What You Missed This Weekend

If you were staying off social media this weekend to avoid Game of Thrones spoilers, you might have missed some awesome ballet news. This weekend a seemed to be the weekend that ballet became even more awesome. ABT’s principal dancer, and longtime music fanatic James Whiteside (JBDUBS) released a new video that is all inclusive and gender neutral.

Septime Webre is on a streak this month. From his Benois nominations, to his newest video campaign for Hong Kong Ballet’s 40th Season.

Hong Kong Ballet 40th Anniversary Season Brand Video from Design Army on Vimeo.

NYCB soloist Unity Phelan made it onto the big screen in Keanu Reeves’ new movie: John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum. She dances choreo by Tiler Peck, putting another A-List project on her CV.

And to top it off… Mikhail Baryshnikov gave the keynote speech for the inaugural class of the USC Glorya Kaufman School of dance. Four years later, USC has produced a graduating class that rivals any tier one contemporary school.

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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

curtain
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.

BALANCHINE FEST!!! WATCH ASAP BEFORE IT GETS TAKEN DOWN LOL….

I don’t know who Joanne Cowley is… or how she got away with it… so enjoy while you can…

With debut performances by leads Tiler Peck, Amar Ramasar and Lauren King. Performance February 17, 2016.

Cast has leads Sara Mearns, Ask la Cour and Savannah Lowery. Performed 2/16/16

Most of Peter Martins’ staging of La Sylphide with cast:
The Sylph: Tiler Peck
James: Andrew Veyette
Madge Gwyneth Muller
Effie: Lauren King
Gurn: Troy Schumacher
James Mother: Marika Anderson
performed the evening of 2/14/16.

Theme:
1.Megan Le Crone, Cameron Dieck
2. Lauren King, Daniel Appelbaum
3. Ashley Laracey, Justin Peck

Melancholic: Anthony Huxley
Sanguinic: Ana Sophia Scheller, Jared Angle
Phlegmatic: Ask la Cour
Choleric: Teresa Reichlen

Published on Feb 13, 2016

First movement recorded 2/7/16. The remainder recorded 2/3/16. The leads are Tiler Peck and Andrew Veyette of NYCB.

Published on Jan 31, 2016

First 3 movements performed 1/26/16. Fourth movement and finale performed 1/20/16. Cast:
1st movement: Megan Fairchild, Gonzalo Garcia
2nd movment: Theresa Reichlen, Tyler Angle
3rd movement: Erica Pereira, Antonio Carmena
4th movment: Brittany Pollack, Taylor Stanley

 

The American Ballerina: the 21st century prima

The American Ballerina in the 21st century

What truly does it mean to be an American Ballerina? 
The idea of an American Ballerina isn’t far fetched at all, and actually since the cold war, America has become one of greatest manufacturers of ballet dancers.  While up until the Cold War, ballet was dominated by the Russians.  The history of ballet is funny, because as each generation of prima ballerinas comes to the forefront, they are influenced by culture, society, and what is “popular” in ballet. Today, we are blessed with the wonders of youtube and ballet in cinema, so we can see a variety of ballet dancers instantaneously. So, as a reflection of culture, we now have a true generation of American Ballerinas.

So, we have to kind of set up some conditions that define an American Ballerina:

1. Born in the United States.
2. Trained in the United States.
3. Dances with an American Company.
4. Has achieved the rank of principal dancer.
5. Has contributed to the next generation of dancers.

As we are at a time in ballet that celebrates the most innovate choreography, the most brilliant music, and the most technical phase of ballet, there are two extraordinary women that come to mind:

Tiler Peck and Lia Cirio
Ironically, neither dancer has the typical ballet body type. When we say typical we mean Russian girl body type, or Paris Opera Body type.  Additionally, the two women are completely different.  These two women though have created a new space and new ideal for dance.  Tiler Peck has created a generation of a more jazz meets Balanchine dancer making it possible for competitive studio trained dancers transition into ballet companies and schools. While, Lia Cirio has created an athletic provocative archetype of a prima ballerina. The only two things these women really have in common is really good teeth and a really great smile

The Run Down on these women:

Tiler Peck: sporadic training in the greater Los Angeles area, transitioning to School of American Ballet, joined NYCB in 2004, became a principal in 2009. Gorgeous turns, and fills the stage. First was really seen in the welcome to SAB DVD. Balanchine trained. Subtle sensitivity and sweetness in her approach to roles.
lia cirio american ballerina

Lia Cirio: random school, transitioning to CPYB, joined Boston Ballet in 2004, became a soloist in 2007, joined the Trey McIntyre project, came back to BB in 2010 to become promoted to principal. Banging hyperextension, ferocious arabesque. First major appearance in ballet: YAGP 2003. Classically trained. A body articulate conscious approach to a role.

So what makes these two women stand out compared to say… Hee Seo or Maria Kotchekova? Well, besides the fact that both of these women aren’t born and raised in the US, they are both ridiculously Russian trained, which is gorgeous, I’m not saying that they are awful. I am saying that they fit previous archetype of what a prima ballerina is. While Hee Seo was groomed to take Julie Kent’s place, Maria Kotchekova became the standard of SFB’s short girl. While Misty Copeland has made the compelling presence and awareness of race in ballet, I don’t think her actual dancing is ground breaking. (sorry, I know I am going to hear shit for that) Then we have other leading women in the US: Carrie Imler at PNB creating the athletic look at PNB, Isabella Boylston at ABT has reinvented the Paloma Herrera, but with better arms. Maria Kowroski is like the Balanchine version of Sylvie. Wendy Whelan created the skinny fit athletic body archetype.

As these two women expand their repertory, who knows what they will create for the ballet world? It’s exciting.

In other ballet news: ABT: Paloma Herrera is getting a weird farewell with a matinee performance of Giselle, followed by Xiomara Reyes’s farewell at 7:30.  Totally getting gipped, but maybe her name just doesn’t sell seats? ABT’s PBS special AMERICAN MASTER Series was beyond gorgeous.
NYCB & SFB: have a ridiculously amount of talented people in the ranks of soloists and corps but won’t be promoted until others retire. *cough cough* hang up the pointe shoes *cough cough*
Paris Opera: Natalie Portman’s Baby Daddy is making amazing moves and changes at POB.
PNB: Please promote Leta already.
Atlanta Ballet: Had the most beautiful end to their season.
Milwaukee Ballet: Their version of Cinderella was an okay finish for the season.

Little Jessy is prepping for LA BALLET. Her go fund me is still up, any donations will go towards pointe shoes, leotards etc. http://www.gofundme.com/jessylaballet

Don’t forget to use the code SCIE15 for 15% off Eros Sportswear for Men.

The Guide to FiercenessMy guide to fierceness is almost done. Holla for a dolla!

Dream Casting…

Some have fantasy football… I have fantasy ballet nights. If I were going to die, I would cash out everything I own and have one super star studded night of good ballet. And, I probably would invite all of my friends and family as well. (That has yet to be decided) Now, with all of these international super star gala events… My lineup doesn’t seem that absurd, or impossible… But, if I had the chance to curate one night of magical goodness…. It would be:

Balanchine’s Serenade

Russian Girl: Tiler Peck, NYCB

Russian Girls: Whitney Jensen, Lia Cirio, Dusty Button, Misa Kuranaga – Boston Ballet

Waltz Girl: Hee Seo, ABT

Waltz Boy: Roberto Bolle

Dark Angel: Olga Smirnova, Bolshoi

Elegie Boy: Pete Leo Walker, Charlotte Ballet

Corps provided by Paris Opera

Balanchine’s Apollo

Apollo: Alexandre Hammoudi, American Ballet Theatre

Terpsichore: Me… for the sake of dancing with my Baby Daddy… Just kidding.  Julia Rowe San Francisco Ballet

Polyhymnia: Natalia Osipova, Royal Ballet

Calliope: Dorothee Gilbert, Paris Opera

Break

Matthew Bourne’s White Swan Pas De Deux

David Hallberg, Bolshoi/ABT

Fabrice Calmels, Jofferey

Esmeralda Female Variation

Svetlana Zakharova, Bolshoi

Giselle Second Act PDD

Giselle – Lucia Lacarra, Staatsballett

Albrecht – Kevin Jackson, Australian Ballet

Liza Variation from Who Cares?

Jeffery Cirio, Boston Ballet —— but instead of random tap steps can we do cool hip hop, or contemporary steps. Thanks.

A New Contemporary Solo choreographed by Benjamin Millepied 
Tiler Peck, NYCB

Onegin PDD

Steven Morse, San Francisco Ballet

Madison Keesler, English National Ballet

BREAK

PDD from Romeo and Juliet

Beckanne Sisk, Ballet West

James Whiteside, ABT

That would be some nimble biscuit dancing…

Le Palais de Cristal 

First Movement

Tiler Peck (NYCB) & Mathieu Ganio (Paris Opera)

PNB

Second Movement

Maria Kotchekova (SFB) & Amar Ramasar (NYCB)… i know height difference buuuut i think it would be like butter.

Bolshoi Ballet

Third Movement

Michaela Deprince (Het National Ballet) & Derek Dunn (Houston Ballet)

New York City Ballet

Fourth Movement

Patricia Zhou, Staatsballett and Jim Nowakowski  (Houston Ballet)

Paris Opera