Ballet Careers
Eri Nishihara in Rex Wheeler's Symphonic Dances. Sarah Ferguson, Courtesy Richmond Ballet.

This is one of a series of stories on recent graduates' on-campus experiences—and the connections they made that jump-started their dance careers. Eri Nishihara graduated from University of Utah with a BFA in ballet performance in 2016.

As her time in high school drew to a close, Eri Nishihara knew she wasn't ready to dance professionally. She had seen dancers her age from other cities at summer intensives and didn't think that she was up to company caliber yet. "I didn't want to feel like I was having to keep up for a lack of training or experience, while adjusting to a new professional life," she says. Nishihara had trained with University of Utah professors in the past, through summer intensives at Ballet West, and felt that their teaching style would best prepare her for a future career.

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Ballet Careers
Ben Malone in Raymonda while at Richmond Ballet, and in his police uniform. From left: Sarah Ferguson, Courtesy Richmond Ballet; Courtesy Malone.

At age 15, Ben Malone made his Nutcracker debut in the party scene. But unlike many of his peers, dancing had not been his childhood dream. While other tiny tots aspired to tutus or tunics and can remember the days of being chin high to the barre, Malone dreamt not of costumes, but of a uniform. "I've thought about being a cop since I was quite young, maybe three or four," he says. "My mother [a federal prosecutor] worked very closely with law enforcement, so growing up I'd be running around her office and see the FBI agents and state police officers and think how cool they looked, and how I wanted to be like that someday." But before Malone dedicated his life to serve and protect, he found the thrill of the stage.

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Ballet Stars
Ben Malone

Whether she's working in the studio with Richmond Ballet or on her fashion blog, Felix & Flora, Lauren Archer's sartorial motto is "Fearless, feminine fashion." Archer's interest in fashion began when she was a little girl, and it took off two years ago when she began sharing her day-to-day looks on Instagram (@felixandflora). "I started my blog for fun, but I've been really passionate about creating new looks, finding new inspiration and reaching a new demographic," Archer says. "I want to encourage people to wear what they like and be less conscious of what others might think—at the end of the day, it's just an outfit."

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Trending
San Francisco Ballet principal Frances Chung with her dressing room pal, Iggy. Photo by Erik Tomasson, Courtesy SFB.

A dancer's dressing room is often her "home away from home." We went backstage with Boston Ballet principal Lia Cirio, San Francisco Ballet principal Frances Chung and Richmond Ballet dancer Cody Beaton to see how they personalize their space and get performance-ready.

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Everything Nutcracker
Lauren Archer with children at the "Signing Santa" event at the MacArthur Center in Norfolk, VA. Photo Courtesy Richmond Ballet.

Richmond Ballet dancer Lauren Archer never thought she'd be able to blend ballet with her knowledge of American Sign Language. But at a recent "Signing Santa" event at the MacArthur Center in Norfolk, Virginia, Archer—dressed as the Snow Queen from Nutcracker—got to make an extra-special connection with deaf and hard-of-hearing children. "Most of the parents and children were shocked to see that I was able to sign with them and that I wasn't just there for the pictures," Archer says. "I think the children loved meeting a real-life ballerina who was also able to communicate with them in their own language."

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News
Kansas City Ballet Dancers Tempe Ostergren and Dillon Malinski. Photo by Kenny Johnson, Courtesy KCB.

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


New Peter Pans at Ballet Austin and Kansas City Ballet

Never Never Land becomes a reality this week with two exciting new productions. Kansas City Ballet presents world premiere choreography by artistic director Devon Carney in Peter Pan May 11-20, while Texas audiences can experience the Austin premiere of Paul Vasterling's acclaimed Peter Pan May 11-13. We love this fun trailer that Ballet Austin put together.

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News
Richmond Ballet dancers in "An Open Later..." by Matthew Frain. Photo by Sarah Ferguson, Courtesy Richmond Ballet.

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


The Bolshoi Premiere of John Neumeier's Anna Karenina

Last July Hamburg Ballet presented the world premiere of John Neumeier's Anna Karenina, a modern adaptation on Leo Tolstoy's famous novel. Hamburg Ballet coproduced the full-length ballet with the National Ballet of Canada and the Bolshoi, the latter of which will premiere the work March 23 (NBoC will have its premiere in November). The production will feature Bolshoi star Svetlana Zakharova in the title role. This is especially fitting as Neumeier's initial inspiration for the ballet came from Zakharova while they were working together on his Lady of the Camellias. The following video delves into what makes this production stand out.

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Everything Nutcracker
Photo courtesy Richmond Ballet

How do you attract new audiences while keeping a dedicated following excited about classics they've seen countless times? Regional companies like Richmond Ballet, Houston Ballet, Boston Ballet and Tulsa Ballet all seem to be on the same page—bringing some of the ballet's biggest characters to life in the local community (and posting it all on social media, of course).

Just in time for the Nutcracker season, Richmond Ballet teamed up with The Richmond Flying Squirrels baseball team. Joining mascots Nutzy and Nutasha were Clara, The Nutcracker and The Mouse King, who threw in a few of their own rules on the field.

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Ballet Stars
Maggie Small as the Butterfly in Stoner Winslett's "The Nutcracker." Photo by Sarah Ferguson, Courtesy Richmond Ballet.

You've gone from Clara to Sugar Plum in one place. What made that possible?
I was lucky to grow up here, in a school that fed directly into a company, so as a child I could visualize exactly what I wanted. I think my career is due in part to being aware of how lucky I am, being grateful for it and preserving it.

What does it mean to be a "ballerina" in a non-ranked company?
It means you do it all. The last time we did Romeo and Juliet I was a harlot, and it was so much fun. If we did the same thing all the time it wouldn't be as stimulating or exciting.

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Ballet Stars
Courtesy Richmond Ballet.

A dancer's dressing room is often her "home away from home." In our August/September issue, we went backstage with three ballerinas, including Richmond Ballet dancer Cody Beaton. Below, she shows us how she personalizes her space and walks us through her pre-performance routine.

The setup: Richmond Ballet dancer Cody Beaton shares her dressing room with all the other women in the company, but she always stakes out the same spot. She lays a towel down on the counter to stay organized. "Otherwise everything spreads out."

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Ballet Stars
ABT's Calvin Royal III in Alexei Ratmansky's Serenade after Plato's Symposium. Photo by Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy ABT.

Miami City Ballet's National Tour

Artists of Miami City Ballet in Justin Peck's Heatscape. Photo by Gene Schiavone, Courtesy Miami City Ballet.

In late April at the Harris Theater, Chicagoans found Miami City Ballet firing on all cylinders, following the company's Lincoln Center debut and an engagement at Northrop in Minneapolis. Stage-filling Balanchine classics like Bourrée Fantasque, Serenade and Symphony in Three Movements struck a perfect balance between relaxed exuberance and clean execution, while seasoned stars like Jeanette Delgado and Renato Penteado shone in contemporary works by Justin Peck (Heatscape) and Liam Scarlett (Viscera), respectively. Most memorably, a dream team of 23 artists—including the irrepressible Nathalia Arja—gave a commanding presentation of Symphonic Dances, created for MCB by Alexei Ratmansky.

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Photo by Philip Koenig, Courtesy Kansas City Ballet.

The Kansas City Dance Festival, which mixes Kansas City Ballet members with performers from other companies, has significantly increased its programming since its 2013 debut. Now the festival is presenting its biggest season yet, bringing fresh choreography to Kansas City and new opportunities to the participating dancers.

This year features KCDF's first world premiere, choreographed by Garrett Smith. The lineup also includes ballets by Matthew Neenan and Vincente Nebrada. Festival dancers hail from KCB, Pennsylvania Ballet and Richmond Ballet, among other companies. The eclectic program gives KC audiences a chance to see new dancers and choreography, mixed with their hometown favorites.

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