The Great Men of Ballet: Part 1

Some men in ballet will be immortalized for their achievements and the genius that they created. In this first set of illustrations, I decided to capture some of the great men who have contributed to the New York City Ballet. As I illustrated these, I listened to the music that inspired them, and thought, Peter Martins should have been the third in this series, but I am just not fond of him, what he has done in his personal life and not a fan of his choreography. So, I focused on the men of New York City Ballet who I do admire: George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins and Justin Peck.

George Balanchine
1904-1983
Co-Founder of the School of American Ballet and New York City Ballet

Jerome “Jerry” Robbins
1918-1998
American Dance Master

Justin Peck
1987- 
American Dance Master
Resident Choreographer

Prints Available on Redbubble. You can order the prints, posters, metallic prints, or fine art frames. You can click here to purchase

For the George Balanchine prints and more >> Click Here.
For the Jerome Robbins prints and more >> Click Here.
For the Justin Peck prints and more >> Click Here.

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5 Things to Be Thankful For…

Thanksgiving is a time for Americans to sit back, relax, surround themselves with family and friends and reflect on the past year. Over pumpkin pie and spiked apple cider, we express our thankfulness with as much sincerity as possible. (Unless you are icing and sleeping in because you are about to open a 30 show run of Nutcracker.)And for some, they take to Facebook and write such a long, in-depth, heart warming post that we must all comment with cute little emoji. There are many things to be thankful for this year, especially in the world of ballet. So, here we go: 5 Things to be Thankful for…

1. Christopher Wheeldon won the Tony for an American in Paris for best choreography.

2. Justin Peck. I don’t need to say more. (I could include the whole list of emerging choreographers, but he is the one who started this new growing movement of young choreographers. Plus, I called it.)

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3. Misty Copeland and Stella Abrera becoming the first African-American and Philippino principal dancers at American Ballet Theatre.

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4. Dancers are becoming self-motivated and active entrepreneurs. This year we saw a lot of small up and coming brands started by dancers for dancers boom this year. Rubia Wear,Elevé Dancewear, Lulli, etc.

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5. Finally, last but not least: SOCIAL MEDIA. Without you we would be extremely bored, our businesses would fail, we wouldn’t have a billion followers, and ballet wouldn’t have as much exposure as it does currently.

 

 

Ballet Needs to Stop Making Me Mad Late at Night…

#BLOOP …

Carlos Renteria, Redlands Dance Theatre. Photographed by Alexandra Rose, SOCIAL CULTURE
Carlos Renteria, Redlands Dance Theatre. Photographed by Alexandra Rose, SOCIAL CULTURE

Tonight I was reminded why I started my blog…. (http://aballeteducation.com/2014/07/07/firstpost)
Then… as the 2015-2016 season is being announced, once again I am like flabbergasted and irritated with ballet. Here is what is irritating me tonight, at 5 AM. Preface: I am up all night because on October 3rd I will be partnering up with SF FASHION to showcase my new fashion brand MONDEAN.  And tonight all of the sketches had to be finalized (as in fabric choices, colors etc) to be prepped for technicals, and pattern drafting. BTW, if any of you are in Southern California and are a seamstress… contact me please… I am short seamstresses…  So anyways, I am about to go to bed, and I open up my computer and go through my press releases…

First, I would like to congratulate everyone who was promoted… Especially Lauren Lovette, who is now a principal at NYCB. Anthony Huxley was promoted to principal as well, which makes me raise an eyebrow, because of the male soloists at NYCB, I thought Stanley Huxley would be the next to be promoted Principal… I dunno. SFB hired 3 amazeball students, all who finished well at previous YAGPs. Boom. Allynne Noelle, a principal at LA Ballet will be joining Suzanne Farrell for the upcoming season. ABT said farewell to Xiomara Reyes, and Paloma Herrera. We say goodbye to Julie Kent June 20. With three female principals leaving, ABT is bound to announce promotions… and new hires *grin, I’m actually happy about* I wouldn’t be surprised if they offered Maria Kochetkova a full-time contract, because she is like ideal height for Cornejo and Simkin… I don’t know how SFB would feel, but since SFB is full of promising stars… It might be a good thing? Misty Copeland will premier in Romeo and Juliet on June 20 prior to Kent’s farewell, then make her NYC Swan Lake debut June 24…. So, I am thinking her and Stella Abbrera will get promoted. (Stella had a phenom run at Giselle) Natalia Osipova withdrew from her debut as Juliet for ABT which has a star studded juliet cast: Obraztsova, Vishneva, Copeland, Seo, and Kent (retiring). I swear if Sarah Lane is promoted I am boycotting ABT even if ABT is hiring more asians.

We also said farewell to beast Sylvie and one of my favorite ballerinas of all time: Carla Korbes. If you missed the live stream… you missed out on Diamonds Pas De Deux… Serenade was good but I have seen better. Diamonds was flawless…… The only people who should be doing the PDD are: Korbes, who is now retired… If you saw the performance though she slayed the F*ck out of it.  Smirnova who won the Benois for that performance, its magical. If you haven’t seen her do it, they go on tour with it this summer, or just watch via youtube. M. Nunez was pretty interesting at Royal Ballet. I don’t know if the company should be doing Balanchine ballets, but… what eva… Just like Paris Opera should not be doing Serenade… at ALL…. Like ever.

The ballet world was faced with Angel Corrella‘s (I should not even put his name in bold) new tenure at PA Ballet… barf. His statement was awful, his wording was not ideal… and when he means diversify culturally, he means he is going to hire a bunch of latino dancers, when there are plenty of dancers in the states who need work and don’t need visa fees #justsayin . Which was already proven with his new soloist and principal. I am sure everyone in the company is irritated… I’m irritated… Like seriously, go home.

Oh, NYCB just released their new choreography initiative and I am not saying I called it, but I kind of did… Myles Thatcher from SFB will be making his premier at NYCB… Royal Ballet will be staging a new Carmen by Carlos Acosta, and now has a new choreographer program. I should apply for next year. LOL.

Mmmmm people who should have been promoted weren’t. Ballet companies are irritating me, but thats not new.  Tuesday morning was the first company class for Redlands Dance Theatre, my ballet company. The studios were hot and the mood was fun, but everyone danced really hard, very musical, and gorgeous. It was super nice.  I totally forgot to take a picture, which upsets me, but oh well. #mybad

What else? I’m exhausted, and have photo shoots in a couple hours for SOCIAL CULTURE, so I am probably not going to sleep, this will be day 4 of being awake and only sleeping for an hour here and there. I could just be super moody because I have quit smoking. Mmmm that is all ballet world… So irritated.

Ballets to Buy

This week there are a couple great new DVDs to get.  NYCB’s Ballet 422 about Justin Peck’s premier. And ABT’s PBS Modern Masters, plus the book! If you buy all 3, you are roughly looking at 100 bucks, but well worth it.

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Update: Our June Issue is a little behind, I’ve had a lot going on at work, and some health issues.
If you haven’t seen the MODREN MASTERS you can see the whole special below.
http://video.pbs.org/viralplayer/2365487888

The Best of the Best… Ballet Company Awards 2014 (2013-2014 Season)

If Ballet Companies had an awards ceremony to go to, it would be the Golden Globes. It wouldn’t be the Oscars, even if it is the most glamorous event. This is because the Oscars are voted on by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science, we basically have that from the Princess Grace Awards and the Prixs for that.  If dancers were to vote on other dancers and companies, then it would be the SAGs.  The Golden Globes are voted on by the Hollywood Foreign Press, and I feel like that in itself says it all. The power of press and publicity goes a long way, not to mention that the opinions of editors dictate the content featured. But, that isn’t what makes the Golden Globes so special, it is the fact that the mission of the Hollywood Foreign Press is to make films accessible to the general public by unbiased information and reviews. So, as I compiled a list of companies worth noting this year, the list grew rather large, so I decided to make categories, just like any awards ceremony. Because ballet is constantly changing, I needed to create categories that would allow flexibility, change and innovation. So, here are the categories that I felt represented the art form as a whole, and as a reflection of a company:

So without further ado… The Envelopes Please…

Best Premiere of a new work

The New York City Ballet, in PAZ de LA JOLLA, by choreographer Justin Peck. 

(Nominees: Daphnis and Chloe, Paris Opera, Choreographed by Millpied. Lest We Forget Program from English National Ballet)

 

Best Repertory for the season.

Headed by Benjamin Millpied and Bridgette Lefevre, Paris Opera Ballet once again had a ridiculous season including: La Dame Aux Camelias/Neumeier, Dances at a Gathering/Robins, Psyche/Ramatsky, Le Park/Prelojac, Notre-Dame De Paris/Petit, the Sleeping Beauty/Nureyev, Doux Mensonges/ Kylian, Daphnis and Chloe/Millpied,Orpheus and Eurydice/ Bausch just to name a few. During the season during Onegin, Amandine Albisson received her place as an etoiles for her role in Tatiana.

(Nominees: San Francisco Ballet, the New York City Ballet, National Ballet of Canada)

 

Best reprisal of a classic work.

This award goes to the Bolshoi Ballet in their rendition of Balanchine’s Jewels. With sets designed by Alyona Pikalova, Costumes by Elena Zaitseva and lighting by Maxim Fomchenkov, this production hands down belongs to them. Their rendition of Jewels is probably the best I have ever seen. This also won Olga Smirnova Prix Benois de la danse.

(Nominees: Houston Ballet’s Modern Masters, Queensland Ballet’s MacMillan’s Romeo and Juliet, Teatro La Scala for Serata Petit)

 

Technical Excellence from a company.

Amidst the craziness of the circus, Hamburg Ballet featuring Alina Cojocaru, the Hamburg Ballet’s strength shown through. Lilliom was performed in Orange County this February making their North American premiere, the world premiere was in 2011. John Neumeier’s choreography was not only innovating but showcased a ballet revolving around a man without having a million show off pirouettes. Not only was the work modern and innovative, but the entire companies’ classical background showed through and through, all seven scenes and a prologue.

(Nominees: National Ballet of Cuba, Vienna State Ballet, Dresdon Semproper Ballet)

 

Best Costuming for a performance 

This award goes to The Australian Ballet’s new production of Cinderella. The costumes and sets were designed by Jérôme Kaplan. The new production was choreographed by Alexei Ratmansky to the original Prokofiev Score.

 

Best Collaboration

Dutch National Ballet stole fashion week during the SS2014 Paris shows with their collaboration with Viktor & Rolf in Haute Couture. In addition, Dutch National Ballet has comprised numerous collaborations through out the 2013-2014 season like their premiere of the Tempest that included amazing collaborators, and their new moves program, and Dutch Doubles. Four choreographers were paired with four world-famous Dutch artists: fashion designers, photographers and musicians.

(Damian Woetzel, Artistic Director of the Vail International Dance Festival, Julia Adam’s for the Boathouse Project, )

 

Most Innovative Company.

San Francisco Ballet’s season took it home. While contemporary companies create new works constantly, innovation has to be supported with stability and diversity. San Francisco Ballet definitely hit it out of the park with Giselle, Wheeldon’s Cinderella, Ratmansky’s Trilogy, Borderlands by McGregor, Wheeldon’s Ghosts, and the premiere of a Liam Scarlett ballet, and a premiere from and Possokhov. Not to mention they threw in Balanchine, Robins for giggles. San Francisco Ballet also has continued their relationship Hamburg Ballet by hosting them as a part of their season.

(Tu Dance, Hamburg Ballet, Complexions, Eifman Ballet, Scottish Ballet, Prelojac)

 

Most Inspiring Company.

English National Ballet, headed by Tamara Rojo might just be the most inspiring ballet company in the world right now. With their previous innovations, despite their financial downfalls, the English National Ballet had an amazing season. Most noted I think was their performance at Glastonbury, which was breathtaking. It was a piece from their Lest We Forget program. You can actually watch the video online. Then they stunned audiences again at their Emerging Artists Competition with contemporary solos to die for. Raging reviews for not only the winners, but all of the competitors this past season.

(Miami City Ballet under Lourdes Lopez, Royal Ballet of Flanders )

 

Company Contribution to the World of Arts.

In the province of Dresdon it seems a lot is happening in dance, but this award goes to the Forsythe Company. Founded in 2005, after Ballett Frankfurt closed, this company has create new works that hope to survive for the next generation of artists. In addition, William Forsythe will be joining the faculty at University of Southern California in the fall of 2015. He is not the artistic director of the Forsythe Company. But, this international group of dancers has created and performed tremendously. As in the middle, somewhat elevated has survived hopefully this next crop of choreographers will be nurtured accordingly to contribute to ballet’s repertory.

(Ballet Black, the New York City Ballet because of Justin Peck)

 

New or Returning Presence to the International Ballet Community, 

The Korean National Ballet might just be joining the rest of the newer asian companies on the rise. Like National Ballet of China, Ballet Philippines and Hong Kong Ballet, Asian companies are on the rise. The Korean National Ballet is headed by former Stuttgart Principal Kang Sue Jin, and she is leading them artistic merits. With the way education is structured in Korea, it is surprising to find out that everyone in their company is a college graduate and didn’t join the company until their early 20’s, versus say other companies that hire 16-18 year olds. Their rosters are filled with tons of international dance winners, in fact 9-10 company members have medaled at an international dance competition.

Joburg Ballet (South Arica), Dance Theatre of Harlem, Pacific Northwest Ballet



 

Creating ten categories that reflect the nature of ballet companies, not individuals, was rather difficult.  The size of the company, the theatre residency, and location would not effect the final outcomes. Here is information on how I graded companies: I only looked at the 2013-2014 performance season, individual dancers within the company, and artistic achievement based on reviews and press releases. Social media did not influence the choices. It seriously has taken a month to compile information, read reviews, and watch as much as I could. So, without categories my list would be: The New York City Ballet, Paris Opera, Bolshoi, Hamburg, the Australian Ballet, Dutch National Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, English National Ballet, the Forsythe Company, Korean National Ballet.

I was not going to single out dancers, because there are other numerous prestigious dance awards out there that grade artistic merit. As European Ballerina’s pray for Prima Assoluta, Paris Opera dancers pray for Etoiles, people hope for the Princess Grace Awards or the Benois… The list goes on. But notably last season: Ogla Smirnova, James Whiteside, Evgenia Obrazsova, Hee Seo, Tiler Peck, and Sara Mearns all had pretty amazing seasons on the international stages. As Olga Smirnova isn’t even a principal yet, and Hee Seo just got her promotion last season they are two women to definitely watch. Evgenia Obraztsova makes her way next to other Russian powerhouses: Svetlana Zakharova, and Natalia Osipiva, Polina Semionova, and Diana Vishneva. Balanchine ballerinas Tiler Peck and Sara Mearns are both competing I think to be the star at NYCB. Both are crazy different in approach, body type and musicality, but watching them dance is addicting. Both have literally grown up on stage. James Whiteside definitely gets to be next to Roberto Bolle and Daniil Simkin at ABT, but rightfully so, he is stud on stage…  This year, I haven’t really seen any men that steal my heart… Well actually, the men of English National Ballet’s Emerging Artists were pretty amazing.

Also, as I just finished writing this I realized Royal Ballet didn’t really make anything… Truth me told I wasn’t impressed with their season, and because my anger at the Royal Ballet this blog was originally started… So…. Haha.

The Race for Balanchine’s Spot in History… replacing Mr. B

replacing balanchine

The 20th Century had George Balanchine, among other great choreographers (You may start reaming me now for using Balanchine as my choreographer of the 20th Century…) But since Balanchine, Massine, and the Diaghilev/ Ballets Russes eras… Who has filled their shoes? Who will be the next choreographer to go down in history and have a repertory that will survive generations. In retrospect, as NYCB has no dancer currently dancing who ever danced for Balanchine, officially closing an era, and hoping that the repertory lives on… I move on to my point… Who, in 50 years will we be able to see their ballets/works that were created for this generation of dancers. John Cranko has Onegin, which will probably live forever. Sir Kenneth Macmillan has his set of ballets, all stemming from restaged versions… which still prove to be box office hits, as Queensland Ballet banked 1.1 Million in box office sales this week off of his dreamy version of Romeo and Juliet. (Literally, this week) Antony Tudor has his ballets… but more specifically La Dame aux camélias The Jerome Robins ballets will live forever, I hope. Jiří Kylián has a works, but his legacy of Petite Mort seems to be the survivor. The Forsythe ballets, in the Middle, Somewhat Elevated is a ballet that a million dancers dream about performing… A more recent choreographer John Neumeier has a plethora of works, but I think his stand out is the Little Mermaid. (honorable mention to Robert Joffrey, and Peter Martins’ ballets will live on through NYCB, though I really haven’t found one I am lovin… especially after that Romeo+Juliet disaster…) There are probably a few more that fit into that category of choreographers… But, what I am more excited about is the slew of choreographers right now who are building a very extensive repertory around the world. 🙂

There are the front runners…

Former director of the Bolshoi (good starting point if you ask me), Alexei Ratmansky.

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Benjamin Millepied, mentored by Jerome Robbins, former principal at NYCB, and now director of dance for Paris Opera Ballet… not bad…. (Natalie Portman’s baby daddy…okay, husband)

Then there is the ever popular Christopher Wheeldon, who won a gold medal at the Prix de Lausanne, was a soloist for NYCB. His ever popular works are growing and growing, his full length ballets are always so beautiful and so thoughtful.

The Movement Explorers

lines ballet repertory

Power duo Dwight Rhoden and Desmond Richardson have made a cozy little spot for themselves in the contemporary world, but I also think have very strong ballets. Alonzo King would fit into this category too… but I don’t really see any other companies performing his repertory, granted most of them can only be performed with asian warriors, african tribal drummers, and beautifully mastered props/sets. (By the way, most of my favorite works are contemporary works.)

And two very unexpected, very young talents….

Justin Peck has created gorgeous ballets for NYCB, and he is definitely on the rise for becoming a stand out choreographer, and he is still a soloist at NYCB, so young and just named resident choreographer… The only other person who has held that title at NYCB is Christopher Wheeldon.

On the west coast, Myles Thatcher at San Francisco Ballet, a corps member seems to be making a splash in the ballet world as well with his choreography for SFB’s student showcases. Again another very young, very talented man. Liam Scott for ABT is about to do another world premier for their new season.

There is also the rise of the choreographers coming from PNB.

I am sure I left off a million other names both current and past, and future…. but these are who I am excited for. It is exciting and scary at the same time to think that the direction of ballet is changing so fast, and so rapidly. What category of a ballet once was the Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake, joined by Rodeo, Serenade and Afternoon of the Faun, has now been joined by in the Middle, Somewhat Elevated, Petit Mort, and Bolero. See I added De Mille and Roland Petit, Nureyev and others… Now the question is, whose repertory will be so vast and diverse, as well as survive generations?

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Mauro Bigonzetti’s Reflections Project for Bolshoi