Benois de la Danse Awards (2019)

Benois de la Danse Awards (2019)

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It is that time of year again, where the best of the best in the ballet industry gather to celebrate the 2018-2019 season and honor those who made an impact on audiences, critics and the jury.

On May 21, the best of the best will be honored in a showstopping performance in Russia. This night is the prestigious Benois de la Danse Awards. The jury who will decide the results include: Juri Grigorovich, Dirk Badenhorst, Ted Brandsen, Svetlana Zakharova, Ana Laguna, Angès Letestu, Vladimir Malakhov, and Rachel Moore. This year could be a big year for Septime Webre and Kansas City Ballet, as the production of The Wizard of Oz has been nominated numerous times.

(photo courtesy of Kansas City Ballet’s press release of their new Production)

The Lifetime Achievement Award will honor Jiri Kylian. The Russian-Italian Prize Benois-Massine Award will go to Anna Laudere.

Nominees for the best choreographer are:

Juanjo Arques, for Ignite, Kate Whitley. Birmingham Royal Ballet.
Septime Webre, for The Wizard of Oz, Matthew Pierce, Kansas City Ballet.
Manuel Legris, for Sylvia, Leo Delibers, for Vienna State Ballet.
Justin Peck for Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, music by M83 for the San Francisco Ballet.
Fredrik Benke Rydman for Duet with an Industrial Robot, muisic by Johan Lilje Dal, Karl Johan Rasmusson, for Stockholm City Theatre.
Christian Spuck, for Winterreise, music by Hans Zender and Franz Schubert for the Zurich Ballet.

Best Female Dance Performance Nominees Include:

Amandine Albisson, as Marguerite Gautier in La Dame Aux Camelias, music by Chopin and Choreography by Neumeier for the Paris Opera Ballet.
Ashley Bouder, as Swanhilda, in Coppelia, music by Delibes, Choreography by George Balanchine for the New York City Ballet.
Elisa Carrillo Cabrera, as Juliet, in Romeo and Juliet, music by Prokofiev, and choreography by Duato for the State Ballet of Berlin.
Maia Makhateli, for Marguerite Gautier, in La Dame aux Camelias, music by Chopin, Choreographed by Neumeier, for the Dutch National Ballet.
Yuan Yuan Tan, for duet Take a Deep Breath, Bound to, music by Henson, choreographed by Wheeldon for the San Francisco Ballet.
Kaho Yanagisawa, Solo Part in Artifact Suite, music by Crossman-Hecht and Bach, choreographed by Forsythe at the Royal Swedish Ballet.

Best Male Dance Performance Nominees are:

Audric Bezard, as Armand Duval in La Dame Aux Camelias, music by Chopin, choreography by Neumeier for the Paris Opera Ballet.
Daniel Camargo is nominated for both his performace as Armand Duval in Lady of the Camelias and as Basilio in Don Quixotte, music by Minkus, Choreography by A Ratmansky afer Petipa at the Dutch National Ballet.
Viacheslav Lopatin, in the Faun, music by Debussy, and Sawhney, choreography by Cherkaoui for Bolshoi Ballet.
Vadim Muntagirov for Prince Siegfried in the Swan Lake. Music by Tchaikovsky, choreography by Liam Scarlett for the Royal Ballet.
Andile Ndlovu for his role as Mercrutio in Romeo and Juliet at the Washington Ballet. Music by Prokofiev, choreography by John Cranko.
Abel Rojo for Carying with My Own Floor, music by E Satie. Choreography by A. Rojo for the Malpaso Company.
Daniil Simkin for his role as the Harlequin, in ABT’s new version of Harlequinade. Music by Drigo, choreography by Ratmansky after Petipa.

Composers Nominated for this year’s award are:
Matthew Pierce for the Wizard of Oz, choreography by Septime Weber (also nominated).
Kate Whitley for Ignite. Choreography by Juanjo Aques (also nominated) for the Birmingham Royal Ballet.

Designers Nominated for Costumes are:

Jerome Kaplan for Staats Berlin’s La Bayadere.
John Macfarlane for Royal Ballet’s Swan Lake.
Robert Perdziola for ABT’s Harlequinade.
Michael Raiford and Liz Vandal for the Wizard of Oz.

Below is the star studded performance schedule.

21 MAY 2019. P R O G R A M M E

PART I

M. Pierce – Benois-2019 nominee
Excerpt from THE WIZARD OF OZ
Choreography by S.WEBRE – Benois-2019 nominee
soloists of theKansas City Ballet
LILIANA HAGERMAN
JEREMY HANSON
LAMIN DOS SANTOS
soloist of Colorado Ballet
CHRISTOPHOR MOULTON
soloist of Royal Winnipeg Ballet
STEPHAN AZULAY
Russian premiere

K.Whitley – Benois-2019 nominee.
Excerpt from IGNITE
Choreography by J.ARQUÉS–Benois-2019 nominee
soloists of Dutch National Ballet
ANNA TSYGANKOVA
YOUNG GUY CHOI
Piano – KATE WHITLEY
Russian premiere

THE MASSAGE
to the music by P.Tchaikovsky
Choreography by F.BENKE RYDMAN –Benois 2019 nominee
soloists of House of Shapes
ELLEN LINDBLAD
DANIEL KOIVUNEN
World premiere

Excerpt from WINTERREISE
to the music by F.Schubert/H.Zender
Choreography by CH.SPUCK – Benois-2019 nominee
soloists of the Zurich Ballet
ELENA VOSTROTINA
COHEN AITCHISON-DUGAS
DOMINIK SLAVKOVSKY
Moscow premiere

L.Delibes. Excerpts from SYLVIA
Choreography by M.LEGRIS – laureate of Benois de la Danse, nominee of 2019, after LUIS MÉRANTE
soloists of the Vienna State Ballet
NIKISHA FOGO
DENIS CHEREVICHKO – nominee of Benois de la Danse

CARRING MY OWN STAGE
To the music by E.Satie
Choreography by A. ROJO
soloist of Malpaso Company
ABEL ROJO – Benois-2019 nominee
Piano – VALERIA KACHUROVSKAYA
Russian premiere

Duet from the second act of LADY WITH THE CAMELLIAS
To the music by F.Chopin
Choreography by J.NEUMEIER– Benois de la Danse laureate
soloists of Dutch National Ballet 
MAIA MAKHATELI– Benois-2019 nominee
JAMES STOUT

L.Delibes. Pas de deux from COPPÉLIA 
Choreography by G.BALANCHINE and A.DANILOVA after M.PETIPA
©The George Balanchine Trust
soloist of the New York City Ballet
ASHLEY BOUDER
soloist of the Passific North-West Ballet
SETH ORZA 

PART II

S.Prokofiev.Duet from ROMEO AND JULIET
Choreography by N. DUATO – laureate of Benois de la Danse, 
soloist of State Ballet Berlin
ELISA CARRILLO CABRERA -Benois – 2019 nominee
soloist of Mikhailovsky Theatre Ballet
IVAN ZAYTSEV

Excerpt from ARTIFACT-SUITE
To the music by I.S.Bach
Choreography, costumes and light concept by W. FORSYTHE– laureate of Benois de la Danse, 
soloists of the Royal Swedish Ballet
KAHO YANAGISAWA – Benois-2019 nominee
JONATAN DAVIDSSON

I.Demutsky– laureate of Benois de la Danse
THE LETTRE from NUREYEV
Choreography by Y.POSSOKHOV – laureate of Benois de la Danse
soloist of the Bolshoi Theatre of Russia
VIATCHESLAV LOPATIN – Benois-2019 nominee

H. Løvenskiold. Pas de deuxfrom LA SYLPHIDE
Choreography by A.BOURNONVILLE
soloists of The Washington Ballet
MAKI ONUKI
ANDILE NDLOVU – Benois-2019 nominee

Duet from the third act of LADY WITH THE CAMELLIAS
To the music by F.Chopin
Choreography by J.NEUMEIER – laureate of Benois de la Danse
soloists of the Paris Opera Ballet
AMANDINE ALBISSON – Benois-2019 nominee 
AUDRIC BEZARD – Benois-2019 nominee

THE OTHER YOU
To the music by L.van Beethoven 
Choreography by C.PITE – laureate of Benois de ls Danse
soloists of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago
MICHAEL GROSS
ANDREW MURDOCK
Russian premiere

ADAGIETTO, 4TH MOVEMENT from FIFTH SYMPHONYOF GUSTAV MAHLER
Choreography, costumes, light concept by J.NEUMEIER – laureate of Benois de la Danse
soloists of the Hamburg Ballet
ANNA LAUDERE– laureate of Benois–Massine Prize
EDVIN REVAZOV

K.Henson. TAKE A DEEP BREATH
Choreography by CH.WHEELDON
soloists of San Francisco Ballet
YUAN YUAN TAN – Benois-2019 nominee
CARLO DI LANNO 
Moscow premiere

L.Minkus. Pas de deux from DON QUIXOTE
Choreography by A.GORSKY
soloist of the Stuttgart State Ball
ELISA BADENES
DANIEL CAMARGO – Benois -2019 nominee

Masters of the ceremony
KSENIA RAPPOPORT
ANDREY ANDREEV

Direction of the concert
ANDREY MELANYIN

Author of the text
ALEXANDER KOLESNIKOV

Stage-designer
SERGEY TIMONIN 

Light Designer
SERGEY SHEVCHENKO
Light designer assistant – ALEXANDER ROMANOV

Sound
ANDREY VOLKOV

Stage operator
ROMAN SMIRNOV

Stage managers
ANDREY MELANIN, VLADIMIR SCHERBAKOV, IRINA ZIBROVA, MIKHAIL MINEEV

Director of the technical staff 
IGOR SUVOROV

Chairman of the BENOIS DE LA DANSE Program
YURI GRIGOROVICH

President of the Board 
REGINA NIKIFOROVA

Artistic Director
NINA KUDRIAVTSEVA-LOORY

Official photographer 
MIKHAIL LOGVINOV

Video-projections
SERGEY BORISOV

Project coordinator
OLGA GORCHAKOVA

Financial service OOO Auditor Firm “KEMENOV”
ALEXEY NIKITIN

Administrator
VALENTINA DMITRENKO

Press Office
OLGA KULIKOVA

Internet-projects’ manager
NATALIA PUTICHEVA

Group of interpreters’ coordinator
MARIA PODGORNOVA

Printing Products
PUBLISHING HOUSE TEATRALIS

Executive Producer
TATIANA SIDOROVA

David King

David King

The author of a Ballet Education www.DavidJWKing.com

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San Francisco Ballet’s The Little Mermaid

San Francisco Ballet’s

The Little Mermaid

APRIL 19, 2019
Tamara Sparkles

Watching Yuan Yuan Tan perform “The Little Mermaid” is something that I will remember for a long time. She exudes the vibrant mystique that you want to believe in when it comes to the dark sorted tale of unrequited love that is Hans Christian Andersen’s original fable.

Ms. Tan’s port de bras simply surpass any visual expectation. They are surreal. She is lifted and tossed by her men of the ocean, and you honestly believe that she IS the ethereal underwater creature that she is portraying. With a flawless, undulating wave and a supple back, she truly transforms into the naive, beautiful mermaid we are all sympathizing with as she visits the Sea Witch to exchange her tail, and her voice for a love that can never exist. There are moments where Ms. Tan makes the romantic tragedy so real you can feel it in your bones; this is both through the beautiful choreography of John Neumeier and her stellar exploration of this character. Yuan Yuan Tan is unmatched in this ballet. It truly belongs to her.

Aaron Robinson was perfectly playful to the beautiful Mermaid with his gorgeous romantic movement and festive innocent flirtations. His lines and communications of the love of both the Princess (the stunning Sasha DeSola) and The Little Mermaid were clear and thoughtful. Also, his jumps are solidly clean and delicious.

Sasha DeSola is the consummate Princess. She is effortless. Her technique is clear and precise, and her sense of royalty seems inherent. When she appears on deck in her hot pink jumpsuit, so flirtatious, so young and in love…She is everything. You are watching only her. It is easy to feel sympathy for the Little Mermaid up against such a formidable romantic rival.

My favorite moments of John Neumeier’s beautifully epic ballet lie with the Poet (Ulrik Birkkjaer) and the Sea Witch (Wei Wang). The Poet, Ulrik Birkkjaer leads us through this story with beauty and grace dancing seamlessly under the water, on the ship, and in the heavens. He knows what is happening, what is about to happen and our heart breaks with his as the story unfolds. Ulrik is strong and filled with depth. He blends in as the Poet and yet cannot be ignored when on stage. He is a storyteller.
Wei Wang, as the Sea Witch is incredible. You want to see him as the villain, but it’s nearly impossible because his dancing is so extraordinary. He embodies the regal eel-like creature that strikes a deal with The Little Mermaid that eventually turns so dark.

There is a moment at the end, where the Little Mermaid and The Poet are lifted into the night sky on a platform of stars, it is worthy of all of our tears for all of our loves that were never returned. Congratulations to everyone at San Francisco Ballet on a beautiful run of this majestic ballet.

The Little Mermaid: Yuan Yuan Tan
Prince / Edvard: Aaron Robison
Poet / Hans Christian Andersen: Ulrik Birkkjaer
Princess / Henriette: Sasha De Sola
Sea Witch: Wei Wang

http://www.sfballet.org
Photos courtesy of San Francisco Ballet, ©Erik Tomasson

Tamara Sparkles

Contributor | San Francisco

Tamara is a California native with a passion and understanding for dance education that stems from 30 years of teaching experience. She is available for private coaching in the Bay the area.

Ballet Review: Ballet West’s Swan Lake

By Melanie Durham

Usually seeing a superb rendition of Swan Lake to Tchaikovsky’s beloved score is hard to find and ridiculously long, but Ballet West in Utah did it in three hours with grace and beauty. Overall it was a grand performance and celebrated this monumental classic.

Ballet West Swan Lake Beckanne

Included in this memorable piece was the Prologue in the chamber of Princess Odette, Acts I & II, Act III and Act IV. And thank goodness because the two intermissions definitely added time that made for a long evening. Fortunately, we still got that gorgeous, melodic music from the amazing orchestra (Ballet West Orchestra) that carried us into a land far away. The backgrounds were setting the scenes with daring detail, the costumes were delicate and the dancers performed like they were genuinely happy to be onstage.

Ballet West Melanie Durham

The choreography was reflective of each Act it was portraying, although the walkways that our dear Prince Siegfried (Chase O’Connell) was given seemed rather repetitive and less textured compared to the other characters. For example, the choreographic patterns of many duos and trios made a difference in how the characters were received by the audience. When the Prince would walk to a place then gesture, the purpose in his walk wasn’t as commanding as one would think it should be coming from royalty. The comic relief that The Queen provided was welcome and needed, but the energy from Baron von Rothbart was lacking to portray actual evil or coldness.

The divine roles of Odette/Odile (Beckanne Sisk) in this evening performance were spot on. My eyes were immediately drawn to her feet as they presented themselves with dignity and lightness. My heart sank for her as her balance wasn’t quite there for a penche while trying to hold the Prince’s crossbow, however, once she found her moment, it was beautiful; a true mark of a professional. The character change from white swan to black swan was thrilling to wait for. The eye connection to the audience and smirk as Odile was exactly what we needed.

Applause to all of the younger performers in the cast. What professional faces and acting they portrayed in each moment they had. The technical ability and energy from them brought a rekindling of childhood performances, but to perform on such a beautiful stage such as the Capital Theatre, is quite a sight. The details were not forgotten with them in costuming or in timing of steps. It’s always a treat to watch these budding performers and wonder who the next demi-soloist or principle artist could be in the years to come.

I appreciated the true athleticism of the males in this rendition of Swan Lake, but was disappointed in the lack of precision when it came to epaulement and head angles. The crispness of the down beat compared to the motion during Act I left more to be desired when the men took the stage. Height was achieved and space was commanded fantastically, yet the sharpness of the upper body, including arm lines, could’ve been cleaner. This doesn’t mean the women were supreme in the same, but the softness they portrayed was more of unified focus in comparison. To be frank, the arms need to be so swan-like and so relaxed in Act II and oh so uniformed. The angles and break in some wrists were perfectly elegant in shape, while some forgot to keep their upper arm away from their head ever so slightly more to mimic the shape of the person ahead of them. The beautiful white costumes made it pleasant to watch, but my eye couldn’t help but squint at those lost wrists.

Above all, this Swan Lake satisfied my need to watch Ballet West in action as my local ballet company. It’s a recognized score and costuming, which is sure to appeal to all ages. It’s always an honor to watch a cast of fine dancers, from tiny through veteran, who graciously welcome us into this world of ballet, to ultimately leave us to exit with happiness in our hearts.

www.balletwest.org

Camille A. Brown & Dancers @ the Kennedy Center

camille a brown

During the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, I had the wonderful opportunity of spending the weekend at the Kennedy Center. This weekend marked a great feat in discourse and dance history as Camille A. Brown & Dancers made their debut at the Kennedy Center. I saw the second night of the performance where this four time Princess Grace Award Winner presented Ink. The following night included in the 40th Kennedy Center Honors that airs December 26 on CBS. (Honorees include: Carmen De Lavallade, Gloria Estefan, LL COOL J, Norman Lear and Lionel Richie.) This weekend at the Kennedy Center also celebrated Fred Astaire, another Kennedy Center Honoree.

Anyways, back to Camille A. Brown… This performance attracted everyone: young and old, different ethnicities and different socioeconomic statuses. I was lucky enough to have a box seat at this performance where I was sat next to presitigious memebers of today’s arts and culture. Other attendees included the Editor of Essence, Vanessa K. De Luca and Virgina Johnson, Artistic Director of Dance Theatre of Harlem (who just finished the European Tour).

The night presented Ms. Brown’s Original work Ink that infused cultural movement, post modern gesturalism, a blend of live and recorded movement completely stripped. The stage was completely stripped, and the only set was a broken painting hung on either side and the live music set up in between the two. What was extraordinary about this performance was it was a relevant mark at Kennedy Center and Dance History because it placed Post Modern movement at the center of the dance world. Creating a large conversation about the culture and evolution of the opposite side of technical classical dance.

As the performance was interesting, the thing that I admired most about the piece was Ms. Brown’s ability to create a conversation between two dancers based on movement. It is something that classical ballet, and even contemporary ballet lacks. It wasn’t just telling a story, but it was her ability to almost portray a dailogue of movement between two people on stage with music. While we all know post-modern dance isn’t really my thing, nor does the trends of post-modern dance play a huge influencial factor in Classical Ballet- It was interesting to see different bodytypes,  lack of technique, and almost a since of the abondonment from anything remotely classical on stage at the Kennedy Center; especially on the evening prior to the Kennedy Center Awards.

I would have included more of the names and quotes from the program but I lost my program book following the performance. But bravo to all of the dancers.

Shaping Sound… Shaping the way for dance

While ballet has its often downfalls of lackluster performances and vague storylines, Travis Wall’s Shaping Sound Company delivers with a punch with After The Curtain. With cast of mainstreamed dancers, amazing sets by Greg Anderson, lighting design that puts most ballet shows to shame by Nathan Schemer and Terese Porterfield, costumes in a subtle and refined palette by Gabrielle Letamendi and produced by Break The Floor; Travis Wall reiterates his Emmy win, and makes way for contemporary commercial dance company and dancer.

 

Shaping Sound After the Curtain.jpg
Photo by Amber Skaggs (@ambernovella)

 

Founded in 2012 by Travis Wall, who does not need to list his accomplishments, pioneered a new type of dance company. The commercial contemporary dance company. Slowly, it evolved to create full storyline productions, integrated various styles of dance, and made way for the commercial contemporary dancer. (Yes, Bad Boys and Kings of Ballet and Complexions were there, but Travis Wall made a company that accommodated the dancer coming from the jazz studio competition circuit, not just the ballet cross-trained dancer.)

So, I was supposed to go review the performance in Charleston in February, but since I found myself in Arizona this week, I was lucky enough to go see it. As I arrived, I was blown away by people begging for tickets on the street, scalpers, and the entire dance scene of Arizona attending. (If you are from Arizona or have spent some time there, you would know it is very rare to have comp studios, ballet academies, professional contemporary dancers, and post-modern dancers all in one place.) Children from Ballet Arizona, Master Ballet Academy, Club Dance and tons of other studios flocked to the theater tonight. But that wasn’t the best part, the majority of the theater was filled with dance lovers, nondancers, and spanned generations. Not to mention it was packed, if not sold out.

Now, the cast was filled with beyond exceptional movers. The dancers included Travis Wall, Nick Lazzarini, Chantel Aguirre, Barton Cowperthwaite, Michael Dameski, Mia Dilena, Jay Jay Dixonbey, Rory Freeman, Kate Harpootlian, Michael Keefe, Lindsay Leuschner, Channing Cooke and Riley Kurilko. And, since it was a Break the Floor Production and Gil Stroming was the executive producer, the standard was set pretty high. And I won’t lie, I was a little skeptical if I would make it through the whole show. (We all know I have a tendency to fall asleep at the theater)

You walked into the arena, yes it was at the Comerica Theatre so you got to have snacks inside. So of course, I got popcorn. Now I thought, “I am here with my nugget what did I get myself into?” As we walked into the theatre, you walked into the stage completely exposed and the ghost light on center-center.

IMG_6249

As the story unfolded, I was intrigued, and while the first twenty minutes were hard to get into, it then became mesmerizing. Literally, an entire story unfolded examining the complex issues and relationships between humans. Something that dance often lacks, overshoots, or translates poorly. As things slowly started to unfold it almost felt disjointed and choppy, but as it progressed you start to realize that all of those nuances and slight phrases that were out of place all actually have a place. (It was quite brilliant.) The choreography (Travis Wall, Nick Lazzarini, Teddy Forance and tap choreography by Anthony Morigerato) was exceptional. Most notably the pas de deuxs between Travis Wall’s Character Vincent and Barton Cowperthwaite’s character Sebastien were beyond exceptional and carried such weight, that I was moved. (And we all know, that performances rarely move me.) While the crowd adored all the special effects (lights, sticks, ropes, papers… if you go see the show, and you should, you will understand) I could have done without sticks.

shaping-shound-17_blog-640x420

So, without giving a lot away, because you should just go see the show for yourself, I will tell you what was so moving about this production. The story examines everything from sexuality (if you are conservative Christian family with kids, this show might not be your cup of tea), alcoholism, adultery, promiscuity, murder, life, after-life, relationships, and family dynamics, and Shaping Sound delivers it in two hours. While some characters are more fleshed out than others, all of the characters evolve, change, and bring a sense of human conflict into their dancing. Nick Lazzarini‘s character evolves so beautifully that just a huge changes how you perceive the character. Lazzarini takes such care and exception of his character that his endless turns, and gravity-defying jumps don’t overshadow the character. Barton Cowperthwaite‘s character not only evolves after death, but Cowperthwaite is able to fuse the standard balletic emotions, but makes them sincere and thought out. The young Michael Dameski, 21, played Wall’s alter ego. The Audience Favorite from 2014 SYTYCD Australia kept up with Travis in quality, technique, and emotion giving him a great promising start in the American dance scene.

While the men delivered extremely strong performances, I think the women are still growing into their roles. Their characters are beautiful and all of the women moved beautifully with qualities most dancers lack. But, when the men are delivering beyond exceptional performances and beautiful technique it almost distracts when the women are not keeping up. Chantel Aguirre‘s role of the women was the most technical and versatile but since she lacked the 180 penché, the line and effect were lost.

Overall, as the show came to an end, I think the audience was stunned. Not just because it was a great produced show, but it also demanded the audience to think about social issues today. With the New York Times just publishing the dynamic of man on man duets and applauding NYCB’s Justin Peck… Travis Wall just blew him out of the water tenfold and created a work that not only explored all depths of sexuality, but was accepted by the general mainstream public (especially in Arizona…).

It was given a standing applause almost immediately after the lights went out and this was only the second time this production was performed. 

Additionally, each dancer as they came out to bow individually, were so sincere and humble that they each only bowed for maybe three seconds before running off, even Travis. Their bows were not the long overdone ballet bows, and that made it even more effective in humanizing dance stars.

While many have mainstreamed ballet with these contemporary pop/ballet shows, and contemporary ballet companies offer triple-bill programs, no one has really pulled off an entire story evening of contemporary dance. While, new ballets like Wheeldon’s Alice for Royal Ballet, Scarlett’s Frankenstein for Royal and San Francisco’s collaboration, and Possokhov’s Hero of Our Time, the art of storytelling in ballet sometimes falls short. And while other productions have popularized dance and pop culture like Joffrey’s Billboards to the music of Prince, Kings of Ballet, Bad Boys of Ballet and numerous collaborative productions (including Broadway and film); Travis Wall’s Shaping Sound really has created a space for competitive contemporary dancers to have a chance at a full-time job in a company, and has proven you can tell a two hour story with no speaking parts, move beautifully, produce an elaborate production, and sell tickets in a single stroke. This is a performance that is a must see. I urge you all. Even if you are uncomfortable talking to your kids about homosexuality, alcoholism, and other social problems- it does make you remember that good, quality, exceptional dancing and technique can be human and doesn’t always have to be about a princess who needs saving.

GET YOUR TICKETS HERE!

Honoring the legend, the man, the humble Julio Bocca.

On Friday night, at the Lincoln Center’s David H. Koch Theater, the ballet world came together to celebrate one man: Julio Bocca. Most nights at the ballet are great, but this night was exceptional. The night began with the crowd filling the lobby of Lincoln Center, the entire ballet world seemed to be there. Among the faces in the crowd were Julie Kent, Isabella Boylston, Lauren Lovette, Stella Abrera (who was nominated for a Prix Benois de la Danse for her performance as Aurora in the Sleeping Beauty), The Olsen Twins, and more. The evening promised to be one of excitement as the playbill listed a long list of principal star dancers. With that many principals, it promised to be a stellar night.

The evening opened with projections of various dancers from around the world wishing Julio Bocca a happy birthday while in front dancers were planning a party and toasting. As it all wound down, there was Marcello Gomes who gave the opening speech. A speech about inspiration and the admiration he has for such a great dancer. He then danced with Luciana Paris in Twyla Tharp’s My Way from Sinatra Suite. This was followed by ballroom dancers Cecilia Figaredo and Hernan Piquin dancing to Michelangelo 70 by Astor Piazzolla. NYCB’s Joaquin De Luz came out to talk about Mr. Bocca and was followed by him dancing Jerome Robbins’ Other Dances with Tiler Peck. A series of beautiful solo variations and cute playfulness engulfed Lincoln Center.

JULIO BOCCA: A TRIBUTE TO A DANCE LEGEND

Next, another video of Julio Bocca describing what it was like to dance Romeo and Juliet with Natalia Makarova. This was followed by a letter and voice clip from the Swan Queen herself. It started with a video of Natalia in the balcony scene with Marcelo Gomes being her Romeo. This was then followed with Maria Riccetto (Ballet Nacional SODRE and formerly ABT running out). The two performed MacMillan’s luscious pas de deux. Have not seen her dance since she left ABT, but she has definitely grown as an artist. It was adorable and fresh, everything a Juliet should be. Marcelo pushed his jumps and turns insanely during the opening solo. It was just beautiful dancing.

 

Yuan Yuan Tan and Vitor Luiz performed the Final Pas e Deux from Bells by Yui Possokhov. Her beautiful red Leo showcased her ridiculous ferocious body and her unbelievable movement quality.

JULIO BOCCA: A TRIBUTE TO A DANCE LEGEND
photo by VAM, courtesy of the YAGP

This was followed by Julio Bocca’s thoughts on DON Q, and started with a video of Mr. Bocca and Tamara Rojo performing the exciting pas de deux. Emerging from the wings was Tamara Rojo and Isaac Hernandez of English National Ballet. The two dazzled the crowds with insane balances, never ending pirouettes, triple fouettes, and a sassy playfulness on Ms. Rojo’s part. It was probably the best Kitri I have ever seen.

 

Gonzalo Garcia of NYCB performed the solo from Mambo Suite, a fun and male flirty variation. Followed by Nina Ananiashvili of State Ballet of Georgia performing Lekuri, a Soviet folk dance in pointe shoes. Yuan Yuan Tan and Vitor Luz came back out to performing the opening of Black Swan Pas De Deux. The audience wanted more but they only did the pas de deux. Her take on black swan is more sly and sleek, befitting to her body.

LaCarra_Dino_YAGP2017BOCCA_GALA_VAM Photo 3.jpg
Photo by VAM, courtesy of the YAGP

Lucia LaCarra and Marlon Dino performed Spiral Twist by Russell Maliphant. This gorgeous, gorgeous pas de deux was complex and intricate. Somewhere between ballet and figure skating the piece was intellectual and thought-provoking for the audience. No pointe shoes, just simple gray costumes, the two moved so elegantly and so luscious that the audience went wild.

 

Paris_Colomba_YAGP2017BOCCA_GALA_VAM Photo 1.jpg
Photo by VAM, courtesy of the YAGP

 

Luciana Paris and Rodrigo Colomba (Teatro Folklorico Nacional-Argentina) performed Presente, a world premier by Analia Gonzalez. This super sexy pas de deux made for a very entertaining number. He was strong, supportive, and so into her, it turned the audience on. It was so sexy. His large hands all over her tiny waist and body… She danced in just a long sleeve leotard, he danced in pants and a tank top… Oooh, hot and bothered all over again.

Isabelle Guerin and Manual Legris, former etoiles of Paris Opera, danced Farewell Waltz. A very subtle pas de deux about the end of life. She is everything I have ever imagined about watching her dance life. Slick and effortless technique. He was everything he needed to be, strong but insecure, effortless but distraught.

Vitor Luz performed Percussion 4 from Bob Fosse.

The night ended with all of the dancers toasting Julio Bocca on stage. For most of the young YAGP competitors, they probably didn’t know who Julio Bocca was until now. But, if they could take anything away from the evening it was the humility and thoughtfulness of this man. Everything that was said about him reflected his genuine qualities, his humble attitude, and his never ending hard work.

www.YAGP.org

//Thank you to everyone who sponsored me to go to the YAGP.

AND THE CROWD GOES CRAZY…

The Stars of Today Meet the Stars of Tomorrow:
Thursday, April 13, 2017 @ the David H. Koch Theater @ Lincoln Center

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Any evening at Lincoln Center always promises to be a success and enjoyable for the mature ballet goer. But, tonight was different as hundreds of young ballet dancers flocked to the fountain with the anticipation of what was to come. Tonight, the Youth America Grand Prix hosted a beautiful gala honoring their lifetime achievement honoree Bruce Marks, the pure talent of top performers from the Prix, and professionals from all around the world. Dozens of professional dance icons glided across the marble floors at Lincoln Center to support their colleagues, young dancers, and the talented and forever a part of ballet history Bruce Marks. By the time the audience sat and the house lights dimmed, the sold-out house was ready for ballet.The energy was different from other nights at theater. It was young, it was hopeful, it was exciting. As the lights dimmed, dozens of screams from the third and fourth ring poured into Lincoln Center, the anticipation was bursting, and it led to a spectacular evening of ballet.

 

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Photo by VAM PRODUCTIONS, courtesy of the YAGP

It opened with a male pre-competitor, Brady Farrar doing the variation from Talisman that was pretty awesome. Followed by the pas de deux from Coppellia from Master’s Juniors featuring Avery Gay. Classical Dance Academy performed a competitive ensemble piece titled Existence that involved a glowing pink parachute. Junior division’s Takumi Miyaki performed the male variation from Swan Lake. This was followed by a contemporary solo from Jan Spunda titled “Swan” which was a male take on Dying Swan. A senior from Korea redid her variation from Raymonda. Tara from Portugal performed a contemporary solo in a skirt. Maddison Penny blew the audience away with her variation of Esmeralda and Taro Kurachi blew everyone over again with his Don Q variation. This was followed by the Grand Défilé with choreography by YAGP resident choreographer Carlos do Santos, Jr that included 300 YAGP participants from 30 countries. It rivaled many corps de ballets from major companies. It was just legs for days and clean technique. Arms that are too short for their bodies because of their ages, but beautifully proportioned bodies.
YAGP 2017 Gala Starts of Today Meet the Stars of Tomorrow

Photo by VAM PRODUCTIONS, courtesy of the YAGP

The night then honored Bruce Marks. The talented and beautiful Nina Ananiashvili presented the award. His acceptance speech was funny, heartfelt and inspiring. Then it just got long a political, but he is Bruce Marks and 80, so let the man do his thing.

YAGP 2017 Gala Starts of Today Meet the Stars of Tomorrow

Photo by VAM PRODUCTIONS, courtesy of the YAGP

ACT II brought the roaring applause. The second half of the program opened with Tiler Peck and Zachary Catazaro performing Wheeldon’s Pas De Deux from Carousel. It was a very cute pas de deux but completely out of text from the Carousel Suite… Without the entire ballet the pas de deux is kind of boring. They were not boring, as I adore Tiler Peck. He was nice, but

James Whiteside then performed in place of Xander Parish in a solo by Marcelo Gomes. James Whiteside is beyond beautiful, the problem with this solo was that it was not thought out well. It seemed very disjointed and lacked the interesting factor.

YAGP 2017 Gala Starts of Today Meet the Stars of TomorrowBrittany O’Connor and Paul Barris performed a very sexy ballroom number involving one pointe shoe and a backless sequin dress with a live music ensemble. She had legs and body for days… Like for days. So between ballroom steps and ballet steps, the sexy duo performed with intricate lifts and spiraling whip arounds. Photo courtesy of the YAGP by VAM.

 

Skyler Brandt and Gabe Stone Sayer performed the always crowd pleasing pas de deux from Spring Waters. Both are now at ABT and both former YAGP finalists. He was charismatic, and she as full of energy like always. Skyler Brandt is truly turning into ballet’s sweat heart, and there is a clear reason: she is adorable. Her big eyes, all American body type, a smile that’s worth a million dollars and she’s clean.

Svetlana Lukina and Evan McKie performed David Dawson’s new Swan Lake Pas De Deux. In this minimal costuming, and contemporary take, the White Swan has total control and is almost enticing. She is mesmerizing and this was probably the most interesting piece of the night. For the mature balletomane, this probably was the jewel of the evening, but for the kids and this young audience, it wasn’t enough… But what came at the end truly was what the audience craved…

Ian Spring performed the always popular David Parson’s Caught. If you haven’t seen it, it involves a very cool strobe hiding the in-between steps and only what Mr. Parson’s wants you to see. Like a series of photographs. I have now seen Angel Corella do it and it was awful but the audience liked him and Glen Simmons from Ailey which was spectacular. Ian Spring brought a very fun and very lively take to it which I enjoyed a lot. Plus, the kids were going crazy over it.

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Photo by VAM, courtesy of the YAGP

 

 

 

Goddess Lucia Lacarra and Marlon Dino performed Light Rain by Gerald Arpino. The choreography was dated, but it showcased Ms. Lacarra’s impeccable legs and feet and the fact that she has no hips. It was purely all about flexibility.

The night was then stolen by Tamara Rojo and Cesar Corrales (baby daddy status) from English National Ballet. They performed the pas de deux from Le Corsaire which ENB just did. It was so impressive. He was so impressive. From his ENB’s emerging artist performance to skyrocketing through the company, Cesar Corrales might just be ballet next Roberto Bolle. With the exception that he turns with his shoulders up. Tamara Rojo was beyond marvelous. Her technique was spotless and her triple fouettes were quite impressive as they came with ease. The audience adored them. Ovations galore, as they deserved it.

It was a great and exciting night as the young ballet bunheads of tomorrow screamed with admiration. It was a great, beautiful and crazy night. A night where young ballet hopefuls became even more inspired by ballet legends and royalty.

 


Thank you to all of my sponsors who helped me go cover the YAGP FINALS in NYC.

The Current Sessions: The Big Balloon. April 14 & 15 @ Wild Project (NYC)

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In the middle of the hustle and bustle of NYC, I found myself somewhere between peaceful intimacy and inspiration. Hosted by The Current Sessions, this community workshop was a preview of the TCS x Roya Carreras: The Big Balloon that goes on tonight. The workshop created such a sense of intimacy in the room and was beyond inspiring. Ms. Carreras walked the room through a series of exercises about giving and receiving yourself to one another, and how to create a pathway supported by resistance, conscious thought, and impulse reactions. Her soothing voice and intricate movements allowed for this juxtaposition of humanity and intimacy. The workshop was a preview of what her installation and performance will be tonight.

Roya Carreras holds her BFA in Dance from University of California, Irvine. This Iranian-Hispanic artist is not only classically trained in ballet, but uses a variety of genres, mediums, and thought processes to curate work. Learn more here.
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LAB // SESSIONS with Roya Carreras on April 12 partnered with Arts on Site and The Playground.

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Obviously, this is not ballet, but the idea of being able to connect, to be supportive, and to find yourself by carving out space is a much-needed concept in ballet. It was really inspiring and so delicate. The Current Sessions was founded by Alexis Convento, a classically trained dancer who holds her BFA in Dance from Fordham/Ailey.


Photos by me.

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.
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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.

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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

Ballet Under The Stars: Ballet Arizona

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Ballet Arizona, a company I named to watch two years ago, performed under the stars last night in Goodyear at a lakeside park. It was gorgeous. It rained that morning, so it was pretty cool in the evening, which was a nice break from the skin burning heat. Their program was the ACT II of IB Andersen’s La Bayadere, Alejandro Cerrudo’s PACOPEPEPLUTO, an outreach performance, and Balanchine’s Symphony in Three Movements. It promised to be beautiful evening… Plus there were food trucks… Who doesn’t love a loaded waffle? What is better than a loaded waffle? Watching Ballet and eating a loaded waffle. So, let us just dive right in… The evening started off to numerous technical difficulties… Which didn’t bother me, with the exception of all the crazy preschoolers getting wild on the grassy hill. The MC for the night was kind of annoying, and I feel like she didn’t know a lot about the ballet performances… It just was not very good, nor exciting… It didn’t help the mic kept cutting out… Anyways… onto the good stuff and bad stuff—

Bayadere: Jillian Barrell and Nayon Iovino took on Gamzatti and Solor… They were absolutely everything… which unfortunately is the only thing nice I can say about Bayadere. Because of the moisture or something there were a couple of minor slips. During the coda there was a slip/drop of a girl, and so on… Unfortunately, during the Italian fouettés Ms. Barrell didn’t get them in all the way… But she recovered ferociously… She was actually really nice to watch… They did this Indian dance…. it was awful… Bayadere is set in India but the costuming and choreography echoed Native American/African/Showboat… It was just not very well thought out and borderline came off as offensive— but the male corps was ferocious. The female corps of Gamzatti’s friends were turned out with beautiful feet but missing that special something of classical ballet. That elegance, or that refinement of Royal Ballet, the effortless joy of ABT or something… It is just missing the polishing… Alejandro Mendez performed Golden Idol which was nice. But the real standout was Nayon Iovino’s Solor variation. It was beast while the rest of the Bayadere was just… not entertaining. Which is funny because Bayadere is one of the only full length ballets I genuinely enjoy.

PACOPEPEPLUTO: Originally done on Hubbard street this contemporary ballet showcases three men set to Music by Dean Martin and Joe Scalissi. Paco was danced by Nayon Iovino and was nice but lacked quirkiness and seduction. Helio Lima danced Pepe which was beyond fantastic, mesmerizing to be exact: Body Articulation for days…. Alejandro Mendez danced Pluto and was wonderfully quirky, technically brilliant but seemed to lack wanting more. The piece is so short and usually, short contemporary pieces feel too short and you want more dancing… It just needed something else, I just can’t put my finger on it. Though, it was nice because they didn’t look like ballet dancers trying to do contemporary… They had gorgeous articulation and ambitious attack… Just didn’t leave me wanting more.

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They ended the evening with Symphony in Three Movements… Which scared me… Because after Bayadere I was dreading seeing another company botch a Balanchine Ballet… Buuut Arianna Martin and Helio Lima blew it out of the water. Mimi Tompkins was BEYOND GORGEOUS and was everything. She was partnered by Jackson Dwyer. Lauren Flower and Roman Zavarov were pretty spectacular as well. The black leotard couples though were the real stand out. Everything about these ten dancers was spot on. It was absolutely stunning. The corps of long-legged dancers in white leotards was gorgeous as well. It was extremely well danced, technically clean, and musicality was ferocious. Downside… Their company lacks ethnicity among their women… The women and men are extremely thin… Not just ballet thin, but it seems that Ib Andersen like extremely narrow/flat torsos. The company is extremely on the narrow side, and lacked the diversity of body types that you see in other companies. Everyone was extremely hypermobile with beautiful feet, not complaining… Just lacked diversity.

Overall, the performance was nice enough. The setting helped a lot and it was nice to have a night off. Ballet Arizona will be performing the full-length La Bayadere 27-30 with the Phoenix Symphony ad Symphony hall.

THE DYNAMIC DUO ON PNB’s American Stories

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This is the first review for the Dynamic Duo and they knock it out of the park. It is like having a conversation with your friends after a ballet performance… but better… because by day they are kick butt engineers for Boeing… and by night they are former ballerinas, turned balletomanes, turned ballet reviewers. Personally, I want to thank them for joining  a Ballet Education, basically for free… It is a lot of work to review a ballet performance… not to mention have me as your editor… So, here they take on Pacific Northwest Ballet‘s 6/12/2016 performance of American Stories.

By: Colette Posse and Susie Boyland (pictured below L to R)

dynamic duo dance review

By: Colette Posse and Susie Boyland

The first of three pieces was Jerome Robbins’ Fancy Free, which portrays three sailors on shore leave during WWII in NYC as they interact with each other and flirt with passing women. 

Colette: American Stories was such a fun production to watch!

Susie: Having only vague memories of seeing Fancy Free years ago by a company I don’t remember, I was very much looking forward to seeing it again. Pacific Northwest Ballet did not disappoint!

Colette: Agreed! Seth Orza, Jonathan Porretta, and James Moore were fantastic actors and were just hilarious playing off of each other. I loved the attention to detail in their acting as well—like shaking hands behind their backs (toward the audience) when two of them would play a prank on the third. I didn’t know how you could get so much story telling out of such a simple plot setup—essentially just some guys and gals in a bar—but Robbins kept us entertained. Whether it was trying to impress the girls, competing with each other, or just messing around, there’s plenty of story throughout the piece. Jonathan Porretta was especially great in his solo with both his amazing jumps and funny demeanor.

Susie: Porretta’s solo was my favorite of the three, but overall PNB’s casting of the sailors was excellent. Coupled with their outstanding technique and bravado, they played their characters the way that they were meant to be played. Fancy Free is humorous, and these three gentlemen succeeded in making the audience laugh frequently.

Colette: Though the women were not as featured, Noelani Pantastico stood out and really knew how to use body language and facial expressions to tell a story.

Susie: Her name always makes me think of the word “fantastic” and deservedly so!  Noelani matched both the acting abilities and technical proficiency of the men. The three sailors fought for her attention, teasing her by tossing her purse around; though that scene with three men tossing a woman’s purse around on a dark city street while she tries desperately to retrieve it did make me slightly uncomfortable. Sarah Ricard Orza joined Noelani partway through and is one of my favorite PNB dancers. She seems to be underrated but I find her to be a more compelling performer than many of the company’s principal dancers. I am always glad to see her in featured roles!  Her lines are beautiful, her acting is great, and she is always a joy to watch. Near the end, we got to see Elle Macy display her acting abilities as well. Her part in the ballet was short, but she exuded sensuality, causing the men to “ooh” and “ah” over her resulting in a comical end to the piece.

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The second piece in the show, George Balanchine’s Square Dance, was a piece inspired by several types of partnering dances, including its namesake.

Colette: Despite its title, Square Dance was still quite classical both musically and choreographically. I’m a big Vivaldi fan, so this worked for me ☺

Susie: Haha, I am NOT a Vivaldi fan, but thankfully the beautiful dancing distracted me from the music!  I was a bit confused at first as to why a ballet set to music by Vivaldi and Corelli and danced in leotards, skirts, and pointe shoes was called Square Dance, but it soon became clearer: it was a ballet slightly influenced by square dancing even though there was no literal square dancing involved.  Kyle Davis was generally the “caller” who would perform a step and then the group of dancers behind him would repeat that step. Leta Biasucci often took on this role too.

Colette: Ah I see what you’re saying. I liked that this was a high-energy piece with a TON of petit allegro—props to the dancers for making it through this, let alone making it look easy. The clear standout here was Leta Biasucci. Everything she did was just ON POINT (or should I say en pointe?). She was crisp, clean, and made her steps look huge despite her small stature. Balanchine would be proud!

Susie: Nice pun ☺ I doubt there is anyone in frequent attendance of PNB’s performances who doesn’t know that Leta Biasucci is a rising star. Her technique is incredibly polished and I didn’t see any errors on her part throughout the entire piece. Her upper body is always calm and poised while her lower body is crisp and faultless; i.e. exactly what my ballet teachers always wanted from us. She’s not the typical PNB dancer, i.e. tall women with legs for days, but that contrast she provides against the others makes her stand out in a positive light. When watching Leta, I never doubt that she is going to successfully complete a turn, while the same cannot be said for most of the company. Sometimes there are even principal dancers at PNB who will fall out of a double pirouette. For the record, I love PNB’s principal dancers, but just because they have attained the highest rank doesn’t necessarily mean that they are necessarily the best dancers in the company.

Colette: Definitely.  I also like that PNB has diversity in terms of skills; I can see that each dancer has his/her specialties and that really works to the company’s advantage in attaining a varied repertoire. That keeps gems like Leta from being overlooked!

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Waiting at the Station portrays a man as he attempts to connect with his son and pass on his steps before he must surrender to the three gilded Fates that seek him out.

Colette: Waiting at the Station was probably my favorite piece of the night. Based on the description alone I thought it’d be identical to Fancy Free, but boy was I wrong! Every aspect of this piece was so well-done. The 1940s jazz music and the dynamic choreography were so fun I wanted to get up and dance it myself. Twyla Tharp put an excellent jazzy spin on ballet here. The ensemble constantly dancing in the background made the piece feel like it was moving at a fast pace while the various stories unfolded downstage. The vignettes were even more numerous here than in Fancy Free—I had to pay close attention to all parts of the stage to catch everything that was going on!

Susie: I’m glad you were able to somewhat figure out what was going on because I had no idea until afterwards!  Based on the title of this ballet I was confused at first when the set didn’t look all that station-like, except for perhaps the clock in the corner, but I stopped caring about that too much shortly after that thought passed through my mind because this ballet was fun and highly enjoyable. In retrospect, I suppose the “station” was a metaphor for the end of life. I probably should’ve done a better job reading the program before this ballet started – oops.

Colette: I don’t blame you; I only understood because I had glanced at the program first. I liked the life metaphors though. In addition, the three gilded fates (Chelsea Adomaitis, Elle Macy, and Sarah Pasch) were especially fun to watch. All three ladies were unafraid to make big, sweeping movements but kept them clean and in sync.

Susie: I called them the “Golden Mushrooms” based on their costumes, and for all I understood about the story at that point, they could’ve been playing mushrooms. They were a great trio and whether mushrooms, fates, or something else entirely, I enjoyed watching them.

Colette: The only criticism I have of this piece was the somewhat awkward partnership of Laura Tisserand and Jonathan Porretta. By themselves they each were able to show off their strengths: Laura’s long, beautiful lines; and Jonathan’s quickness and great character acting. Together however, it seemed like they struggled a bit and had to be more careful since she was so much taller than he. They made the best of a difficult situation, though.

Susie: Yeah, I’d second that. It was a bit awkward. James Moore, however, was the opposite of awkward and should do a stint on Broadway at some point in his career! This style suited him very well and he has a talent for capturing an audience. The “father and son” storyline between James and Price Suddarth was a bit hard to believe since they aren’t more than 5-10 years apart in age in “real life”, but they both possess a solid ability to play a character role. At the end, James Moore rode off into the distance on the front of a train: finally giving a literal sense to the metaphor that the ballet was about, and leaving me a bit less confused than I was when it started.

Colette: The piece overall was a great way to close the PNB season!

Photos provided by these two gorgeous ladies

For more information Pacific Northwest Ballet click here.
If you are in the Seattle area… don’t forget that the 2016/2017 season tickets are already on sale!

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English National Ballet’s Emerging Dancer 2016

A social commentary on ENB’s Emerging dance program… So I am watching ENB’s Emerging Dance LIVE… and I am not trying to say I told you so again, but I am totally saying I told you so again… Rina and Cesar killed that sh!t…

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Okay, so the live streaming worked great for me, no problems, but I know whenever I am going to live stream I plug in my ethernet able and don’t rely on wifi… Mmmm so six talented dancers selected by their colleagues competed this year: Isabelle Brouwers, Cesar Corrales, Rina Kanehara, Jeanette Kakareka, Daniele Silingardi, and Erik Woolhouse.
Three grand pas de deuxs were selected: Talisman, Black Swan and Diane and Acteon. Then it began…

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Isabelle Brouwers and Erik Whoolhouse took on Talisman…
It is hard going first in a competition, no one wants to but someone has to do it. Unfortunately for these young two dancers, nerves got the best of them in the pas, and caused the variations to be safe and complacent. And by the end of the coda, he was tired and couldn’t do the full press lift… Which I totally get… It is exhausting, and you probably didn’t sleep well the night before… Nerves. Pacing yourself… it all plays into a factor.

Then Jeanette Kakareka and Daniele Silingardi took on Black Swan…
The pas de deux was gorgeous. Jeanette’s body makes some of the most beautiful lines I have ever seen. Her body makes lines that rival Svetlana Zakarhova’s. No joke. The pas de deux was enticing, and sensual. Then I think nerves got to Mr. Silingardi in his variation causing his turns to be off, and a lot of falling out. Her variation was gorgeous, and luscious but lacked a lot of audience connection. The coda, he became more unstable, but she rocked it out. I don’t know how she turns with those feet, that hyperextension and hypermobility… she must do some serious pilates or something.

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Finally, Rina Kanehara and Cesar Corrales performed Diane and Acteon…
And they freakin slayed. From her opening emboîtés… to his extremely sound partnering skills… She was 10 times better than at the prix (2015), and 1000 times more than at the YAGP… Like no joke, stunning. She is also the youngest member at ENB. HE freaking nailed the variation to a point that was insane. His turns are super powerful, and clean… It was insane. His performance quality, and bravura really did outshow the other to male competitors…
She became a little off in the turns but covered it so well, and was so precise with EVERYTHING! Like she no joke had the best audience connection and playfulness, her dynamic is just so incredible. LIKE everything….. Her fouettés on the diagonal… with that crazy arm change… fierce. His turns and jumps… baby daddy status… okay he is also extremely handsome. His variation was insane with the series of jumps he did, but his coda was EVERYTHING.

Then the contemporary solos started for the night:
Mr. Whoolhouse performed Eros Redux by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa- danced so much better… soooooo nice and relaxed, his body is really interesting when moving contemporary… his arms and legs are so long and fluid. I’ve noticed a lot of the men of ENB have these extremely elongated bodies that are really interesting to watch.
Isabelle Brouwers took on a new work by Charlotte Edmonds- did not like this piece what so ever… and the unitard was … yucky
Daniele Silingardi took on Spring and Fall by John Neumeier, he danced so lovely… so pleasant and carefree it was nice. A really nice redeeming moment.
Jeanette Kakareka took on Requiem for a Rose by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa.This is a very hard variation/solo for anyone, so I don’t know how smart it was for a young dancer to take it on… She did a great job though… really interesting take on it.
Cesar Corrales took on Congrabajo para Hombre by Julio Lopez with music by Astor Piazzolla (one of my favorite composers) danced gorgeously, manly, body for days, and I think he connected to it well.
Rina Kanehara took on Les Ballet’s de Monte-Carlo’s Black Swan by Jean-Christophe Maillot. It is to the black swan music but contemporary… it was definitely cute and dynamic buuuuut she could have taken on something with more depth like the others…

It is now intermission while the judges decide… and now I am going to talk about what happened in the chat room, that corresponded with it… SanFranBallet made a comment about it being a sporting event and that we shouldn’t critique dancers blow by blow and enjoy them… Which is totally fair…. but this is a competition streamed worldwide, and everyone is looking at these dancers for principal potential, dynamic dancing and a source of inspiration… So, when it comes to competitions, if there are technical flaws…. yes, they are easy to point out and spectators, myself included, come down hard on the dancer… Ironically, being inconsistent as a performer causes a company to not renew a contract… so… I dunno…  Other power players showed up to online chat, USC’s new Kaufman dance program showed up. — Daria Klimentova, former principal at ENB showed up, which she retired to the same Romeo and Juliet PDD performed below. Sara Murawski from Slovak National Ballet showed up online among others.

Then the program concluded with Laurretta Summerscales* and Max Westwell , people’s favorite* from last year who is now a Principal… They danced Romeo and Juliet PDD which was gorgeous, and refreshing because they don’t do the MacMillan version they do Nureyev’s… And I am just gunna say, that she didn’t win the competition but is now a Principal dancer… It isn’t always about winning, but experience and consistency and it showed here tonight… how much a dancer grows… changes… and can accomplish in a year. Her performance tonight was stunning and breathtaking and her dancing has changed drastically. A good Juliet dances as if she is in love, reckless and all consumed at the same time…
Then Jinhao Zhang** performed Corsaire’s Pas D’esclave who won last year’s emerging artist** with Shiori Kase. The partnering was gorgeous, and he has grown a lot as a dancer and a partner as well…. and he’s a freakin tall Asian…. 🙂 Ummm the costuming was kind of ugly but the choreo was great, and they danced so beautifully together… it was just distracting to see that ugliness… but the dancing is sooo stunning, I guess it doesn’t matter.

The Corps de Ballet Award went to: Jennie Harrington
People’s Choice Award: Cesar Corrales
And the Emerging Dancer Award 2016 went to Cesar Corrales
So, the super fierce Cesar won, which means he will be either promoted very soon, or he will change companies… Who knows… Just another star to follow in the universe of ballet… We shall see…

10 Things Ballet Students Should Have…

Things that everyone should have in their dance bag, or readily available.

  1. A foot roller or stretcher.
  2. A theraband, deflated tire tube, or something else elasticy.thera band ballet mundo bailarinistico
  3. Ibprofen, icy hot, or biofreeze. Whether it is for maintenance or prevention, it is smart to just have these. From overworking in class, to muscles and joints locking up, it is always smart to be prepared.
  4. Needle and thread. There is nothing worse than your elastics snapping.
  5. Something to keep you warm: a onsie is my preference. Leg warmers, full length leg warmers, ankle warmers, shrugs etc…

    Rubia Dancewear by Boston Ballet Principal Dancer Ashley Ellis. (moderately priced for custom pieces)
    Rubia Dancewear by Boston Ballet Principal Dancer Ashley Ellis. (moderately priced for custom pieces) Click the pic above to custom order. 
  6. Extra dance clothes. Don’t want to be sweaty gross.
  7. Extra pairs of shoes, for girls always have a good sewn pair with you, just in case the ones you currently are working in die.

    PBT on Pinterest.
    PBT on Pinterest.
  8. A good book.
  9. Hair and beauty supplies, this includes a towel. I always brought face wash because I had acne problems.
  10. A notebook for corrections. I still have all of mine and are fun to look at.