#TBT: Karen Kain and John Meehan in The Merry Widow

 

There’s something to be said for onstage chemistry—you certainly can’t believe in a love story without sensing it between the lovers! In this clip from the National Ballet of Canada’s 1987 televised performance of The Merry Widow, the electricity between the wealthy widow Hanna, played by former NBoC principal Karen Kain, and Count Danilo, danced by then American Ballet Theatre principal John Meehan, is palpable. The two characters, former lovers, find themselves thrust together after many years apart as part of an elaborate marriage scheme. And in Kain and Meehan’s playful performance, you sense their shared history—the way he arches his brow and holds his hand out expectantly for her, the way she side-glances knowingly and teasingly resists. With exuberant tosses of the head, they let their guards down, their flirtations betraying past hurts and signaling the reconciliation to come. It’s obvious these two are still in love, all thanks to Kain and Meehan’s authentic connection.

 

Since leaving the stage, both have made huge contributions to the ballet world. Kain, long understood as one of NBoC’s biggest stars, now leads from the front of the studio as the company’s artistic director. Meanwhile, Meehan went on to direct the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, the American Ballet Theatre Studio Company and Hong Kong Ballet, and now serves as chair of Vassar College’s Dance Department. Happy #TBT!

Francisco Estevez, Courtesy Colorado Ballet Academy

When you're looking for a ballet program to take you to the next level, there are a lot of factors to consider. While it's tempting to look for the biggest name that will accept you, the savvy dancer knows that successful training has more to do with the attention and opportunities you'll get.

We put together a few of the most important things for dancers to look for in a summer or year-round training program, with the help of the experts at Colorado Ballet Academy:

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Everything Nutcracker
Pennsylvania Ballet demi-soloist Thays Golz as the Sugar Plum Fairy during a stage rehearsal for George Balanchine's Nutcracker. All photography by Arian Molina Soca.

For many professional ballet dancers, Nutcracker means weeks of performances. That usually translates to multiple casts—and important breakout opportunities for those in the junior ranks. On the afternoon of December 13, Pennsylvania Ballet demi-soloist Thays Golz made her debut as the Sugar Plum Fairy along with her Cavalier, corps member Austin Eylar. For the Brazilian-born dancer, who joined PAB in 2018 after two seasons at Houston Ballet, Sugar Plum marks one of her first principal roles.

"I'm really excited," says Golz. PAB artistic director Angel Corella appointed 12 casts of Sugar Plum Fairies over the run's 29 performances. "When I first found out, I was like, 'Pinch me!' I still can't believe it."

We caught up with Golz just before her debut to see how she prepared for her big break.

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Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy US Prix de Ballet

The US Prix de Ballet is taking an unconventional approach to the ballet competition—by putting the competitors' health first. After a successful first year in 2018, the Prix is returning to San Diego, CA this February with an even more comprehensive lineup of wellness workshops and master classes, in addition, of course, to the high-level competition.

Though the talent is top-notch, the environment is friendly, says HARID Conservatory faculty member Victoria Schneider, who serves on US Prix de Ballet's elite panel of judges. "The wellbeing of the dancer is the main focus," says Schneider, who awarded three scholarships to HARID at last year's competition.

US Prix de Ballet was born after its founders traveled to the Japan Grand Prix International Ballet Competition in 2016. "The company ran every aspect of the competition with professionalism, dignity, honor and precision," says founder Neisha Hernandez. "We knew we wanted this level of experience for America."

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