The Power of Plot

Story ballets are back. On Monday, when the Joffrey Ballet announced a $500,000 challenge grant from Chicago’s Rudolf Nureyev Dance Foundation to develop new full-length narrative works, it felt like a tipping point. A company best known in recent decades for its abstract contemporary repertoire, the Joffrey’s new grant steers it toward a different model, and signals that storytelling has returned to the creative mainstream.

Of course, ballet has been rediscovering narrative for a while. This year alone, three of the most exciting choreographers in the field—Christopher Wheeldon, Alexei Ratmansky and Wayne McGregor—have turned their talents to storytelling. Both Wheeldon and Ratmanksy have created new versions of Cinderella (Wheeldon for San Francisco Ballet, Ratmansky for The Australian Ballet) and Wayne McGregor debuted his haunting fable of metamorphosis, Raven Girl, at The Royal Ballet. Will any of them have the enduring power of a Giselle or a Swan Lake? Or will audiences tire of them, and the pendulum swing back again to a more abstract idiom? Time will tell, but meanwhile, the Joffrey grant is a potent reminder that ballet remains a great way to tell a story.

Latest Posts


Maria Kochetkova. Darian Volkova, Courtesy Kochetkova

Maria Kochetkova on How COVID-19 Affected Her Freelance Career, and Her New Home at Finnish National Ballet

When international star Maria Kochetkova embarked on a freelance career three years ago, she never envisioned how a global pandemic would affect it. In 2018, the Russian-born ballerina left the security of San Francisco Ballet, a company she called home for more than a decade, for the globe-trotting life of a guest star. Before the pandemic, Kochetkova managed her own performing schedule and was busier than ever, enjoying artistic freedom and expanding her creative horizons. This all changed in March 2020, when she saw her booming career—and her jet-setting lifestyle—change almost overnight.

After months of uncertainty, Kochetkova landed at Finnish National Ballet, where she is a principal dancer for the 2020–21 season. Pointe spoke with her about her time during the quarantine and what helped her to get through it, her new life in Helsinki, and what keeps her busy and motivated these days.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
DTH's Alexandra Hutchinson and Derek Brockington work out with trainer Lily Overmyer at Studio IX. Photo by Joel Prouty, Courtesy Hutchinson.

Working Out With DTH’s Alexandra Hutchinson

Despite major pandemic shutdowns in New York City, Alexandra Hutchinson has been HIIT-ing her stride. Between company class with Dance Theater of Harlem and projects like the viral video "Dancing Through Harlem"—which she co-directed with roommate and fellow DTH dancer Derek Brockington—Hutchinson has still found time to cross-train. She shares her motivation behind her killer high-intensity interval training at Studio IX on Manhattan's Upper West Side.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Getty Images

As Ballet Looks Toward Its Future, Let's Talk About Its Troubling Emotional Demands

As a ballet student, I distinctively remember being told that to survive ballet as a profession, one must be exceptionally thick-skinned and resilient. I always assumed it was because of the physically demanding nature of ballet: long rehearsal hours, challenging and stressful performances, and physical pain.

It wasn't until I joined a ballet company that I learned the true meaning behind those words: that the reason one needs thick skin is not because of the physical demands, but because of the unfair and unnecessary emotional demands.

Undoubtedly, emotional and physical strength go hand in hand to some extent. But the kind of emotional demand I am talking about here is different; it is not the strength one finds in oneself in moments of fatigue or unwillingness. It is the strength one must have when being bullied, humiliated, screamed at, manipulated or harassed.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks