News

Onstage This Week: World Ballet Day 2019, John Heginbotham Makes Ballet Debut, and Houston Ballet Comes to NYC!

The Washington Ballet's NEXTsteps program opens this week. Here are company dancers Ashley Murphy-Wilson and Alexandros Papajohn. Procopio Photography, Courtesy The Washington Ballet.

Wonder what's going on in ballet this week? We've rounded up some highlights.


World Ballet Day 2019 Is Here!

Like us, you might feel like every day is World Ballet Day, but that doesn't mean we're not excited for the all-day live stream event coming our way on Wednesday October 23. This year's edition is co-hosted by three major international companies—The Royal Ballet, The Australian Ballet and The Bolshoi Ballet—but it also features streams from over 30 companies worldwide including Hong Kong Ballet, Paris Opéra Ballet, English National Ballet and Pacific Northwest Ballet. Check out the Facebook pages for World Ballet Day, The Royal and Australian Ballet for up-to-date information, schedules and links to the streams.

John Heginbotham Breaks Into Ballet

The Washington Ballet opens its fall season with NEXTsteps, a program devoted to world premieres. October 23–27, the company performs works by a diverse pool of choreographers: Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, Jessica Lang and John Heginbotham.

While Ochoa and Lang are ballet-world veterans, Heginbotham is new to the scene. "John is one of the most creative, musical and theatrical choreographic voices today," says TWB artistic director Julie Kent. A former member of the Mark Morris Dance Group, Heginbotham most recently choreographed the innovative Broadway revival of Oklahoma! His new ballet will be a palindrome in movement and in music, using a suite of high-energy and quick-moving percussion quartets composed by Jason Treuting of So Percussion and played live. —Cadence Neenan

Hosuton Ballet Onstage at New York City Center

Seldom seen on the East Coast, Houston Ballet heads to New York City Center this week with a triple-bill program. The October 24-26 run features two New York premieres: Mark Morris' 2015 The Letter V and Justin Peck's 2019 Reflections. Also on the docket is Aszure Barton's all-male Come In.

ABT Fall Season Closes With Two Premieres and a Homecoming

American Ballet Theatre's fall Lincoln Center season closes October 27, but not before throwing another two premieres our way. October 23 marks the world premiere of former ABT dancer Gemma Bond's A Time There Was and the New York premiere of company principal James Whiteside's The New Romantics.

On October 26, ABT honors Herman Cornejo, who is celebrating his 20th anniversary with the company this year, with a special performance including a pièce d'occasion. Cornejo will be joined by his sister, former ABT soloist and Boston Ballet principal Erica Cornejo, for a performance of Ana María Stekelman's 1998 El Chamuyo.

Ballet Fantastique is Tutu Spooky

Ballet Fantastique co-directors Donna and Hannah Bontrager present the world premiere of Nevermore: Stories of Edgar Allan Poe October 25–27 in Eugene, Oregon. The ballet features some of Poe's most macabre and best-loved stories and poems, with original music played live by local folk orchestra Mood Area 52.

Boston Ballet Provides a Platform for Company Choreographers

October 24-25, Boston Ballet presents BB@home, an intimate black box theater performance that offers company members a chance to present their choreography. This year's program, ChoreographHER, features new works by six female Boston Ballet dancers: Lia Cirio, Chyrstyn Fentroy, Lauren Herfindahl, Sage Humphries, Abigail Merlis and Joy Womack. Learn more about the ChoreograpHER initiative in the above video.

Cincinnati Ballet Presents Septime Webre's "The Wizard of Oz" 

Last year, Colorado Ballet, Kansas City Ballet and Royal Winnipeg Ballet joined forces to produce Septime Webre's new The Wizard of Oz. This week, the yellow brick road extends to Ohio; Cincinnati Ballet presents the full-length ballet for the first time October 25-November 3. Catch a glimpse of rehearsal above (and check out this video of the company's wardrobe department bedazzling Dorothy's shoes).

Sarasota Ballet Opens Its Season with a Tribute to Ricardo Graziano

The first program of Sarasota Ballet's 2019-20 season runs October 25-27. Titled Graziano, Retrospective, it's a tribute to principal dancer and resident choreographer Ricardo Graziano's 10th anniversary with the company, and features three of his original works: Shostakovich Suite (2011), En las Calles de Murcia (2015) and In a State of Weightlessness (2015).

Ballet Careers
Lenai Alexis Wilkerson. Christopher Duggan, Courtesy Michelle Tabnick Public Relations.

This is one of a series of stories on recent graduates' on-campus experiences—and the connections they made that jump-started their dance careers. Lenai Alexis Wilkerson graduated from University of Southern California with a BFA in dance (dance performance concentration) and a political science minor in 2019.

As Lenai Alexis Wilkerson looked at colleges, she wanted a school that would prepare her for two totally different professions: dancing and law. "I knew, pretty much when I was 16, that I wanted to go to law school," she says. "So I wanted the opportunity to have a dual college experience, where I could have a conservatory training style within a university and I could focus equally on my academics." When she auditioned for the inaugural class of University of Southern California's Glorya Kaufman School of Dance, she knew it was the right fit.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored by Ballet Arizona
Tzu Chia Huang, Courtesy Ballet Arizona

These days, ballet dancers are asked to do more than they ever have—whether that's tackling versatile rep, taking on intense cross-training regimens or managing everything from their Instagram pages to their summer layoff gigs.

Without proper training, these demands can take a toll on both the mind and the body. But students can start preparing for them early—with the right summer intensive program.

The School of Ballet Arizona's summer intensive takes a well-rounded approach to training—not just focusing on technique and facility but nurturing overall dancer growth. "You cannot make a dancer just by screaming at them like they used to," says master ballet teacher Roberto Muñoz, who guests at the program every summer. "You have to take care of the person as well."

Keep reading... Show less
News
Nicolas Pelletier in Carmina Burana. Francisco Estevez, Courtesy Colorado Ballet.

Last week, Colorado Ballet interrupted Nutcracker rehearsals for an exciting announcement: Four dancers were being promoted. Though all made the jump from the company's corps de ballet, Nicolas Pelletier ascended directly to the rank of soloist, while Sean Omandam, Emily Speed and Melissa Zoebisch were promoted to demi-soloist. This news comes hot on the heels of last August's promotion of Francisco Estevez to principal.

Keep reading... Show less
Courtesy School of Pennsylvania Ballet

While many of us are deep in Nutcracker duties, The School of Pennsylvania Ballet director James Payne has been looking further ahead, finalizing preparations for the school's summer intensive programs. In January, he and his staff will embark on a 24-city audition tour to scour the country for the best young dancers, deciding whether or not to offer them a spot—maybe even a scholarship—in the school's rigorous 5-week intensive focused on high-caliber ballet instruction. Though he'll be evaluating aspirants, he urges that as a student, you should be equally selective in choosing programs that could galvanize your training—and possibly even your career.

We got Payne's advice on strategizing your summer intensive plan before the audition cycle kicks in:

Keep reading... Show less