The Joffrey Goes Latin

The Joffrey Ballet of Chicago recently hired nine new dancers—and they’re a notably diverse group, hailing from Cuba, Venezuela and Brazil, as well as the U.S.

“I want the company to reflect Chicago’s diversity, and I was conscious of the Joffrey’s past, when dancers like Chilean Maximiliano Zomosa were part of the troupe,” says Artistic Director Ashley Wheater. “Also, because the Joffrey is a no-stars-yet-all-stars company, I was, as always, looking for talented, hardworking people.”

Of the three new international dancers, two approached Wheater on their own. Cuban-bred Miguel Blanco, who was also offered contracts by ABT and San Francisco Ballet, opted for the Joffrey because, as Wheater puts it, “he knew he would get a chance to really dance with us.” Yumelia Garcia, whom Wheater describes as “a real spitfire,” was born in Caracas but grew up in Rockford, IL, and went to see Wheater at the urging of her friend, Joffrey dancer April Daly. Ricardo Santos de Paula, from Rio de Janeiro, was a bronze medalist at the 10th New York International Ballet Competition, for which Wheater served as a judge. De Paula earned the NYIBC’s Arpino Award, which comes with a one- year Joffrey contract. —Hedy Weiss

The Conversation
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Yos Clark, of Africa's Ivory Coast. Courtesy Ballet Rising.

From his home in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, an eight-year-old boy named Yos Clark discovered ballet from the film Un, Dos, Tres, and began teaching himself to dance through videos. A teacher in France saw photos of Yos dancing online, and taught him over Skype because the studio in Abidjan was too long of a commute for him to train there on a regular basis. Apparently, the lessons paid off; last year, Yos received a scholarship to continue his training in Warrington, England.

Dancers like Clark are what propel former Dutch National Ballet principal Casey Herd recently; since leaving the company three years ago, Herd has become determined to shed light on the lesser-known stories of dancers making it around the world. Now, he and his friend and colleague Chris Weisler are creating a documentary project called Ballet Rising. Together they have been transversing the globe, searching for people embracing ballet. (Since the series is still in development, a premiere date is TBA.) Between stops, Pointe touched base with Herd over the phone to learn about the project, where his travels have taken him so far, and what his hopes are for the future of global ballet.

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I got professionally fitted and my shoes were fine in the store. Now in class, the vamp is digging into my foot in demi-pointe and the heel is sliding off. Is it the size, the width or both? —Mandi

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If you're making your weekend plans, you may want to clear your calendar for Sunday and check your local movie listings. On May 19, Fathom Events, in partnership with Pathé Live and By Experience, is broadcasting the Bolshoi Ballet's performance of Carmen Suite and Petrushka throughout cinemas nationwide. The program will be captured live the same day from Moscow, and feature some of the Bolshoi's biggest stars.

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Still Courtesy Design Army

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