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#TBT: Johan Renvall in Memoriam

Johan Renvall, a virtuosic former principal dancer at American Ballet Theatre, died last week at the age of 55. Born and trained in Sweden, Renvall danced with ABT from 1978 to 1996. He found his niche in contemporary premieres by the likes of Twyla Tharp and Agnes de Mille, in 20th century classics like Antony Tudor's emotive Dark Elegies, and in bravura male solos like the Golden Idol variation in La Bayadère.


In addition to his technical brilliance, Renvall's charisma as a performer was undeniable, and it's evident in this clip from the 1988 TV movie Dance. From the simplest tendu with a slight cambré to a tour en l'air landing in a swooping arabesque, he moves with an effortless fluidity. I love that he seems to dance from the inside out. Renvall's graceful port de bras propels him into sailing pirouettes and soaring jetés, and he sustains the energy of every step—turn, leap or lift—to the end of each limb. During his career, he celebrated his roots with starring guest roles at the Royal Swedish Ballet and expanded his horizons with his own choreography for companies including his own touring troupe. Gone too soon, Renvall's memory will remain as luminous as his dancing.

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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Courtesy Apolla

Ballet dancers today are asked to do more with their bodies than ever before. The physical demands of a ballet career can take an immense toll on a dancer's joints and muscles—subjecting them to pain, inflammation and an increased risk of injury. Considering all that is required of today's dancers, having a top-notch recovery regime is paramount.

Enter Apolla Performance Wear, which is meeting ballet's physical demands with a line of compression footwear that is speeding up the recovery process for professional dancers by reducing inflammation and stabilizing the joints.

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News
The Washington Ballet's NEXTsteps program opens this week. Here are company dancers Ashley Murphy-Wilson and Alexandros Papajohn. Procopio Photography, Courtesy The Washington Ballet.

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

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News
Ballet West in rehearsal for Le Chant du Rossignol. Beau Pearson, Courtesy Ballet West.

Ballet West opens its season October 25–November 2 with a triptych of works from George Balanchine's early choreographic career with Sergei Diaghilev's Ballets Russes. Highlighting the program is Balanchine's 1925 The Song of the Nightingale (Le Chant du Rossignol), never before seen in the U.S. This ballet is not only the first piece that a then-21-year-old Balanchine made for the Ballets Russes; it also marks his first collaboration with Igor Stravinsky, and features costumes by Henri Matisse. To bring it to Salt Lake City, Ballet West is working closely with Millicent Hodson and Kenneth Archer, who reconstructed the work for Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo in 1999.

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