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We've Fallen Head Over Heels for Fall for Dance Festival's Ballet Premieres

Honji Wang and Sara Mearns. Photo by Brooke Trisolini, Courtesy of Jacob's Pillow Dance.

We all know that seeing world class dance is expensive. But for two weeks a year New York City Center offers $15 tickets to their Fall for Dance Festival. This magical unicorn of an experience features five unique programs and will run from October 2-14.

The program includes five world premieres commissioned specifically for the Festival, three of which feature some of our favorite ballet superstars.

Program One (Oct. 2-3) will showcase a new work by choreographer and New York City Ballet soloist Troy Schumacher on 14 dancers from Miami City Ballet. While rehearsals are still in progress, we do know that the piece will be a meditation on childhood set to Francis Poulenc's Concerto for Two Pianos in D Minor.


Troy Schumacher in rehearsalPhoto by Kyle Froman for Pointe


Program Four (Oct. 11-12) includes No. 1, a duet for Honji Wang and New York City Ballet principal Sara Mearns, choreographed by Wang and her partner Sébastian Ramirez. Work by the duo, known as Company Wang Ramirez, often focuses on identity (Wang was raised in Germany by Korean parents; Ramirez is French), and infuses hip hop with elements of martial arts, ballet and theater. Early footage from rehearsals at Jacob's Pillow Dance (a co-comissioner) from earlier this summer certainly whets our appetites for more.

Another exciting collaboration is a solo created by renowned modern dance choreographer Mark Morris for American Ballet Theatre principal David Hallberg. The piece, entitled Twelve of 'em, is set to live piano and will showcase costumes by high fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi as part of Program Five (Oct. 13-14). Morris is known for highly musical, complex and sometimes humorous choreography—we can' t wait to see what his work will look like on Hallberg.

In addition to these world premieres, the Festival will feature the New York premiere of Christopher Wheeldon's Rush for Pennsylvania Ballet, Alexei Ratmansky's Souvenir d'un lieu cher for four ABT dancers, Helgi Tomasson's Concerto Grosso for San Francisco Ballet and Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo's Paquita.

In case that's not enough, Wendy Whelan will be giving a master class to advanced dancers on October 14 as part of the Festival. So pull out your calendars—tickets go on sale at 11:00 am on Sunday, September 10, and they're sure to go quickly.

The Conversation
Ballet Stars
Angela Sterling, Courtesy PNB

Your teacher at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, Marcia Dale Weary, recently passed away. What impact did she have on you?

I feel deeply indebted to her. She shaped my life's course, and I know that were it not for her, I would not be living out my dream today. She led by example through her remarkable commitment to her work, as well as her genuine kindness and generosity.

You were a trainee with San Francisco Ballet. What was that experience like?

It was an exposure to different schools of thought. We were mostly in the full-lengths, and watching run-throughs of Sleeping Beauty and Don Quixote was revolutionary for me. But I was young and far away from home. That transition was hard. My body started changing. It wanted to be fleshy. Biology is cruel in that way. I desperately wanted to fit in, but it wasn't meant to be.

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Do you ever wish you could teleport to London and casually stroll into The Royal Opera House to see some of the world's best-loved ballets? Well, we have a solution for you: The Royal Ballet's 2018-19 cinema season.

Whether live or recorded, the seven ballet programs listed below, streaming now through next October, will deliver all of the magic that The Royal Ballet has to offer straight to your local movie theater. Can you smell the popcorn already?

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Left: Misa Kuranaga in The Veritginous Thrill of Exactitude. Gene Schiavone, Courtesy Boston Ballet. Right: Sasha Mukhamedov in Apollo. Altin Kaftira, Courtesy Dutch National Ballet.

San Francisco Ballet just announced some major news: longtime Boston Ballet star Misa Kuranaga will be joining the company as a principal dancer for the 2019-20 season, while Dutch National Ballet principal Sasha Mukhamedov has been hired as a soloist. They join a slew of newly promoted SFB principals and soloists, announced earlier this year.

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Xiao Nan Yu in company class. Aaron Vincent, Courtesy National Ballet of Canada.

On June 22, National Ballet of Canada principal Xiao Nan Yu will retire from the stage after 22 years with the company. Originally from Dalian, China, Yu studied at the Shen Yang School of Dance and the Beijing Dance Academy before coming to Canada's National Ballet School at age 17. She joined the National Ballet of Canada less than two years later, and was promoted to principal in 2001.

"She is a supreme dance actress with an innate ability to bring the audience into her world," says NBoC artistic director Karen Kain. "Nan has always brought such a calm confidence into the studio and has been a role model for so many dancers I will miss her generosity both inside the studio and out." We spoke with Yu as she prepared for her final week of performances. She opened up about her initial culture shock upon moving to Toronto, her thoughts on artistry and why she chose Hanna Glawari in The Merry Widow as her final role.

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