Paula Lobo, Courtesy Matt Ross PR

It was only a matter of time before dance super couple Sara Mearns and Joshua Bergasse did a major project together.

After all, the newlyweds first met when Mearns, a New York City Ballet star, was being considered for a part on the TV show "Smash," which Bergasse was choreographing. They hit it off, but the role ended up getting cut.

Fast-forward to today, and they're working on their first full-length musical together: I Married an Angel, which opens next week as part of New York City Center's Encores! season, with Bergasse as choreographer and Mearns as the star.

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Ballet Stars
Wendy Whelan leads a crowded morning class. "The energy was amazing," she says. "Among the visiting companies, there was such a shared respect and friendliness toward each other." Kyle Froman.

On a crisp day in late October, the studio air is thick and hot as dozens of sweaty dancers finish up grand allégro at New York City Center. Despite the fact that many of them are jet-lagged, there is a palpable, positive energy throughout the studio. Teaching class is former New York City Ballet star Wendy Whelan, which seems fitting. The dancers, culled from eight major companies around the world, are getting ready for opening night of Balanchine: The City Center Years, a five-day festival highlighting the choreographer George Balanchine's early works.

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News
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
Kimin Kim and Soobin Lee. Photo Courtesy SunHee Kim.

Kimin Kim may be a huge star in Russia, but he hasn't forgotten his roots. The prodigious South Korean dancer, who became the Mariinsky Ballet's first foreign principal in 2015, trained at the Korea National University of the Arts, also known as K'Arts. He owes much of his success, he says over email, to the academy's teachers, who prepared him well for his high-profile career. So when dean SunHee Kim approached him about guest-starring in the American premiere of her original ballet Song of the Mermaid, which K'Arts Ballet brings to New York City next week, he didn't hesitate to sign on. "I had performed the role of the Prince while I was at school in Korea and it was such a memorable performance," Kim says. "I've always wanted to do it again, so I happily accepted her offer."

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Viral Videos
Ashley Shaw as Victoria Page. Photo by Johan Persson.

This fall, Matthew Bourne's New Adventures presents the U.S. premiere of a fresh take on an old classic. The Red Shoes, based on a Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale and an Academy Award–winning film, tells the story of Victoria Page, a dancer obsessed with passion and ambition who winds up in a triangle involving two men invested in her career.


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Fairchild and Sterling Hilton in "Duo Concertant." Photo by Paul Kolnik, Courtesy NYCB.

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.

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Honji Wang and Sara Mearns. Photo by Brooke Trisolini, Courtesy of Jacob's Pillow Dance.

We all know that seeing world class dance is expensive. But for two weeks a year New York City Center offers $15 tickets to their Fall for Dance Festival. This magical unicorn of an experience features five unique programs and will run from October 2-14.

The program includes five world premieres commissioned specifically for the Festival, three of which feature some of our favorite ballet superstars.

Program One (Oct. 2-3) will showcase a new work by choreographer and New York City Ballet soloist Troy Schumacher on 14 dancers from Miami City Ballet. While rehearsals are still in progress, we do know that the piece will be a meditation on childhood set to Francis Poulenc's Concerto for Two Pianos in D Minor.


Troy Schumacher in rehearsalPhoto by Kyle Froman for Pointe

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Osipova and Sergei Polunin in Arthur Pita's Run Mary Run. Photo by Bill Cooper, Courtesy Sadler's Wells.

Natalia Osipova, the Moscow-born principal of The Royal Ballet, has teamed up with London's Sadler's Wells Theatre to present Natalia Osipova & Artists, which will be making its U.S. premiere at New York City Center from November 10–12. (One piece on the program, Russell Maliphant's Silent Echo, debuted August 27 in Los Angeles.) This surprising triple bill has given Osipova free rein to explore her contemporary side while working with some of the world's most important choreographers (Arthur Pita, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Maliphant) as well as her romantic partner, ballet dancer Sergei Polunin.

With the help of a translator, Pointe sat down with the 30-year-old Osipova and discussed ballet, contemporary dance and that moment and place where the personal and the professional meet.

What was the reason for creating a show featuring contemporary works rather than ballet?

I was always interested in contemporary dance—even in ballet school, I would follow it. Also, when one dances classical ballet all the time, you have to spice things up, so I choose to try different things. In a way, it's all part of a creative search. I wouldn't say I'm bored dancing classical pieces, I'd simply like to learn other languages of dance, as well.

How has the show been received?

As usual, there were good and bad reviews. I couldn't really single out what specifically people objected to in the bad reviews, not because I don't listen to critics—it's a very hard profession and I'm used to critics of all kinds—but I don't peruse every little detail and then try to reconcile it.

In Russell Maliphant's Silent Echo. Photo by Bill Cooper, Courtesy Sadler's Wells.

Each piece was created especially for you. At the Edinburgh International Festival, the audience was particularly impressed with Russell Maliphant's Silent Echo. How involved were you in its creation?

Normally, I don't interfere, but I initially met with Russell and discussed it, and it was clear from the beginning that I would be dancing with Sergei. But the rest was left up to him. In this contemporary sphere, I trust the choreographer, whereas in a classical ballet, I might have discussions with the choreographer in order to introduce my own idiosyncrasies into pieces.

Is that because you're new to contemporary dance and less comfortable with it?

Classical ballet is my native language, so there is room for me to deliver something of my own within it. With contemporary dance, I simply don't feel like I am at the level where I can give input. I'm still learning that language.

How did you and Sergei Polunin meet?

We met about a year and a half ago while working on Giselle at La Scala in Milan. The partner who was scheduled to dance with me was ill, so I asked him to fill the role. There was something in the air about dancing with Sergei. My mother even mentioned that he might be an interesting dance partner. So in a way it was in the cards.

You must have heard he was being called the “bad boy of ballet" as rumors of him throwing fits and storming offstage surfaced. What did you expect working with him to be like?

I had certainly heard of Sergei's reputation before working with him, but I understand well how things are very often exaggerated. So I didn't pay much attention. In the end, I wasn't going to dance with his reputation, I was going to dance with the real person.

In Pita's Run Mary Run. Photo by Bill Cooper, Courtesy Sadler's Wells.

What is he really like?

I met him after he gained that “bad boy" reputation, so I can only judge him as he is now. He certainly is quite outspoken. But the person that I work with and that I am together with is fairly levelheaded and very genuine. He is possibly a little more settled now. The situations that occurred previously happened for real reasons. He behaved as he did as a sincere creative person, there was no unnecessary theatricality.

It must be difficult to maintain a relationship when you work with different companies and are constantly touring. Was this production, at least in part, a way to spend more time together?

The show was already in motion at the time when we met, so it was not made specifically so that we could dance together, but it was a happy coincidence.

What are the best and worst parts of working with your significant other?

The most difficult part is that any outburst or critique during rehearsals is more open, so conflicts do arise. And as I am a young woman, it is easier for me to sometimes give way in these conflicts; and sometimes they carry on into our personal lives a little bit. The positives, however, are obvious. The feeling of being onstage together and dancing together and creating something together is incomparable.

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

It's not every day that you get to see a world-class ballerina rehearse. It's pretty much never that you get to see that world-class ballerina rehearse Martha Graham's work. So to say that I was thrilled to be able to watch Diana Vishneva prepare Graham's Errand into the Maze yesterday is a massive understatement.

Vishneva first performed Errand at a gala evening in St. Petersburg last June. (She brought down the house.) She'll reprise her take on the iconic work this Wednesday night at the Martha Graham Dance Company gala at New York City Center, and again on Friday and Sunday as part of her own bill at City Center, Diana Vishneva: Dialogues.

Vishneva was intensely, singularly focused during Monday's rehearsal. "For me as an artist, what's most important is to feel the structure of [Graham's] choreography on my body," she told me, "to figure out how it fits." Pointe was able to capture some of that process on camera. This gorgeous image is a sneak preview of the photo essay to come in our June/July issue. Enjoy--and stay tuned!

There have been rumblings about Wendy Whelan's New York City Ballet retirement for a while now. As of this morning, it's official: The revered principal dancer will take her final bow with the company on October 18.

There's no word yet on what she'll dance for that last show, the culmination of three decades of extraordinary work with NYCB. Yet, however emotional that moment is guaranteed to be, this is just the end of one chapter in Whelan's remarkable career.

Next up is the U.K. premiere of her Restless Creature program in July. (The U.S. Restless Creature tour, which she was forced to cancel this spring due to her longer-than-anticipated recovery from hip surgery, has also been rescheduled for early 2015.) In July of 2015, she'll premiere a new project with the Royal Ballet's Edward Watson in London; that venture will make its way to the U.S. in the spring of 2016. And as if that weren't enough to keep her busy, Whelan has also been appointed artistic associate at New York City Center. For two years, beginning this November, the theater will be her home base, a place for her to develop future projects.

Long story short: Yes, we'll miss Wendy's inimitable presence on the City Ballet stage. But this restless creature isn't abandoning us anytime soon.

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