we admit we're a bit biased, we think they're a pretty incredible bunch (you might even recognize two from our 2019 Stars of the Corps). These dancers are bringing a fresh take to classical works and providing inspiration for contemporary choreographers. They've stood out from the group, wowing audiences with their charisma, virtuosity and versatility. Read on to find out what makes them dancers to watch.

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For any young dancer performing in The Nutcracker, Marie (aka Clara, depending on the production) is a dream role. But Charlotte Nebres, who will be playing Marie in New York City Ballet's Nutcracker this year isn't just bringing her own dream to life—she's also making history.

Charlotte is the first black dancer to ever perform the role of Marie in NYCB's production of George Balanchine's The Nutcracker, which dates all the way back to 1954. Charlotte was, of course, hugely excited to perform the role of Marie, but, according to the New York Times, when her mother told her that she was the first black dancer cast in the role, she said "Wow. That seems a little late."

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Ballet Stars
Sisters and New York City Ballet corps dancers Mary Thomas MacKinnon and Olivia MacKinnon. Courtesy Ezra Hurwitz.

When Elle Decor approached Ezra Hurwitz to create a campaign with Tiffany & Co., the former Miami City Ballet dancer-turned-filmmaker knew just who he wanted to feature: the dancers of New York City Ballet.

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Ballet Stars
Lauren Lovette. Quinn Wharton.

New York City Ballet principal Lauren Lovette tries hard to focus on wellness despite her busy schedule. Her Hydro Flask water bottle—a gift from colleague Indiana Woodward—is emblazoned with the words "Be Here Now," a daily reminder to stay present. Lovette also keeps two doTERRA essential oils in her bag, and starts each day with Citrus Bliss. "I put it on my wrist at barre, and smell it," she says. "It just keeps me in a positive mood." Another scent, Balance, is reserved for days when she's feeling particularly frazzled.

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NYCB Associate Artistic Director Wendy Whelan and NYCB Artistic Director Jonathan Stafford. Christopher Lane, Courtesy NYCB.

After a year and a half of tumult at New York City Ballet, the company is finally settling into a groove under new artistic director Jonathan Stafford and associate artistic director Wendy Whelan, who lead their first full season starting this fall.

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NYCB dancers Peter Walker (left) and Jonathan Fahoury performing Kyle Abraham's "The Runaway," with costumes by Giles Deacon (photo by Erin Baiano, courtesy NYCB)

Autumn in the Big Apple means one thing: New York City Ballet's Fall Fashion Gala. Since its inception in 2012 by Sarah Jessica Parker, the gala has produced dozens of new ballets, complete with original costumes designed by the fashion industry's biggest names. Ahead of this year's gala—which takes place September 26th and features new works by Lauren Lovette and Edwaard Liang, with costumes designed by Zac Posen and Anna Sui—NYCB joined forces with INTERSECT by Lexus on an exhibition showcasing the many stunning gala costumes from years past. We met up with Marc Happel, NYCB's Director of Costumes, to talk about the retrospective, the biggest lessons he's learned over the years, and the designers he'd love to work with in the future.

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Ballet Stars
Roman Mejia in Robbins' Dances at a Gathering. Erin Baiano, Courtesy NYCB

Roman Mejia is only 19, and he has the energy to prove it; in the studio and onstage at New York City Ballet, this standout corps member bursts with a kind of uncontainable ebullience. Like his idol, Edward Villella, he specializes in extroverted, allegro roles: Puck in A Midsummer Night's Dream, Candy Cane in The Nutcracker, one of the sailors in Jerome Robbins' Fancy Free.

More recently, he has caught the eye of several big-name choreographers: In the last few months he understudied William Forsythe's Hermann Schmermann, and strutted his stuff to Kanye West in Kyle Abraham's The Runaway. Alexei Ratmansky, who prepared him for his debut in Pictures at an Exhibition in the spring, is also a fan: "He's like a reincarnation of Eddie Villella," the choreographer said recently. "Great energy and attack, and fantastic technique."

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Ballet Stars
Behind-the-scenes shot of NYCB dancers on set. Lawrence White, Courtesy Emily Kikta and Peter Walker.

Tonight, New York City Ballet opens its 53 annual summer season at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. But if you're away at a summer intensive or busy rehearsing at your home studio and can't make it to a performance, we have the next best thing: seven new site specific videos made by and featuring NYCB dancers.

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Trending
Aarón Sanz, Claire Kretzschmar and Clara Miller with Kretzschmar's grandfather, Leo Theonnes. Courtesy Kretzschmar.

New York City Ballet soloist Claire Kretzschmar has had the chance to perform just about everywhere: New York, Los Angeles, Paris, Shanghai, you name it. But one of her most inspiring performance opportunities came a little less than a month ago, dancing with her friends on the wooden floor of a repurposed exercise room in front of 80 captivated residents at the Village Green Retirement Campus in Seattle.

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