The Best Of Both Worlds

Every country seems to have its own flavor of ballet technique. The English are beloved for their pure, delicate classicism, the Americans for their powerful attack. This March, dainty met dynamic for a dance-off when The Royal Ballet School’s third-year graduate class traveled to New York to perform on a shared bill with ABT II.

For both sides, it proved an eye-opening experience. “The RBS students incorporate their whole body when they dance,” says ABT II’s Alys Shee. “It’s not just ‘here are my arms, here’s my head.’ In every step, they move in one piece.” RBS students, on the other hand, spoke of wanting to gain some of the ABT II dancers’ willingness to take risks. “By the time I’m done thinking, ‘Oh, I don’t know if I can do this,’ the Americans will have already finished it!” says RBS student Brandon Lawrence. “They really jump on the steps.”

While preparing for their joint performance, the dancers took daily classes together from ABT artistic director Kevin McKenzie, RBS director Gailene Stock and other artistic staff. The New Yorkers also showed their British counterparts around town, taking them sightseeing and leading shopping trips to the Gaynor Minden and Yumiko stores. “It was fantastic because we were all in it together, two separate groups putting on a performance as one,” says Shee. Act Two of the exchange takes place during the 2011–12 season, when ABT II flies across the pond to visit the Royal students in London.


Latest Posts


Complexions Contemporary Ballet's Tatiana Melendez Proves There's No One Way to Have a Ballet Career

This is Pointe's Fall 2020 cover story. Click here to purchase this issue.

Talk to anyone about rising contemporary ballerina Tatiana Melendez, and one word is bound to come up repeatedly: "Fierce." And fair enough, that's a perfectly apt way to describe the 20-year-old's stage presence, her technical prowess and her determination to succeed. But don't make the mistake of assuming that fierceness is Melendez's only (or even her most noteworthy) quality. At the core of her dancing is a beautiful versatility. She's just as much at ease when etching pure classical lines as she is when boldly throwing herself off-balance.

"Selfish choreographer that I am, I want Tatiana to stay with Complexions for all time," says her boss Dwight Rhoden, Complexions Contemporary Ballet's co-artistic director and resident choreographer. "She has a theatricality about her: When the music comes on, she gets swept away." Not too shabby for someone who thought just a few years ago that maybe ballet wasn't for her.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Cheryl Mann, Courtesy Joffrey Ballet

2020 Stars of the Corps: The Joffrey Ballet's Dara Holmes

A seasoned dancer, Dara Holmes' career with The Joffrey Ballet has consisted of a lot of heavy lifting in the ensemble. "As a new company member, I was onstage all the time," says Holmes, 28. "The older you get, the more you start to appreciate your body and want to preserve it. If I want to keep dancing and do bigger roles, I need to be healthy."

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Jeremy Kyle, Courtesy Laubacher

My First Month as a Professional Dancer in the Age of COVID-19

I moved to Eugene, Oregon, in August, brimming with nerves and excitement to launch my career as an aspirant with Eugene Ballet. After months of quarantining at home in Pittsburgh because of the coronavirus lockdown, transitioning to my new life on the West Coast marked a rapid shift. But in time, it granted me newfound feelings of security. For starters, the ritual of filling up my water bottle, packing my shoes and leotard, putting up my hair and walking into the studio reintroduced a much needed flow of normalcy into my life.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks