#TBT: ABT’s Sallie Wilson in Fall River Legend

The sweltering, humid heat of a Northeastern summer can make even the most good-natured person act, well, hot-headed. This would be an understatement in describing Lizzie Borden, the woman from Fall River, Massachusetts, who allegedly hacked her parents to death with a hatchet in 1892. The case was a media sensation, and it's no surprise that choreographer Agnes de Mille—known for portraying American themes in her ballets like Rodeo—chose the story for a stage adaptation.


Fall River Legend premiered at American Ballet Theatre in 1948. De Mille took some artistic liberties, choosing a gruesome ending for Borden's character. In real life, Borden was acquitted; in de Mille's ballet she is convicted and hanged, and there's a subplot involving her unrequited love with the town minister. In this clip, late ABT dancer Sallie Wilson plays the doomed woman and dances a short pas de deux. The character's psychological stresses are visible in Wilson's skilled acting: her chin is lifted aloofly, her gaze sweeps without really seeing, her fists beat, her hands reach and her dance is almost ungainly (though still fluid and technically strong). Wilson was known for her dramatic roles at ABT, and we find her Lizzie Borden interpretation particularly chilling. Happy #ThrowBackThursday!

Summer Intensive Survival
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There's a sweet spot toward the end of August—after summer intensives have wrapped up and before it's time to head back to school or work—where the days are long, lazy and begging to be spent neck-deep in a pile of good books. Whether you're looking for inspiration for the upcoming season or trying to brush up on your dance history, you can never go wrong with an excellent book on ballet. We've gathered eight titles (all available at common booksellers like Amazon and Barnes and Noble) guaranteed to give you a deeper understanding of the art form, to add to your end-of-summer reading list.

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James Yoichi Moore and Noelani Pantastico warm up onstage. Angela Sterling, Courtesy SDC.

On a sunny July weekend, hundreds of Seattle-area dance fans converged on tiny Vashon Island, a bucolic enclave in Puget Sound about 20 miles from the city. They made the ferry trek to attend the debut performance of the fledgling Seattle Dance Collective.

SDC is not a run-of-the-mill contemporary dance company; it's the brainchild of two of Pacific Northwest Ballet's most respected principal dancers: James Yoichi Moore and Noelani Pantastico. The duo wanted to create a nimble organization to feature dancers and choreographers they felt needed more exposure in the Pacific Northwest.

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Roman Mejia in Robbins' Dances at a Gathering. Erin Baiano, Courtesy NYCB.

The Princess Grace Foundation has just announced its 2019 class, and we're thrilled that two ballet dancers—New York City Ballet's Roman Mejia and BalletX's Stanley Glover—are included among the list of über-talented actors, filmmakers, playwrights, dancers and choreographers.

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The Royal Ballet's Alexander Campbell and Yasmine Naghdi in Ashton's The Two Pigeons. Tristram Kenton, Courtesy ROH.

While most ballet casts are 100 percent human, it's not unheard of for live animals to appear onstage, providing everything from stage dressing to supporting roles. Michael Messerer's production of Don Quixote features a horse and a donkey; American Ballet Theatre's Giselle calls for two Russian wolfhounds; and Sir Frederick Ashton's La Fille Mal Gardee requires a white Shetland pony. Another Ashton masterpiece, The Two Pigeons, is well known for its animal actors. But though ballet is a highly disciplined, carefully choreographed art form, some performers are naturally more prone to flights of fancy—because they're birds.

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