Ballet Stars
Cesar Corrales photographed by Nathan Sayers for Pointe.

This is Pointe's October/November 2017 Cover Story. You can subscribe to the magazine here, or click here to purchase this issue.

At just 20 years old, Cesar Corrales has skyrocketed to principal at English National Ballet.

English National Ballet was midway through a precise but polite performance of William Forsythe's In the middle, somewhat elevated last spring when Cesar Corrales burst into view. The 20-year-old principal turned his solo, a minor one in Forsythe's ballet, into a blaze of technical power and audacious phrasing. The tension at London's Sadler's Wells ratcheted up several notches, and his colleagues joined in his contagious energy.

It wasn't the first time Corrales had raised the stakes on stage. In three short seasons with English National Ballet, he has gone from promising virtuoso to one of the British companies' most vital members. Even among the outstanding crop of men hired by artistic director and principal dancer Tamara Rojo, Corrales' feline technique and generous presence have stood out in ballets including Le Corsaire and Akram Khan's Giselle.


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Ballet Stars
Baryshnikov in Letter to a Man. Photo by Lucie Jansch, Courtesy Brooklyn Academy of Music.

Adding another milestone to his already untouchable career, Mikhail Baryshnikov will take on the role of iconic ballet dancer Vaslav Nijinsky in director Robert Wilson's one-man show, Letter to a Man. The work had its premiere in Italy in 2015 and had its U.S. debut as part of the Brooklyn Academy of Music's Next Wave Festival on October 15. The show completes its New York run on October 30.

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It’s difficult to classify the movement in Vaslav Nijinsky's Le Sacre du Printemps as ballet; today, we would denote such vocabulary as modern dance. But Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballet Russes, which premiered the ballet in Paris in 1913, embraced France's emerging avant-garde culture at the time. They premiered works by new choreographers whose names we now recognize (Michel Fokine, Bronislava Nijinska and George Balanchine, to name a few). But when Diaghilev commissioned Nijinsky and composer Igor Stravinsky to create Le Sacre du Printemps, he set fire to the audience. Nijinsky choreographed heavy, grounded, awkward movement with turned-in feet, to the dissonant and stringent accents of Stravinsky’s score. They created an atmosphere so foreign and uncomfortable that the audience at Paris' Théâtre des Champs-Élysées broke into a riot. 

Nijinsky’s choreography was presumed lost until the Joffrey Ballet’s 1987 reconstruction. After years of research, dance historians Millicent Hodson and Ken Archer recovered Nijinsky’s notations, sketches and photographs to revive the piece. This video shows the ballet's last scene, when the community’s chosen sacrificial virgin dances to her death. Beatriz Rodriguez dances the role with the fear and force that the choreography requires, bringing the spirit of the Ballet Russes back to the stage. Happy #ThrowbackThursday!

 

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