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#TBT: Rudolf Nureyev and Alla Sizova’s Corsaire Graduation Performance

Can you imagine completing your spring showcase performance and being handed a soloist contract by your dream company? That is precisely what happened to Rudolf Nureyev and Alla Sizova in 1958, and this clip is from that very performance. The opening section of Le Corsaire's famous pas de deux displays Sizova's beautiful lines and Nureyev's attentive partnering. Things really heat up, however, in the variations. Nureyev falters a little landing the first jump, but the raw power and energy he became famous for doesn't. Sizova swapped the usual choreography for the Queen of Dryads variation from Don Quixote—and she completely defies gravity. Those leaps! (She eventually earned the nickname “Flying Sizova.") Even during the horrifically difficult Italian fouettés into double en dedans pirouettes, her expression remains radiant.


After the performance, Sizova walked away with a soloist contract with the Kirov Ballet (now known as the Mariinsky) where she soon became a principal. Nureyev received offers from both the Kirov and the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow. He settled on St. Petersburg, and the pair frequently partnered together before Nureyev defected in 1961. Happy #ThrowbackThursday!

Ballet Stars

What do Diana Vishneva, Olga Smirnova, Kristina Shapran and Maria Khoreva all have in common? These women, among the most impressive talents to graduate from the Vaganova Ballet Academy in recent years, all studied under legendary professor Lyudmila Kovaleva. Kovaleva, a former dancer with the Kirov Ballet (now the Mariinsky), is beloved by her students and admired throughout the ballet world for her ability to pull individuality and artistry out of the dancers she trains. Like any great teacher, Kovaleva is remarkably generous with her wealth of knowledge; it seems perfect, then, that she appears as the Fairy of Generosity in this clip from a 1964 film of the Kirov's The Sleeping Beauty.

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Sponsored by BLOCH
Courtesy BLOCH

Today's ballet dancer needs a lot from a pointe shoe. "What I did 20 years ago is not what these dancers are doing now," says New York City Ballet shoe manager Linnette Roe. "They are expected to go harder, longer days. They are expected to go from sneakers, to pointe shoes, to character shoes, to barefoot and back to pointe shoes all in a day."

The team at BLOCH developed their line of Stretch Pointe shoes to address dancer's most common complaints about the fit and performance of their pointe shoes. "It's a scientific take on the pointe shoe," says Roe. Dancers are taking notice and Stretch Pointe shoes are now worn by stars like American Ballet Theatre principal Isabella Boylston, who stars in BLOCH's latest campaign for the shoes.

We dug into the details of Stretch Pointe's most game-changing features:

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Ballet Careers
Ali Cameron, Courtesy Queensland Ballet

An artistic director's position was far from Li Cunxin's mind when the Brisbane-based Queensland Ballet came calling in 2012. Since his retirement from the stage in 1999, the Chinese-Australian dancer had embarked on a highly successful career at the helm of a stockbroking firm. His wife, former dancer and current Queensland ballet mistress Mary McKendry Li, changed his mind, Li remembers. "She said, 'Wouldn't it be nice to give something back to the art form that we both have benefited so much from?' "

Seven years later, Li's contribution has been dramatic. Queensland Ballet, once a struggling choreographer-led company, has become one of Australia's most exciting repertoire ensembles, with Liam Scarlett on board as artistic associate. The budget has more than quadrupled, to over $20 million USD, and Li has launched not one but three major construction projects, with world-class headquarters, a theater and a new academy all in progress.

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News
Gene Schiavone, Courtesy Boston Ballet

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

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