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.
For some, dancing in a company isn’t enough. A new and growing trend in professional ballet careers is the Freelance Ballet Dancer. This isn’t an easy feat, either. You can’t just wake up one day and decide, “Hey, I am going to be a Freelance Ballerina.” It definitely doesn’t work that way. Most freelance dancers are coming from major companies, or have become Instagram-famous enough to book work for themselves. But, being a freelance dancer isn’t enough. There is the Freelance Power Couple, and Adiarys Almeida and Taras Domitro just might have figured it out. Both left major companies. Most notably, Domitro just recently left his principal contract at San Francisco Ballet. If you don’t follow them on Instagram, you probably have seen Adiarys turn like a top and Taras jump to new heights effortlessly.
The two have now partnered up and have been making their gala appearances all over the world, performing demanding repertoire but still exuding artistry. But it’t not as easy as they make it look. These two have dedicated their lives to the world of ballet, and by all accounts, they aren’t slowing down anytime soon. A Ballet Education was lucky enough to have this dynamic power couple grace the cover of our ninth issue. We think you’ll enjoy reading about what it’s like for them to be freelance artists. (To read more click here.)
See them perform at the Golden Swan Gala hosted by A Ballet Education and the Phoenix Ballet
Happy New Year! Sorry I haven’t posted, after Nutcracker I needed a long vacation and removal from the world of ballet. So, I am back, and as requested and promised here is a guide on boy ballet shoes. It is kind of long, so I apologize. I still haven’t figured out how to do all of this video work, and truthfully, I haven’t had time since I am focusing on a stellar issue 8.
Okay… so rundown for those of you who don’t want to watch this ridiculously long video of me talking about ballet shoes, and how to sew them. (key: brand >> style >> cost) Click to shop… most of them are all split sole. Just a preference for myself.
Capezio >> Romeo >> $
Pretty standard, not my favorite but the easiest to get. You will need to sew your own elastics. Comes in canvas and leather. Split sole.
Sansha >> Pro 1 >> $$
Another standard, probably everyone’s first pair of ballet of shoes. If you are going to go Sansha… and it is your first pair… this is probably the best to start in. Sansha offers many other ballet shoes in leather, but this is probably the most accessible for everyone.
SoDanca >> Canvas Men’s Ballet Shoe >> $ Newer product on the market, high vamp if you want to call it that… and narrower heel than most. Too thin for my taste, but a lot of dancers like really thin ballet flats to feel the floor. I don’t like feeling the seam where the sole and the shoe meet, so they were a no go for me.
Grishko >> Ultimate Model 1 or Model 6 >> $$$ This is a great shoe if you want to start customizing your ballet shoe. You will pick a size and width which is nice. The split sole on the bottom usually covers the entire ball of the foot which is nice. The performance shoe is better because it has an elastic arch and it is cut at a lower profile (model 6).
Sansha >> K.H. MARTIN >> $$$
Call: (310) 271-3664, tell them David from a Ballet Education sent you and they will help you. These shoes come in a low heel and a full heel, the inner arch is cut much lower than most shoes and is 10 times more flattering than most. There is a right and left, so you don’t need to label. The elastics are pre sewn, but too far down for my taste but not a big deal. My new favorite pair of ballet shoes.
Wear Moi >> Split Sole >> $$$ Comes in gray and white. Beautifully fit, makes the foot look amazing. One of my favorite products on the market. Split sole. Wear Moi also makes a full sole that is pretty decent. Just not a thing for my taste.
Body Wrappers >> Angelo Luzio >> $$
The total stretch is cool, there is a left and right shoe. They are pre sewn which is nice, just they aren’t flattering on my feet, and the feel cheap.
Russian Pointe >> Vivante >> $$
Super stretchy, fully elastic shoe with wide sole on the bottom of the foot. Great shoe and makes the foot look good, doesn’t last a long time in my experience.
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.
“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
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.
His face was pressed against in the glass,
Fingers spread wide, tapping to the muffled sound of the music.
His mind was racing back and forth between reality, and fantasy.
Finally, the door opened and the teacher asked, “Do you want to come in?”
Looking for his mom’s approval, she nodded.
He rushed in.
And that was that.
I always wondered why my mom didn’t put me into dance earlier? From age 3-7 I would religiously watch the Baryshnikov/Kirkland Nutcracker every day, a copy that my grandma gave me. When PBS aired PNB’s Nutcracker, my Grandma recorded it, via VHS and gave it to me as well. I was addicted. I hadn’t even started dance classes yet. There are pictures of me religiously watching it. After preschool, lunch and reading, my mom would try to make me take a nap with her as I would normally get into trouble somewhere in the early afternoon. When these naps came about I would purposefully would toss and turn, and this would lead my mom to let me go to the living room and watch the Nutcracker. Somewhere between Snow and Prologue she would come out, and insist I turn it off and do something educational. I would beg, because the real dancing hadn’t started yet and the clowns hadn’t even danced. Little did I know, that one of those clowns would become a coach later on. Then in PNB’s Nutcracker, I would become obsessed with flowers and snow. Then my life happened, the Nutcracker was going to be in theaters, the NYCB version with Darci Kistler. And that is when I knew that is how I wanted to dance… The problem was, I hadn’t even started dancing yet… My sister and cousins were all in dance… But I wasn’t. Despite the fact that I had to go watch my sisters take class all the time… I hadn’t been enrolled.
Finally, when it came to be… I wasn’t allowed to do ballet. I did boys class which included jazz and tap.
Then, finally, I knew I wanted to do ballet and I finally got my wish. It was so late. So late. After an excellent elementary school, I went to a performing arts middle school with the condition that I keep a GPA over 3.5, stayed in the GATE program, and did other extra curricular activities. Needless to say, I wasn’t getting the training I needed. Then Center Stage came out, and I knew that I wanted that life. With the condition that I kept up all my responsibilities, I was able to quite the dance program at the middle school and go to a pre professional school. Then high school came about, and I knew I had to dance more. So, I doubled up on classes, by my freshman year of high school, I enrolled at a junior college so I could accumulate more credits. By the age of fifteen I had finished high school, differed from colleges to make my parents happy, but I did this so I could focus on ballet.
Then while at this pre professional school, a former principal from National Ballet of Canada told me I would never be a dancer. So, it shattered my world, and I was like, “Fuck. I gave up Uni for this…”
While at the junior college, I found out they offered ballet classes late at night. And I thought, this is perfect! I can double up on my ballet training. I juggled the two back and forth and by January, I had auditions. As rejection letters and acceptance letters came, I was really confused. I had done everything right… I did everything my parents asked me, and everything my teachers asked me but I didn’t get in anywhere that I really wanted. This being SAB.
Then, while under the advisement of the junior college professor, she told me to consider going to a university and majoring in dance. I knew this isn’t want I wanted, but what if the world didn’t have a ballet plan for me? I was taking class at a college here in soCal and as I finished adagio at center I was walking to the side when a man tapped his finger on the glass and told me to come over. I kind of shook my head, but then the music in class stopped and the professor told me I should go out there and talk to him. I didn’t know who he was. He basically asked me a couple questions and asked if I wanted to come to his school for the summer. I had no clue who he was… It was Alonzo King of LINES Ballet. This was before LINES was everywhere. Deadlines were coming up and my parents told me I had to make decisions… So, while eating my favorite chinese food reading about all these programs, I opened my fortune cookie and it said: You will dance to a different beat.
Being the crazy that I am, I was like THIS IS A SIGN. So, I went to LINES. And as beautiful as it was, and as glorious as it was… I knew that this isn’t how I wanted to dance. I didn’t care about what muscles moved what, I didn’t care about finesse and I didn’t care about how a plié made me feel. I knew I wanted to have long lines, and deep fourths. I wanted over crossed everything and I wanted to move fast… Every modern teacher said I was too Balanchine. Every ballet teacher said I didn’t have the body for ballet. It was really discouraging. Despite all of my kicking and dragging on at LINES I had met beautiful dancers who I still catch up with to this day. I came home discouraged, but my Grandma showed me this article about SoCal girls doing it up big. It was referring to Ashley Ellis and Misty Copeland, just coming off their spotlight awards, coca cola scholars and acceptances to ABT Studio company… So, I moved in with my grandma to train at their studio… The caliber of training was amazeballs… It was intense training… But, it was SOOOOOOO classical. Anything remotely unclassical was frowned upon, and the Balanchine was driven out. Then I went to CPYB, thinking okay, if all of the principals of NYCB have gone here… I must go, and they had a University in the same city, so I could keep going on with my education. The training was beyond exceptional, but this time… life handed me a different set of cards… I never thought I would experience racism in a ballet classroom, I never thought I would be the only asian male for miles, I never thought a lot of things would ever happen to me… and they did. I grew up in Southern California, my parents are white, and my brothers and sisters are all from different countries. Growing up my best friend was half french half black, and my other best friend was half German half mexican. Racism was the furthest thing from my mind… So, when comments by teachers were made about me being oriental, or that I had to open my eyes bigger… I was like wtf. This was the first time race became utterly important, but it also crushed me. So, despite CPYB’s advice, I decided to go audition for companies and got in. I begged the school the company was associated with to let me come early and just be in the school so I could get out of CPYB. Dance ended but brought teaching… Teaching brought back hope for ballet for me. Watching students leave this summer to join companies, go to SAB, and other summer programs, go off to university to dance on scholarship… Makes me feel like I can really do this… which basically caused this retrospective…
Ten years later, here I am sitting down filling out company contracts, school curriculum and emailing theaters. Crazy. Right? Starting a ballet company where poverty is seen in 30 miles every direction, the average high school drop out rate is over 30%, and the only major theatre is for comedians. Insane right? No, because now I know how important it is to let someone dance. And as I start this crazy journey of starting a company I am loving it. Mostly because the dancers I have hired are beautiful people with beautiful stories and that makes them beautiful to watch.
Kelly is tall. Like really tall. And after having a pre pro scholarship at PNB, and dancing at numerous companies around the US- she was never really pushed into roles because she was so tall. Now, inspired to dance again after having kids, she is beyond gorgeous and has this ferocious tenacity, ridiculous dedication and now that she is pushing for herself she taking on roles with fire and having experienced everything she has gone through as a mom, as a tall dancer, and as a teacher she brings something extra to her dancing. Then there is Carlos, who was a student of mine, coming from the same area. Training him to get scholarship at the Rock School then continuing his education at University of North Carolina School of the Arts, he is back. After fighting his family to let him dance, he comes back gorgeous, strong and long. Jaquie was told she was never going to dance. The studio owner would tell her to her face that she would never dance. Then I came to her studio as a teacher. After pushing and stretching, and challenging her, she got into summer programs and attended. She then got a scholarship to go to University. She is going to commute back and forth to dance. Amanda did everything right in ballet. Went year round at the Rock School, spent every summer at SAB, but ballet life got to her, and she decided to become an RN. Now at a top ranked hospital in the US, she decided she missed dancing, and wanted to start again. These are just short abbreviated versions of their stories, but their stories are also just beginning. It is really that spectacular. www.redlandsdancetheatre.org
facebook: REDLANDS DANCE THEATRE