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Angelina Vorontsova in the company's revival of "Cinderella." Photo by Stas Levshin, Courtesy Mikhailovsky Ballet.

Ella Persson remembers the rehearsals for her debut as Giselle. "I was in my first year with the company, and I started preparing with Mikhail Messerer during late evenings," the Mikhailovsky Ballet's Swedish-born coryphée says. "I was definitely not ready, but he gave me a chance to push myself and made me so much stronger, mentally and physically."

Under Messerer, the Mikhailovsky Ballet has carved a niche on the Russian and international stage by investing in coaching and dancers' growth. Unlike the older Mariinsky, St. Petersburg's second ballet company was only founded after World War I. But with a classically focused repertoire and productions that rotate onstage every month, it offers plenty of opportunities for talent to thrive.


Ballet master in chief Mikhail Messerer. Photo Courtesy Mikhailovsky Ballet.

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Viral Videos
Mr. Jeremy FIsher, from Sir Frederick Ashton's "The Tales of Beatrix Potter."

Animal roles might not typically be what dancers dream of performing…but they're oh-so-fun to watch. You can't help falling under their spell (and perhaps aspiring to dance one someday). Here's a round-up of some of our favorite furry and feathered roles.

Bunny Hop

Run. Dance in a circle. Pretend to be a rabbit. It might sound like a creative movement combo, but don't let that fool you. The role of Peter Rabbit in Sir Frederick Ashton's The Tales of Beatrix Potter requires fierce technique—not to mention the ability to project personality while wearing an animal head and fur suit.


Four-Legged Interlude

Who do you turn to for halftime entertainment during a quartet of fairy variations? Dancing lizards, mice and a frog of course! This charming quintet of creatures light up the stage in David Bintley's Cinderella.

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Osipova Guest Stars

Twenty-three-year-old Bolshoi dynamo Natalia Osipova, known for her buoyant jump and vibrant stage presense, will appear as a guest artist with American Ballet Theatre during its spring season at the Metropolitan Opera House dancing Giselle and La Sylphide. Visit abt.org for more information. --MF

 

Ratmansky's On the Dnieper Premieres

Since last fall's announcement that Alexei Ratmansky--who recently stepped down as artistic director of the Bolshoi Ballet--would become American Ballet Theatre's resident choreographer, audiences have eagerly awaited his first work for the company. Will his creations for ABT rival the two ballets he's made so far for New York City Ballet--particularly the acclaimed Concerto DSCH?

Soon, they'll have an answer: ABT performs Ratmansky's new staging of On the Dnieper, a little-known Prokofiev piece, during the first weekk in June.  On the Dnieper is the highlight of an all-Prokofiev program that also features the company's premiere of James Kudelka's Desire and a revival of Balanchine's Prodigal Son (which will give ABT a chance to show off some of its spectacular male dancers--Ethan Stiefel, Angel Corella and Herman Cornejo are all cast in the title role). www.abt.org --MF

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