Promotions

Congratulations!

Ballet is always changing, and companies are these living, breathing, organisms made up of individuals with unique personalities and their own stories. And then, every once in a while, one of those individuals stands out just a little more than the rest, and then like a dream come true: you are promoted.

So, let’s take some time and acknowledge some of the amazing promotions that have happened for the upcoming 2019-2020 season. Starting with the San Francisco Ballet under Helgi Tomasson: three amazing promotions happened. Esteban Hernandez has been promoted to principal dancer; and Madison Keesler Cavan Conley were promoted to soloist.

Miami City Ballet under Lourdes Lopez announced their largest roster with the addition of ten dancers bringing their company number to 53. Promotions include Alexander Peters being promoted to Principal; and Emily Bromberg, Shimon Ito, and Chase Swatosh were promoted to principal soloists. But that might not be Miami’s BIG NEWS. Their big news announced that Carlos Quenedit returning to Miami City Ballet, YouTuber, Kathryn Morgan will be joining as a soloist, and Principal Dancer from Los Angeles Ballet, Bianca Bulle is taking a step down to join the corps de ballet at Miami. (It seems to be a trend to move from Los Angeles Ballet to Miami City) 

Photo: Alexander Peters

Boston Ballet Artistic Director Mikko Nissinen announces sevendancer promotions for the 2019–2020 season. Second Soloists Chyrstyn Fentroy, Lawrence Rines,  and Addie Tapp have been promoted to the rank of s oloist.  Artists María Álvarez, DawnAtkins, Emily Entingh, and Matthew Slattery have been promoted to second soloists.

Artistic Director Terrence S. Orr has promoted two corps de ballet dancers to the rank of soloist for Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s 50th Anniversary Season, which runs from October 2019 to May 2020.

Dancers Marisa Grywalski of Columbus, Ohio and Corey Bourbonniere of Woonsocket, Rhode Island, will begin their first mainstage season as soloists this fall with PBT’s 50th Anniversary Season opener Giselle, on stage Oct. 25-27 at the Benedum Center.

Houston Ballet announces Artistic Director Stanton Welch AM has promoted Nozomi Iijima to the rank of Principal. Formerly a First Soloist, Iijima has been promoted after she ferociously danced the title role in Sylvia. This well-deserved promotion adds to the continued excitement of Houston Ballet’s whirlwind of spring productions during its 2018/19 season. 

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Another New Ballet Company comes to Florida

Joseph Gatti, Marcelo Gomes, Rasta Thomas, Elias Baseman, Matthew Golding and a few others  are teaming up and taking on Orlando. Artistic Director and Founder of United Ballet Theatre, Joseph Gatti has brought in a slew of men and a blonde bombshell, Chloe Sherman for a new work by Marcelo Gomes. This “equation” looks familiar, right? Yes, and it could be because Executive Director James L. Boyd III, is at the head? He is also the former producer for Rasta ThomasRock the Ballet. Rasta Thomas will serve as a guest artist.

united ballet theatre

Excited to see the work they will be premiering. Marcelo Gomes recently left ABT after a sexual misconduct allegation. He then had his documentary premiered, and set a new work with less exciting reviews for Julie Kent‘s Washington Ballet. This would be his first full year venturing out as a choreographer and transitioning out of the “dancer” title.

So what will this mean for dancing state of Florida? Adding another company to Florida’s long list of companies including Joseph Gatti’s former employer, Robert Hill’s  Orlando Ballet. (Orlando Ballet is currently searching for a new Executive Director, the third one in like five years…) As their website is still new, you can see the list of artists joining up with Mr. Gatti.

Regardless, any company that is creating jobs should be applauded. 

Best of Luck United Ballet Theatre!! We are watching!

 

It is time to start nominating & voting

It is time to start nominating your favorite dance companies for A Ballet Education’s Company Awards!!

best ballet companies 2018

Okay everyone, it is time to start compiling data and preparing for YAGP finals… Which means I will be MIA for a little bit as we compile date for the TOP TEN LISTs. But, it is time to start nominating your favorite performances, performers, companies, teachers, designers, and productions!! You can write as much or as little as you want, vote for multiple companies and people, we will count them all!

Voting Closes June 2, 2018

RESULTS WILL BE PUBLISHED IN ISSUE 12 IN THE BIG TEN ISSUE

A Ballet Mindset…

Hey ABE readers, guess what? Guest post. I think this book is really relevant to ballet dancers both professional and training. Sometimes we get lost in our work and sometimes we don’t know where to turn, or you just want a good read… So here is my friend Andrews new book.

andrew kendall author self help dark dictionary“Hey! My name’s Andrew Kendall, a friend of David’s, and 2017 was a life changing year in which a sixteen year old dream was realized—I published my first book. I know that ballet can be a very demanding field. And with demand can often come darkness. In The Dark Dictionary I offer advice to not only combat your inner darkness, but to alter your mindset in such a way that you bring to light the kind of awareness that has the ability to change your life. And when we think about it long enough we’re able to realize that there’s always light in the dark—always a silver lining to discover in the midst of both your creative process and dedication to the art. In a way our minds are a mirror, reflecting back to us our deepest desires or worst nightmares, but when it’s the latter it’s never too late to discover that we no longer have to be a slave it to anymore. With a new year almost upon us, most us of will be looking to start the year of right—with a mindset strong enough to conquer anything thrown our way. If this is you I hope you’ll check out my book. If you ever feel lost, which most of us do, I believe that we are always much stronger than we believe—a message I truly hope to convey within every page.” – Andrew Kendall, author of The Dark Dictionary

Follow me on Insta: AndrewwRichard

To buy his book on Amazon click below

10 Ballet Movies You Should Own…

There has been quite a great amount of exceptional ballet out there lately… and thankfully a lot of it has been recorded on film. Here are my 10 movies that I truly do enjoy… and have purchased. I reference them for style, for technique, for inspiration, and just to enjoy. Most of them are recent featuring dancers we all know and drool over. Click to shop.

New York City Ballet in Paris (Specifically for Sara Mearns in Walpurgisnacht and Everyone in Symphony in C)

Royal Ballet featuring a whole lot of goodness… Iana Salenko, Federico Bonelli, Carlos Acosta, Sarah Lamb, Steven McRae, Marinela Nunez…. do I need to say more?

Gala of the Stars… Basically everyone…

Royal Ballet’s Anastasia…

Royal Ballet’s Frankenstein… Liam Scarlett’s new full length ballet in partnership with San Francisco Ballet.

Marco Spada featuring Evguenia Obraztsova and Olga Smirnova, Semoin Chudin and Igor Tysvirko.

Mariinsky takes on Balanchine’s Jewels with the flawless Ulyana Lopatkina.

ABT: A History is a really inspiring movie and ridiculously well filmed.

The Turning Point will never get old… never.

And either will Center Stage…

 

The Top Ten Ballet Companies (2017 Edition)

Top 10 Ballet companies 2017

Ballet is progressing at such a fast rate that it seems impossible to keep up with all of the changes. This year, the idea of ballet has shifted even more. From spectacular premiers and wondrous PR Campaigns, ballet truly has a lot to honor this year. Every ballet company has something to offer the world, and nowadays, prestige or reputation isn’t enough. So, without further adieu, a Ballet Education’s TOP TEN BALLET COMPANIES 2017 EDITION.

1.The first company this year is English National Ballet for their premiere of Giselle. Sculpted by female artistic director Tamara Rojo, English National Ballet premiered their work of Akram Kahn’s Giselle. This has probably been the most innovative work the ballet world as seen in a long time. From primal movements to a new score, this new ballet captures the fundamentals of raw human emotions.


More info on Akram Khan’s Giselle: http://giselle.ballet.org.uk/

2 + 3 Royal Ballet & San Francisco Ballet // Liam Scarlett’s Frankenstein
http://www.roh.org.uk/about/the-royal-ballet
http://sfballet.org

4. New York City Ballet // Justin Peck’s The Times are Racing

http://nycballet.com

5. Het National Ballet // Night Fall

6. Staatsballett (Berlin)

7. Bolshoi Ballet

8. American Ballet Theatre

9. Paris Opera Ballet

10+11. The Australian Ballet, National Ballet of Canada

You can read more about these companies in the magazine by clicking here.
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A Night to Remember: Dance Theatre of Harlem

There are three types of quality dance performances. The first type of dance performance is the typical performance, strong technique, beautiful sets, and lavish costumes. It is entertaining, strong and shows how together or in sync the corps and powerful a company is and it is everything that dance should be. The second type of dance performance is one that demonstrates the companies ability to move identically. Whether it was curated by a director’s guidance or a school’s aesthetic, this type of performance is geared towards a specific look to achieve a very specific artistic goal, thought or portray and idea. Then finally, there is the third type of performance, and of the three, it is the rarest: the performance that moves your soul.

(cover photo by Ashley Lorraine Baker)

I was privileged enough to have the later experience this Friday night in little old Tucson, Arizona at the University of Arizona’s Centennial Hall. The company, Dance Theatre of Harlem under the legendary, power player Virginia Johnson. If you don’t know who she is, she is dance royalty and probably most known for her Giselle. If you aren’t familiar with Dance Theatre of Harlem’s history, it was founded in 1969 by NYCB legend Arthur Mitchell. Dance Theatre of Harlem made a come back after hiatus in 2012, and now employs sixteen diverse, beautiful dancers of color.
dance-theatre-of-harlem-ua-presents

The house was sold out, the crowd was interested in ballet of color, as the majority of the audience as older and white. The conversation around me was ignorant but pleasant. A woman in front of me was commenting to her friends that this wasn’t real ballet but entertaining ballet. Whatever that meant, I wasn’t going to start something with a tiny old lady. It didn’t matter, I was there to see a part of ballet history that is near and dear to my heart. I was lucky enough to get tickets, very good tickets. The lights dimmed, and the show began.

The program included Vessels by Darrell Grand Moultrie, Chaconne by José Limón, Dancing on the Front Porch of Heaven; Odes to love and Loss by Ulysses Dove, and Return by Robert Garland. As the entire program was spectacular, there was a lot to be said about each piece. The dancing was brilliant, Ingrid Silva shined in Mother Popcorn, the opening movement of Return. Her plush skin and metallic side cut out costume created quite the mood to this James Brown, Alfred Ellis, Aretha Franklin and Carolyn Franklin piece. The company showed off their feel good attitude and pulled incredible tricks. The three women who danced the Ulysses Dove piece were beyond gorgeous. Their striking white costumes, extreme hyperextension and beautiful feet created gorgeous lines. I don’t think the majority of the audience knew what was happening, but it was quite moving. Chaconne was the test of Da’Von Doane, as this Limón solo is quite long and involves solid promenades. Doane had beautiful moments, but it lacked a sense of abandonment or self-reflection. His redeeming moments were Return. Alison Stroming was captivating, intense and inspiring in Dancing on the Front Porch of Heaven. 

But the piece, that truly stole the night was Vessels.

Anytime a man and woman stand on stage it creates a story. Vessels created an intimate feeling of beauty that left me speechless and gave me a profound sense of pride. I was proud to be sitting, watching different dancers of color with different body types, technique, perform and move beautifully. The first section was breathtaking danced by five couples creating individual love stories. It reminded me of my life, different loves, different feelings, different relationships but all under the same concept. The second section was inspiring as four beautiful women blew across the stage. The score by Elio Bosso was beyond gorgeous, literally gorgeous. The lighting design by Clifton Taylor was so beautiful, it was art in itself. The costumes are by George Hudačko. The third section, Love, was danced by Stephanie Rae Williams and Francis Lawerence. This was probably the jewel of the entire evening. The pas de deux was so beautifully choreographed, and so beautifully executed, I teared up. The last time I cried at a dance performance was watching New York City Ballet’s Jewels a few years back. This pas de deux was so spectacular that the audience was silent and roared into applause when it ended. I attended the evening’s performance with a Ballet Education contributor Ashley Baker, and she couldn’t stop raving about Stephanie Rae Williams. Either could I. She literally stole the night.

She was engaging, captivating, technically wonderful and engaged. It was more incredible as she replaced a dancer that evening for the pas de deux. Francis Lawrence was a strong partner that I fell in love with. Watching him partner was beautiful, and more importantly creating those intimate moments with a new partner was wonderful. Williams also performed the pas Baby Baby Baby in Return with Chong Hoon Lee and got the entire audience hot and bothered. It was sexy, soulful and wonderful. It was the most beautiful evening of dance I have experienced in a long time.

dance-theatre-of-harlem-2017
Final Bows… Photo by Me. xoxo

 

Dance Theatre of Harlem truly is a magnificent work of art. The combination of ethnicity, power, strength, beauty and diversity is a testament and hope for the future of colored dancers. The only thing that would have made the night more perfect, is seeing some of the original Balanchine roots. It would have been nice to see this small company perform Balanchine’s Divert since you need five couples. And the five couples of Vessels proved that they could probably dance anything. Despite the company having diverse training, diverse bodies, and ethnicity the company embodied the spirit of movement, the technicalities of ballet, and the freedom of expression that is dance.

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Watch Dance Theatre of Harlem in NYC:
http://www.dancetheatreofharlem.org/newyorkseason

Please support this wonderful company and donate today:
https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/DTH

To Learn More about the Artist of DTH:
http://www.dancetheatreofharlem.org/company/dancers

And the envelope please… a Ballet Education’s Ballet Awards 2016

ballet awards

Each year as the season ends a history disappears. As a dancer, it means that the applause is over, that all of your hard work, hours of rehearsals, performances and stage time is gone… There is nothing left, there is no reliving the moment… Ballet is a performance art, so every performance is different, every moment is special. So, it is our job was ballet goers and ballet fans to celebrate a year of hard work. So before we go on about our favorites and all that jazz… Here is a huge round of applause to every dancer, artistic director, board member, stage hand, dresser, costume designer, lighting designer, usher, ticket person and more… everyone who was involved in making the ballet season around the world happen…. You are incredible and important in the giant cogwheel that moves ballet forward, innovates the art form, and allows dancers to share their art.

These blog awards were started as a result of having a very hard time ranking companies.I think it is easier to rank schools. But companies we are looking at artistry, and for that, we have to evaluate innovation, musicality, acting abilities and the ability to become something else… The ability to inspire and move audiences… performances to remember and so on…. Thus, I decided to create awards based on categories I think are relevant… I also just like the Oscars and the idea of pretty awards.

If you don’t know how it works… Each season I read tons of reviews and I see tons of ballet performances… Obviously, I am not flying around the world to see everything but I do read a lot and respect the opinions of other bloggers, publications, and reviewers. I also have the help of thousands of followers and ballet go-ers nominating and sending in reviews, comments, and nominations… From these, I kind of narrow it down and ask opinions of friends, colleagues and more… This allows me to decide who gets the award. Next year, it will be even better because if you subscribe to the magazine, you will actually get to vote on the top nominees in each category to select the winner alongside our editors.

This year has been another turning point for ballet… For race it has been a big deal, as Misty Copeland is truly becoming the face of Ballet in America making her rightfully the next American Ballerina, a long-standing position, usually by an ABT or NYCB darling. Other American Ballerinas in this history include Susan Jaffe, Darci Kistler, and Julie Kent and now we have Misty Copeland. This year was also a great year for choreography and innovation as premiers were happening left and right and almost impossible to keep up with. While the world of choreographers, artistic directors, and school directors are still dominated by men we look forward to a larger female presence in these jobs in this upcoming season. This year was spectacular and dancers around the world enhanced the art form, pushed the technique, and mastered the human body.

So, without further adieu, the envelope, please…


The first award of the night acknowledges our blog awards. It goes to any dancer, any company, any choreographer that our readers email about, have reviewed or have requested to see more of the blog. And this year there is a clean sweep. So I have combined categories into one award and this year’s a Ballet Education’s Blog Award goes to… BALLET WEST. With readers nominating Beckanne Sisk and Chase O’Connell for their pas de deux in Romeo and Juliet back in February… For requests to feature/opinion the company and school at Ballet West, and our readers favorite for the most follow-ups, shares, and comments on a blog post: CORPS DE BALLET CONFESSIONAL: Elizabeth Weldon. With much pleasure, they will be featured soon on our blog! Click here for more information on Ballet West. I promise I will go visit Ballet West this season and answer all of your questions…

A BALLET EDUCATION AWARD


COSTUME, SET, or LIGHTING DESIGN… and the award goes to:
Ian Falconer for the scenic and costume Designer for PNB’s New Production of George Balanchine’s the Nutcracker.


OTHER NOMINEES:
Lighting Design for Mammatus, Joffrey Ballet by Alexander V Nichols
Lighting design by David Finn for PNB’s Signature- editor’s pick Colette Posse
Set Designer John Macfarlane for Royal Ballet’s Frankenstein.
Design team behind  A Hero of our Time, Elana Zaitseva, Krill Serebrennikov, Simon Donger
Design team behind Teatro La Scala’s Cinderella: Carlo Cerri, Maurizio Millenotti, Carlo Cerri, Alessandro Grisendi, Marco Noviello


Best Reprisal of a Classic Work
American Ballet Theatre for La Fille Mal Gardée
(choreography by Fredrick Ashton,music by Ferdinand Herold, design by Osbert Lancaster, lighting by Brad Fields)
Click here for Synopsis

Other Nominees worth noting: English National Ballet’s Le Corsaire and  PNB’ take on George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker.


Student of the Year
Joohyuk Jun, Royal Ballet School* winner of YAGP

Robbie Downey, BalletFreak/ Ballet Babble, Ellison
Hang Yu, China *winner of prix de lausanne*
Madison Young, Houston Ballet
Vincenzo di Primo, Italy
BallerinaAnna, SAB, owner of BunFlowerz
Kim, Hee Sun, South Korea *winner of the Helsinki IBC*
Kennedy Kallas, Ballet West *winner of the Natalia Makarova Award for Excellence*


Best Pas De Deux Couple
Iana Selenko (guest) & Steven McRae (Royal Ballet)

Video not from this year, but you kind of get to see the amazingness of the them…

Other Nominees in this huge category:
Missa Kuranaga (Boston Ballet) and Gonzalo Garcia (guest), Swan Lake
Beckanne Sisk (Ballet West) and Chase O’Connell (Ballet West), Romeo and Juliet*
Alessandra Ferri (guest) and Herman Cornejo (ABT), Giselle
Gillian Murphy (ABT) and Marcello Gomes (ABT), Swan Lake
Isabella Boylston (ABT) and Jeffrey Cirio (ABT), La Fille Mal Gardee
Polina Semoinova (guest) and Roberto Bolle (La Scala) , Cinderella
*winner of our blog favorite, picked by the readers of a Ballet Education*


Dancer of the Year
Kimin Kim, Mariinsky *won the prix de benois de la danse for the current year*

Honorable mentions from the huge list of dancers nominated
Anthony Huxley, NYCB
Hannah O’Niell, Paris Opera *also won the prix de benois de la danse for the current year*
Sara Mearns, NYCB
Alicia Amatriain, Stuttgart *also won the prix de benois de la danse for the current year*
Isabella Boylston, ABT
Iana Salenko, Berlin State Ballet
Olga Smirnova, Bolshoi Ballet
Misty Copeland, ABT
Steven McRae, Royal Ballet
Fredrico Bonelli, editor’s pick- David King


Company Contribution to the World
no nominations… sad face.



New or Returning Presence to the International Ballet Scene
Kathryn Morgan.
Presented by Ballet in the City and Bloch at the Kennedy Center
If you don’t follow her, she is a former soloist at NYCB, who was on the high rise to becoming a principal dancer when illness struck and took her away from ballet. Her blog and video blog exploded and now she is a ballet guru.
Click here for her massive empire

hon. mention: Alessandra Ferri returning to ABT’s Met Season in Romeo and Juliet. It is happening right now, and is coming in with killr reviews.


Choreographer of the Year
Yuri Possokhov, A Hero Of Our Time for Bolshoi *won the prix de benois de la danse*

Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, Mammatus for Joffrey
Justin Peck, multiple works
Travis Wall, multiple solo works
Alexi Ratmansky, Golden Cockerel, multiple works
Christopher Wheeldon, multiple works
Andrew Bartee
Myles Thatcher, Passengers
Mauro Bigonzetti, Cinderella for La Scala
Johan Inger, Carmen
Benjamin Millepied, Clear Loud Bright Forward for Paris Opera
Maxim Petrov, Divertissement of King for Mariinsky
Zhang Yunfeng, Emperor Yu Li
Garrett Smith
Guilherme Maciel


Most Innovative/Collaboration Company
New York City Ballet for their designer collaborations for their fall Gala, and for their collaboration with resident Dior Illustrator Jamie Lee Reardin.

Other Nominees:
Het/Dutch National Ballet
National Ballet of Canada for Le Petit Prince
Royal Sweedish Ballet
Stuttgart Ballet
Miami City Ballet
Australian Ballet
Bolshoi Ballet


Best Repertory for the 2015-2016 season
Het Nationale Ballet, Artistic Director Ted Brandsen

Thier next season looks pretty amazing as well…

For tickets…

Other Nominees:
Australian Ballet
Paris Opera Ballet
Royal Ballet
New York City Ballet
American Ballet Theatre
Stuttgart Ballet
Wiener Staatsoper
Semper Oper


Most Inspiring Company
Australian Ballet, editor’s pick Jacquelyn Bernard

Other Nominees:
Boston Ballet
Pacific Northwest Ballet
San Francisco Ballet
Bolshoi Ballet
Het National Ballet
New York City Ballet


And now for the final category, which I think is the strongest to represent a company as a reflection of the season. The Best Premiere of a New Work in the 2015-2016 season. To really produce a new work, these dancers are the first, they originate the roles, the emotions, the technique and the approach. It is a sign of innovation in a company, and the willingness to find new ways of moving, approaching the classics, and innovating the art form. It is also a huge collaboration between everyone involved in ballet, from the marketing and press to the dancers, choreographers, designers and audience… A new work is the true test of a company’s ability to innovate and be successful. It is always a risk to premiere a new work, as audiences might not be so keen on attending without a big name attached… But, this season we had amazing contributions to the ballet repertory and here are the nominees…

  • Royal Ballet in collaboration with San Francisco Ballet, Frankenstein, choreographed by Liam Scarlett, Music by Lowell Liebermann, Designer John Macfarlane, Lighting designer David Finn, and Projection designer Finn Ross. (May 17, 2016)

http://www.roh.org.uk/productions/frankenstein-by-liam-scarlett

  • National Ballet of Canada’s Le Petit Prince, based on the book by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, choreographed by Guillaume Côté, Composed by Kevin Lau, Sets and Costumes by Michael Levine, Lighting by David Finn, and Video design by Finn Ross. Creatively developed by Guillaume Cote and Michael Levine. (June 4, 2016)

http://national.ballet.ca/Productions/2015-2016-Season/Le-Petit-Prince

  • Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Signature, choreographed by Price Suddarth, Lighting design by Randall G Chiarelli, Costumes by Mark Zappone. (November 6, 2015)
  • Joffrey Ballet’s Mammatus choreographed by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa. Music by Michael Gordon, design work by DieuwekeVanReu, lighting design by Alexander V. Nichols
  • American Ballet Theatre’s The Golden Cockerel, original choreo by Michel Fokine and new choreography by Alexei Ratmansky, sets and costumes by Richard Hudson. Music by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov and arranged by Yannis Samprovalakis
  • Bolshoi Ballet’s a Hero Of Our Time choreographed by Yuri Possokhov, music by Ilya Demutsky, costume design by Elana Zaitseva and Kirill Serebrennikov, lighting and video design by Simon Donger.

http://www.bolshoi.ru/en/performances/813

And the winner is…
TEATRO LA SCALA



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THE TOP TEN BALLET SCHOOLS (2016)

top ten ballet schools 2016
It is an Olympic year, and like all major competitions, there are favorites going in. Favorites that are based on long-standing wins, countries that have dominated certain sports, and underdogs that have risen to the make the Olympic team… But these are not the Olympics… This is ballet.

Ready, set, go… Like any race or any competition, there is anticipation, adrenaline, and favorites. It is the mindset of the competitive human nature, survival of the fittest, or whatever you want to call it that causes ballet to evolve. No one will ever admit it, but it is true… Every school, every ballet company, everyone in ballet is always trying to show one up. Without this unspoken competition, ballet would not evolve… It even happens in the classroom, one person does 3 pirouettes, and another will attempt 4 to get approval, to get a nod, or get a correction… “Anything you can do, I can do better…” It is that mindset that ferociously drives ballet competitions, and how a dancer performs in the classroom. Most dancers claim to only compete with themselves, but that is a lie… They are also competing against the hundreds of other ballet dancers out there, hoping to get a job, or a spot at a top school… It is just like applying for colleges.

Every June, shortly after all of the schools have their year end performances, and after major companies announced their new rosters, I sit with a large cup of coffee and write. Before I go into the lists, which if you are that anxious for you can scroll down and skip this. There has to be some clarification about these lists… They are solely based on my opinions and statistics that I gather. And, yes I am extremely biased, but I am extremely honest… But there is something greater than just ballet schools and the alumni they produce… This year and the next few will prove, that the power of the ballet competition is becoming a stronger power player, now more than ever. Additionally, the power of social media is influencing the tides of the ballet world and you must wonder, how this is going to affect ballet as a whole. In fact, it has already started…

But this year was a spectacular year in the world of Ballet Schools and Ballet Competitions… and as a result the list it has shifted the list from last year…

1. Royal Ballet, London, ENGLAND (ballet school/ finishing school)… This year Royal Ballet’s graduating class kicked ass… No one could touch their graduating class, even if they combined with ABTII, Royal Ballet’s graduating class was close to flawless. With their students joining top companies around the world, I believe every one of their graduates landed a decent contract… Not to mention one of their students won the YAGP. But this is no surprise as Royal Ballet Upper School is filled with competition winners, their upper levels are always made up of international competitors. This school, even though the lower school is amazing, the reality is, that the upper school is a finishing school for exceptional technicians. (click here for the school) (Last year’s graduating class contracts…)

2. Vaganova Ballet Academy, Saint Petersburg, RUSSIA (ballet school/finishing school) has had a bangin’ year for their graduates. Their lower classes have a stunning group which is actually kind of diverse in ethnicity… More now compared to before. Social media superstars attending the academy from Japan, Italy, the US and more… This is probably credited to their principal/director Nikolai Tsiskaridze and his recruiting and social media exposure of the technique. (Website, but kind of sparse)

3. Escuela Nacional de ballet de Cuba, Havana, CUBA(ballet school/finishing school): This school has always been known for making powerhouse dancers, especially men. And for some reason their men are some of the best turners in the world. It is insane. (website)

4. John Cranko School, Stuttgart, GERMANY (ballet school/ finishing school) Pretty much hardcore Vaganova ballet training except it is supplemented with amazing modern and contemporary technique… Making it one of the best schools in the world, and a reason why prize winners from competitions choose that school. (website)

5. Bolshoi Ballet Academy, Moscow, RUSSIA (ballet school/ finishing school)- It is motherland Russia… do I have to say more? Bolshoi Ballet Academy is actually the Moscow State Academy of Choreography and is the affiliate school of Bolshoi. They are also partnered with the US to host summer programs here, and is affiliated with other schools around the world, including Brasil. (US Website)

6. Small schools all over Japan (ballet School) These schools are killing it at competitions and making a mark in the Asian market of ballet training.

7. Houston Ballet Academy, Houston, Texas USA (finishing school): Houston Ballet Academy has grown over the past two years… I mean they have always been known to recruit incredible leapers and turners… but over the past two years Houston Ballet has been cranking out American dancers left and right with impeccable Americanized Russian technique… Truthfully, again I have never been to the school, or observed the full school… but it is on my list of things to do this year. Houston Ballet seems to be the only American school at the moment who is infiltrating the European market and European Competitions. (website)

8. Ellison Ballet School, NYC, New York, USA (ballet school) is definitely making waves in the ballet world, and they are producing a ridiculous sum of professional and pre-professional dancers. It seems everyone wants to go to this school now, and has definitely come a long way since my post two years ago. It is turning into one of the top schools in NYC and in the world. (website)

9. School of American Ballet, NYC, New York, USA (finishing school): Despite everyone always being so upset that SAB is always placed extremely high on the list… This year, wasn’t that impressive… But I will defend that their technique may not be classical ballet, but it is ballet and curriculum creates musical, precise and interesting dancers. (website)

10. Scuola di Ballo del Teatro alla Scala, Milan, ITALY (ballet school): Argued as the second oldest ballet school in the world, the students from La Scala are much like the students of POB. They only want to dance for their home country, but this year’s graduates seem to be spreading their wings and heading all over.(website)

Other schools that were considered:

National Ballet School, Canada
Australian Ballet School, Australia
Royal Danish School, Denmark
Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, USA
Ballet Academy East, USA
Sunhwa Arts Academy, South Korea
Real Conservatorio Profesional de Danza Mariemma, Spain
JKO School, USA
The Rock School,USA
Vienna State Opera Ballet School, Vienna
Paris Opera Ballet School, France
San Francisco Ballet School, USA
Princess Grace of Monaco Academy, Monte Carlo
Master Ballet Academy, Arizona, USA
and others…

top ten us ballet schools

And finally, here is the list of the TOP TEN schools in the US for 2016. (In no particular order)

  1. School of American Ballet (SAB)
  2. Houston Ballet Academy (HBA)
  3. San Francisco Ballet School (SFB)
  4. Ellison Ballet School*
  5. Boston Ballet School (BB)
  6. Pacific Northwest Ballet School (PNB)
  7. Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet*(CPYB)
  8. Master Ballet Academy*
  9. Jacquelyn Kennedy Onassis School (JKO)
  10. Ballet Academy East* (BAE)

*not affiliated with a major company

 

Now, by nature, and by history the following schools have regarded as the best schools in the world. They are the big hitters, those who have contributed to ballet history, and those who have contributed the greatest ballet stars. And for those who wondered what these schools are they are, in no particular order:

TOP 10 BALLET SCHOOLS IN THE WORLD BY HISTORY

  1. Paris Opera Ballet School
  2. Royal Ballet School
  3. Vaganova Ballet Academy
  4. Bolshoi Ballet Academy
  5. John Cranko School
  6. The School at National Ballet of Cuba
  7. School of American Ballet
  8. Scoula di Ballo del Teatro la Scala
  9. The School at Royal Danish Ballet
  10. National Ballet School, Canada

SHOP A BALLET EDUCATION


 

This Summer I will be teaching at Ballet Phoenix! For more information click here.
teacher workshop

START YOUR NOMINATIONS!

ballet awards best ballet companiesWith the ballet season unfolding, and the 2016-2017 season being announced… it is time to start nominating the best of the best from around the world…. Feel free to either comment for your nominations or write into aballeteducation@gmail.com

Awards to be announced in July.

 

 

 

The categories are for the 2015-2016 Season

Best Premiere of a New Work

Best Repertory for the 2015-2016 Season

Best Reprisal of a Classic Work

Best Costuming for a performance

Best Lighting and/or Set Design

Best Collaboration

Most Innovative Company

Most Inspiring Company

Company Contribution to the World

New or Returning Presence to the International Ballet Scene

Best Pas De Deux Couple

Dancer of the Year

Student of the Year

Choreographer of the Year

AND THE OSCAR GOES TO… the top 10 ballet companies in the world

With the Oscars around the corner, it means it is time for a Ballet Education’s award season. With that about to happen, after two years of hesitantly writing a list of actual top ten companies… I have given in.

top ten ballet companies
A lot of you have asked if I could rank the top ten ballet companies in the world… And so, because I am so obliging to your requests, sure, why the hell not. I have postponed this post because a lot of things get factored in when looking at a company:

The Caliber of Dancer: where they have trained, artistic merit, technical achievements.
The Size of the Company, good things come in small packages sometimes, a lot of the times. Larger companies though employ more dancers, so from a financial or economic standpoint, that is a factor.
The Repertory, both current and old. Repertory feeds the dancer’s soul and sells tickets. Is the company innovating?
Going on tour: Is it a home company or touring company? That is a significant factor too. Touring companies have a lot of worldwide recognition, and home companies have a stable audience.
Does the company have a school that feeds the company creating a lasting relationship between the young community and the current ballet audience?
What is good ballet? That is probably the most subjective… but that can always be defined by the real question of, “What is Ballet… Today.”

So… if we look at what ballet is today, it is isn’t this rigid fairytale designed by composers and directors. It has evolved so much more than that. Nowadays, ballet is encompassed by what can be defined as neo-classic, and a lot of contemporary (as in works being done today) works. The current ballet vocabulary is expanding, and because ballet vocabulary has always set the standard for dance… Thanks to the codification of ballet in France… It has always been that way… But now, the language of dance is melding with cultural references and different genres, it is exploring new depths of music or the lack thereof, and the ability to transpire a new quality of dancing.

If by definition of the art form, classical ballet is the art of constraint.
Then neoclassical ballet would be that of the 20th century, so Balanchine, DeMille, Graham, Robbins
And if current or contemporary ballet is that of Tharp, Forsythe, Kylian, Neumeier, Wheeldon, Ramatansky, Elmo, etc
And if the future of ballet is being defined by Peck, Thatcher, Simkin and Cirio then we can classify these companies quicker.

But unfortunately, there are really only five ballet companies that set the tone of the ballet world and here is the reason why:

The Paris Opera Ballet: they set the tone for turnout and the foundations of technique. Paris Opera employs 150 dancers and takes residency between Palais Garnier and the Bastille Opera House.

The Bolshoi Ballet (or interchange it with any random Russian company that hires from Vaganova School): they set the tone for Adagio and body type. The breeding ground for Russian superstars, the feeder school to Bolshoi is BBA but the rivaled Russian companies are fed by Vaganova Academy.

The Royal Ballet: they set the tone for technical powerhouses, turns/jumps. Prix winners go there to build a name for themselves. Takes residency at the gorgeous Covent Garden.

The New York City Ballet: they set the tone for musicality, speed and new works. Residing at Lincoln Center, the only American Company that resembles and performs as much as a European home company.

Nederlands Dans Theatre: they set the tone for innovation and new ways to move. Between the first and second companies, the two employ 46 of the most fundamentally interesting dancers in the world. Originally founded by Jiri Kylian and now under the Artistic Directorship of Paul Lightfoot, this company is always pushing the edge of innovation. (A lot of you might think to switch out Nederlands Dans Theatre with Stuttgart, and you could be right. I just believe that Nederlands pushes innovation more while Stuttgart offers a more diverse repertory.)

These five companies are also ridiculously accessible these days. With Social Media being the new innovator and the new audience, ballet companies like these five are creating the trends for ballet. With repertory to die for, these companies set the look and feel of ballet, but without a doubt– these companies border between classical and neo-classical companies. I don’t see Nederlands of City Ballet attempting to take on say: The Little Humpback Horse or the full length Raymonda… There are companies who truly are classical, and their schools reflect that as well. I think that these companies have had to expand their repertory because of the demand for new works by both the dancers and the audience.

So the top 10 Classical Ballet Companies in the world would be, in no particular order… Again NO PARTICULAR ORDER, before you all go crazy:

1. Paris Opera Ballet – COMPANY WEBSITE
2. National Ballet of Cuba – COMPANY WEBSITE
3. Bolshoi Ballet/ Kirov/ Mariinsky –BOLSHOI WEBSITE
4. Royal Danish- Bournonville technique- WEBSITE
5. The Australian Ballet – Website
6. Het National Ballet/Dutch National Ballet-WEBSITE
7. American Ballet Theatre- WEBSITE
8. Teatro La Scala – COMPANY WEBSITE
9. National Ballet of Canada –WEBSITE
10. The Royal Ballet – COMPANY WEBSITE

The top 5 Neo-Classical Ballet Companies would be:
1. New York City Ballet
2. Nederlands Dans Theatre
3. Stuttgart Ballet
4. San Francisco Ballet
5. Eifman Ballet
Now my personal list of top 10 companies in the world, the list that really matters:
1. New York City Ballet
2. Paris Opera Ballet
3. Bolshoi Ballet
4. Alonzo King’s LINES
5. San Francisco Ballet
6. Pacific Northwest Ballet
7. American Ballet Theatre
8. Australian Ballet
9. Dance Theatre of Harlem
10. Ballet Black

Company Profile: American Ballet Theatre

Arts Profile

ABT DOCU FUN
ABT DOCU FUN – click image to buy from Amazon.

ABT THE GOLDEN YEARS: ABT at the Met on DVD
ABT THE PROGRESSION OF BALLET: ABT’s Variety and Virtuosity

ABT’s Website.

Favorite Principals at ABT: Hee Seo (gorgeous), James Whiteside (daddy 1), Marcelo Gomes (big daddy)
Favorite Soloists at ABT: Alexandre Hammoudi (aka baby daddy) Jeffrey Cirio (fly as f*ck), Christine Shevchenko, Devon Teuscher, Luciana Paris, Skylar Brandt
Favorite Corps: Zhong-jing Fang, April Giangeruso, Sung Woo Han, Courtney Lavine, Hannah Marshall, Kaho Ogawa.

Other than that I don’t have anything else to say about them.

Ballet Today

ballet today

I was having coffee with a girlfriend today, at some cute little bistro in West Hollywood…
We were chatting about the promotions that have been happening around the world, because it is that time again… Then we were just having a general conversation about the evolution of ballet, and how things have changed drastically over the past, say 7 years. We laughed about third position, and then we laughed some more about low relevés, and knuckling in pointe shoes and how if we danced back in the 20’s or 30’s we would have been superstars… or not. Then somehow the conversation quickly changed, and she asked me about the blog and who I have recently offended, and what hate mail I have received in my inbox… Recently, I received a letter from a teacher at a University asking me not to mention their school or faculty, I responded politely and accordingly and haven’t heard back from that institution. In their letter they pointed out that they aren’t behind the times, they have just chosen a curriculum that works for them… I pointed out that the curriculum that isn’t geared towards real ballet, or art and instead they are just using their “dance major” as a way to bring in students and money.  I don’t think it is their fault, it is the system’s fault, and the faculty protecting their tenure, benefits and salaries.

Ballet is changing, and changing at a rate that most people can’t keep up with.  When I say most people, I am talking about teachers, coaches, PR directors, Artistic Directors, Choreographers, Musicians, and more.  Ballet is expanding at a rate that no one could have imagined.  Misty Copeland has create an international discourse about ballet, and somehow has brought ballet back to the center of classical arts. #propstoyou If SYTYCD made dance approachable to the underexposed parts of the the US, then Misty definitely created an international scene of ballet and ballet politics.  While she can’t just directly come out and say how she feels, because she wants a job… I feel like there is an unspoken current in ballet happening… There is a mood, a feeling, and uprising where dancers are tired of being overlooked, underused, and under appreciated… I feel like with all of these dance projects and collectives coming together, I wouldn’t be surprised if we have a separation soon. I mean major companies today were started by dancers leaving major companies and joining forces as their own voice, unfortunately they too have fallen into the politics of Artistic Directors and selling seats…

So what can be done today?

Bolshoi has brilliantly created international broadcasts.
PNB has created the best youtube videos.
The Australian Ballet has the most visually gorgeous campaigns.
NYCB has taken advantage of the fashion world.
ABT has banked off Misty and has monopolized Pointe Magazine.
SFB has taken to gorgeous photography.
Teatro La Scala has taken in creating amazing DVDs with ballet Superstars.
Royal Danish Ballet basically created an amazing youtube technique class.
Silicon Valley Ballet, formerly Ballet San Jose has rebranded completely and created the best crowdfunding campaign ballet has seen.
Miami City Ballet has teamed up with Teen Vogue.
Paris Opera has created a gorgeous social media presence, I credit Benjamin.

The list goes on… But how will ballet evolve?
Justin Peck & Myles Thatcher seem to be the new choreographers on the rise. We shall see if their work sustains.
The Cirio Collective and Intensio are creating a new wave of dance projects.
Solo projects headed by Desmond Richardson and Wendy Whelan are becoming quite popular as well, almost reminding you of like 1930’s private recitals and such.
Technique is at the most refined point we have ever seen.
We have pushed the human body to it’s limit, an now are discovering qualities in which we can manipulate it.
Genres are becoming more and more blended.

So, what is next? what is next?