Ballet Careers
Justin Peck and Patricia Delgado in The National's "Dark Side of the Gym" video. Photo by Ezra Hurwitz, courtesy Peck.

Last November, New York City Ballet resident choreographer Justin Peck and former Miami City Ballet principal Patricia Delgado masterfully took classical ballet to an entirely new medium in a haunting music video for The National's song "Dark Side of the Gym."


In just five minutes, Peck (acting as both the video's choreographer and director) and Delgado—who are a couple in real life—told the story of a love that's not meant to last. (Ezra Hurwitz, a former MCB dancer, served as the film's producer and editor.) Using tight shots, the audience got to experience ballet through the smallest shift in facial expression, and it was magical—so magical that Peck has been nominated for a 2018 World Choreography Award. He and Delgado performed the piece on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" last Monday, and tonight they're expanding on the video for a world premiere at New York City Center's Fall for Dance Festival.

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Los Angeles Ballet's Tigran Sargsyan and Petra Conti. LAB opens their fall season this week with a mixed bill including two company premieres. Photo by Reed Hutchinson, Courtesy LAB.

Fall for Dance FestivalWonder what's going on in ballet this week? We've pulled together some highlights.

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Patricia Delgado and Justin Peck in Vail, Colorado. Photo by Erin Baiano, Courtesy Patricia Delgado.

With the surplus of ballet festivals happening around the world these past few months, it's obvious that there's really no such thing as summer break for the pros. But between the red-eye flights and onstage performances, our favorite stars still found time to soak up the sun and enjoy some seriously stunning views (even if they were from rehearsal). From Verona, Italy to Vail, Colorado, click through to see the highlights from the 2018 summer tours.

PNB Goes To Paris

While on their first tour in Paris, Pacific Northwest Ballet's Elle Macy and company made sure to squeeze in some sightseeing—naturally visiting Paris Opéra Ballet's home theater, Palais Garnier, was top on the list.

Ballet Careers
NYCB ballet master Craig Hall with Peck onstage. Photo by Erin Baiano, Courtesy NYCB.

How does Justin Peck do it all? The Tony-award-winning resident choreographer at New York City Ballet is still performing as a company soloist. Yet he somehow manages to have his work performed by companies all over the world.

Like most busy choreographers, he has répétiteurs who stage his work. When Peck started choreographing for NYCB, Albert Evans was the ballet master at his side, but he passed away unexpectedly in 2015. The sudden, tragic loss, combined with his rapid success, meant Peck had to quickly find a group of trustworthy stagers. He turned to dancers he'd worked with, all in their late 20s or early 30s, who had no experience staging ballets.

The opportunities Peck had to offer changed their career trajectories, and gave them a chance to be part of the legacy he's building. "I feel like, how did this happen to me?" says Patricia Delgado who stages Peck's work, and who is also his fiancé. "I grew up idolizing Balanchine and Robbins, but I knew when I passed it on, I'd have to say I learned it from so-and-so. I feel lucky now to be able to pass on work born in my generation."

We caught up with four of Peck's busiest "right hands."

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Patricia Delgado in Pam Tanowitz's "Solo for Patricia 2017." Photo by Erin Baiano, Courtesy Vail Dance Festival.

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


Vail Dance Fest Enters Its Second Week

With half a month devoted to creating new art in the midst of stunning nature, Vail Dance Festival seems a dancer's paradise. Last week marked American Ballet Theatre's festival debut. The second week of performances, starting July 30, brings even more amazing ballet, with dancers and choreographers presenting a slew of new collaborations and premieres. Get the scoop on each program below.

Alonzo King LINES Ballet Takes the Vail Stage

July 30-31, Alonzo King LINES Ballet presents two different programs. The first performance, is a free, family-friendly event held in the Avon Performance Pavilion. The second, held at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, presents two works by King: Sand, a piece from 2016 set to jazz music, and Biophony, an exploration of the Earth's diverse ecosystems.

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Ballet Stars
Patricia Delgado. Photo by Gio Alma, Courtesy Delgado.

Patricia Delgado surprised her many fans last March when she announced that she'd be leaving Miami City Ballet after nearly 20 years to move to New York to be closer to her boyfriend, New York City Ballet soloist and resident choreographer Justin Peck. Though she took a risk stepping into the unknown without a sense of where her career would take her, it's paid off: this year we've seen Delgado pop up everywhere from Christopher Wheeldon's concert production of Brigadoon at New York City Center to dancing alongside Peck in a music video for the indie rock band The National.


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Well folks, the headline says it all. Patricia Delgado, long-time principal at Miami City Ballet, will be leaving the company at the end of the season. According to a press release, she's planning to pursue other artistic goals, yet to be defined. A Miami Herald story reports that Delgado will join her boyfriend, New York City Ballet soloist and resident choreographer Justin Peck, in New York.

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Miami City Ballet principal Patricia Delgado as Titania. Photo by Alberto Oviedo, Courtesy MCB.

To celebrate its 30th-anniversary season, Miami City Ballet is making a splash. The company's closing program this spring will transplant A Midsummer Night's Dream, Balanchine's 1962 full-length ballet, to the Florida shore, diving underwater for elements of the supernatural realm. Coral Castle, a romantic old-Miami landmark, provides the model for the court in this production. The ballet premieres tonight at the Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami.

“The reimagining gives us a great chance to mount a masterpiece with inspiration from the place where we live," says artistic director Lourdes Lopez. For years, Lopez has wanted to see this Shakespeare-based ballet, with sundry music by Felix Mendelssohn, as a new concept. Now, The George Balanchine Trust has approved her vision while counting on her to keep the choreography intact.

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Patricia Delgado in George Balanchine's Episodes. Daniel Azoulay, Courtesy MCB.

Onstage, Miami City Ballet principal Patricia Delgado is known for her artistic range. Outside of the theater, though, she's a bona fide cross-training queen. From hand weights to swimming to Gyrotonic, she's tried it all, and has found the perfect mix to maintain her petite but muscular 5' 4 1/2" frame. Strange as it may sound, Delgado owes her current strength to her past missteps. “I would say that any of my cross-training was triggered by injury," she says.

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Photo by Nathan Sayers for Pointe.

I turned up one morning to watch Eddie Villella's company class at Miami City Ballet, as I do most mornings when I'm in Miami, and there at the barre was a dancer I'd never seen before—a ravishingly beautiful girl with immense natural charm who was working as hard, or harder, than anyone else in the room. After watching her for 10 minutes I sidled over to Villella and whispered, “Who is that girl? She's a star! Give her everything!"

He's used to tolerating my enthusiasms, but it was also clear that he didn't totally disagree, even though he wasn't going to say so. Her name was Patricia Delgado, he told me. She was 17, and she was an apprentice at the company, where Villella is artistic director. When later in the day I said more or less the same thing to Linda Villella, Eddie's wife, who runs the company's school, she just laughed and said, “Wait till you see her sister, Jeanette. She's just as good!" I didn't believe it—until I saw Jeanette in action when she came along two years later.

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Daily class may feel like the proverbial grind—like eating your vegetables before you get to the good stuff. But professionals know better: Without class, there is no good stuff. Below, six top dancers describe how they make daily class work for them.

Patricia and Jeanette Delgado, Miami City Ballet

As dancers, the Delgado sisters are like night and day. Jeanette is an athletic powerhouse; Patricia is delicate, romantic and lyrical.


But the two share a remarkably similar approach to daily class. Taught almost every day by Artistic Director Edward Villella, the “dancey” 10 am session is mandatory, they say, but that’s for the better. “It’s nice. It connects the company,” Jeanette explains. “You inspire each other.”


Each turns to Gyrokinesis and yoga to warm up, and has gradually learned to take class more thoughtfully and carefully to protect themselves from injury. They also both shed their leg warmers early on. “I make sure I take off all my junk,” Patricia says. “I know my feet are not as articulated as they could be when I can’t see them.”


Both say their goals in class are pegged to the season. “If it’s a light day,” Patricia says, “I try to push myself really hard, define my legs, do combinations more than once to get my heart rate going, get into shape, build stamina and strength.” Before a performance, they often work on role-specific technique issues. Jeanette focused on quick feet and light legs for a week in class before she performed Balanchine’s Square Dance. When there’s a matinee, Patricia likes to do each exercise in her character’s mind frame. “I take class as Juliet if we’re doing Romeo and Juliet,” she says.


Apparently unaffected by even a touch of sibling rivalry, each is quick to point out the other’s strong work ethic. But for all their likenesses, the two are not identical. Patricia likes to stand in the front, near Villella, where she can pick up the combinations and not be distracted. Jeanette’s favorite spot?  Next to the piano. “Our pianist, Francisco, is very attentive,” she says. “He keeps you focused on the music. There’s so much to think about, sometimes you forget what’s most important—dancing to the music.”

Katita Waldo, San Francisco Ballet

When she first came to SFB, Katita Waldo was notorious for avoiding class. “I hated it!” she recalls. “I was lazy.”


Since then, her approach has changed dramatically. “I started to enjoy the process of checking in with my body every day,” she says. Now Waldo feels like she can hardly dance without taking class. “It’s like medicine,” she explains. “You take your medicine and then you’re prepared for the rest of the day.”


A fan of “bigger, fuller” movement, Waldo enjoys taking men’s class. She also only wears her pointe shoes for the first three or four exercises at the barre. “If you never wear anything but pointe shoes,” she says, “you never get used to dancing any other way. But I feel like beginning on pointe warms up my feet faster.” When Waldo knows she’ll be performing a piece that requires a specific skill, she uses class time to focus on that technique. To prepare for her debut in Alexei Ratmansky’s Russian Seasons earlier this year, for example, during barre and center she worked on articulating her feet and moving with control—“not my forte.”


When Waldo was younger, class was mostly about showing the teacher what she could do. Now, it’s more personal. With maturity—and injuries—came “hyper” self-awareness and a desire to better educate herself.  “Class is a constant exploration of how to use my muscles better and improve,” she says. “Constant.”

Irina Dvorovenko, American Ballet Theatre

ABT principal Irina Dvorovenko cannot overstate the importance of daily class. “Class is your alphabet,” she explains. “In ballet, we tell stories. Without the alphabet, you cannot tell a story.”


Dvorovenko tends to treat class like a mini-performance. When she was working on a new role in Balanchine’s Allegro Brillante last May, she tweaked class combinations so that they echoed Balanchine’s choreography. “It’s like putting beads on a chain,” she says. “Each class makes a difference. You have a whole collection in the end.”


For feedback in class, she turns to husband and fellow ABT principal Maxim Beloserkovsky. Each critiques the other in Russian—which sometimes leads to animated in-class arguments. But in the end, Dvorovenko says, it’s for the best. “We need to keep an eye on each other,” she explains. “If somebody isn’t paying attention, you get dust on you.”

Ariana Lallone, Pacific Northwest Ballet
After 22 years at PNB, Ariana Lallone knows the importance of class, thanks to early teachers Kent Stowell and Francia Russell. And as long as she’s dancing, Lallone says, she needs guidance. “I still want to work on my pirouettes, fouettés, jumping or the way the feet are articulated—whatever the class is working on. I have to be able to grow and change,” she says.


Lallone, who arrives 45 minutes early to tape her toes and stretch, generally does the entire class on pointe, although she will sometimes do a few barre exercises in flat shoes to work through her feet. “When I came to PNB’s school a number of years ago, all of the classes were on pointe,” she says. “I adapted to that and have done it ever since.”

While her approach to class hasn’t changed since her student days, she’s learned what her body can take—when she can push through, and when she should rein herself in. “It’s important to know your limitations,” she says.

Xiao Nan Yu, The National Ballet of Canada
Unlike many dancers, Xiao Nan Yu never holds back in class to save energy—even if she’s rehearsing or performing later in the day. “I need to go full out,” she says. “I find the less I do in class, the less I do onstage.”


To wake up her core muscles, Yu begins her pre-class warm-up with the Pilates 100. She then works on turnout, loosens up her feet and, just before class, stretches her hamstrings, back and glutes. Occasionally she alters her routine if she’s working on something specific.


“There are things I work on in class all the time,” she says. “You know your weaknesses.” That’s not to say that she finds class dull. “Every day is a challenge. From the tips of your fingers to the tips of your toes, you can always find a challenge for your body. That’s what makes class so interesting.”

Susan Chitwood has an MS in journalism from Columbia University.





Even without knowing their last name, it’s easy to tell that Patricia and Jeanette Delgado are sisters. They share the same appealing verve, but the contents of the two Miami-born Miami City Ballet principals’ dance bags have their distinctions. Some are more obvious than others. Both carry Lululemon dance bags, but different styles. “Mine has a place for sweaty clothes and tons of pockets,” says Patricia. And while they both keep their pointe shoes in a separate bag, for Patricia, the norm is 12 pairs, and for Jeanette, 8. What each sister can’t do without differs, too. For Patricia it’s the little black bag that contains her foot first-aid kit. For Jeanette, it’s her Luna bar. “I have an early breakfast, then class and three hours of rehearsal before lunch. After that first hour of rehearsal, I really need that bar,” says Jeanette. Neither dancer is superstitious, but Patricia relies on her iPod to keep herself grounded. “If I have a stressful rehearsal where I need to be calm, then I put my iPod on shuffle and tune everyone else out,” says Patricia. “It puts me in the moment.” What do they borrow from each other? “Sometimes sewing supplies. But I always know Patricia has her first-aid kit if I need something!” says Jeanette.

The Goods
Jeanette––Luna Bar, Traumeel (an anti-inflammatory ointment), folder for rehearsal notes and Yumiko dancewear info (she and another MCB dancer are reps for the leotards), cell phone (kept on vibrate), iPod; styling gel, hairspray, comb, pins, clips; Sigg limited-edition bottle from a Radiohead concert, deodorant, Sumbody vanilla body splash, pen, small mirror, make-up bag, scissors, rehearsal Don Q fan, corn pads, toe tape, pumice stone, 2nd Skin, foot massage ball, dental floss for sewing shoes, leg warmers, elastics to hold them up, Thera-Band, earring bag

Patricia––Bag with toe tape, corn cushions, toe spacers, 2nd Skin, moleskin, Neosporin; pen, sewing supplies, scissors, super glue, Sigg aluminum water bottle, tennis ball, foot massage ball, CryoDerm, Clif Builder’s Bars, journal, Anthropologie lip balm, Arnica tablets, Emergen-C, iPod, rehearsal CDs, CVS brand body splash, Burt’s Bees hand sanitizer, Traumeel; Thera-Band, plastic shorts, sweater, rehearsal Don Q fan, skirt

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