Teen Vogue's "Strictly Ballet" Heads to Miami

Teen Vogue’s “Strictly Ballet” is back. The popular web series, which took us inside the lives of School of American Ballet students last year, heads to Florida and into the halls of the Miami City Ballet School. The show, which premiered May 20, follows seven MCBS dancers between ages 14 and 21, and from countries ranging from Brazil to Russia. Each faces the agonizing question of whether they’ll be successful in their chosen profession. This week, three more episodes were released on Condé Nast Entertainment’s web channel, The Scene.

 

In episode 7, Valeriia, who trained at the Vaganova Academy before coming to MCBS, feels she has nothing to go back to in Russia. Unable to secure a contract there, she asserts that she simply has to get into a company in America—there’s no room for the contemplation of “or else.” However, she and her peers face one the harshest realities of a ballet dancer’s life: when you are on the cusp of your professional career, a single director’s whim may determine your whole future. In an audition with over one hundred people, how do you get one pair of eyes to notice you? In a studio video recording, how do you make your personality and the unique subtleties of your dancing come across on camera?

 

You can check out Valeriia’s story, as well as how she puts together her audition video, below. And make sure to check out The Scene to catch up on all other episodes of "Strictly Ballet." (Hint: episode 4 features Pointe’s April/May cover girl, Nathalia Arja.)

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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