Sono Osato, Screenshot via YouTube

Sono Osato, a trailblazing ballet and musical theater dancer, passed away last Wednesday at her home in New York City.

Best known for originating the role of Miss Turnstiles in Jerome Robbins' hit On the Town—one of Broadway's first non-segregated musicals—Osato got her start at 14 as the youngest member of the Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo, and as the troupe's first Japanese-American performer. She went on to dance for Ballet Theatre (now American Ballet Theatre), where she found success in New York City but was banned from touring in Mexico and California because of her Japanese background. For a brief time, Osato went by her mother's maiden name, Fitzpatrick, in an effort to escape the World War II-era anti-Japanese sentiment. During the war, her father was confined under military guard in Chicago as an enemy alien.

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New York City Ballet's Joseph Gordon and Tiler Peck in "Fancy Free." Photo by Paul Kolnik, Courtesy NYCB.

One of the titans among choreographers of the 20th century, Jerome Robbins will be celebrated by a number of ballet companies worldwide in 2018 for the centennial of his birth. He died in 1998 at age 79 after a prolific career. His rare talent enabled him to direct and choreograph Broadway hits (West Side Story, On the Town and Fiddler on the Roof, among many) and to create sublime ballets, such as Afternoon of a Faun for New York City Ballet; Fancy Free (his first ballet) for American Ballet Theatre; and NY Export: Opus Jazz for his short-lived troupe Ballets: U.S.A.


Jerome Robbins. Photo Courtesy Dance Magazine Archives.

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American Ballet Theatre just wrapped up its 2015 spring season, but that doesn’t mean newly promoted principal Misty Copeland is slowing down any. Yesterday, The New York Times announced that from August 25–September 5, Copeland will be dancing—and singing—as Ivy Smith in the Broadway musical On the Town. (New York City Ballet principal Megan Fairchild currently portrays the role.) According to Broadwayworld.com, Copeland will perform during the Tuesday, Thursday and Friday evening shows and Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday matinees (but not the Saturday and Sunday evening performances). Luckily, her run on the Great White Way coincides with ABT’s summer layoff, so she should be back on the ballet stage in time for the company’s fall season. How on earth does she do it all? I’m not sure, but ballet hasn’t gotten this much popular attention in a long time. Keep it coming, Misty!

Megan Fairchild and the cast of On the Town. Photo by Joan Marcus, Courtesy On the Town.

New York City Ballet soloist Georgina Pazcoguin will step into the role of Ivy Smith, aka Miss Turnstiles, from August 11–23 in the Broadway musical On the Town. She'll be filling in for New York City Ballet principal Megan Fairchild who will take her last Broadway bow (for now!) on August 9.

Pazcoguin will be followed by American Ballet Theatre principal Misty Copeland, who will perform the role August 25 to September 6. While we love the run of ballet dancers on Broadway, we're excited to have Fairchild back onstage with NYCB for the company's fall season.

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