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By Wendy Perron
Hearts and eyes. The heart speaks through the eyes. You can see that in our cover shot of Bridgett Zehr and Zdenek Konvalina. Not only are they rising stars of National Ballet of Canada, but they are in love. Both from modest beginnings, they’ve helped each other through the transition from Houston Ballet to National Ballet of Canada. Read Michael Crabb’s “Northern Lights” on how their partnership has ignited in Toronto, with a roaring ovation for their recent debut in Swan Lake.
Hearts and eyes appear elsewhere in this issue, too. The ever adventurous Evan McKie, principal dancer at Stuttgart Ballet in Germany, has been obsessed with heart-pounding, “puffy” ballets. He feels that dancers secretly relish the challenge of testing their limits, so he knocked on the doors of several of his pals, who happen to be top dancers in Europe and the U.S. In his “(Literally) Breathtaking,” they trade thrillingly gruesome stories about surviving these “cardio ballets.”
Often the difference between a good dancer and a great one is in the eyes. How a dancer uses her eyes onstage reveals the emotions as well as involvement with the movement. We can’t give you a recipe for how to become a great dancer, but we can bring you backstage to the dressing rooms of three of them. In “The Eyes Have It,” the legendary Allegra Kent talks to Sara Mearns of New York City Ballet, Stella Abrera of American Ballet Theatre, and Annmaria Mazzini of Paul Taylor Dance Company.
Dancing with his heart and seeing the world with his eyes, Ronald K. Brown has come up with a luscious new blend of movement idioms. But wait—it’s not so new: His company, Evidence, turns 25 this month. They are celebrating with a retrospective concert at Harlem Stage that includes the critically hailed Two-Year-Old Gentlemen. In “Spirit Made Visible,” Karyn D. Collins reveals how the young Ron Brown was headed for a career in journalism, but instead turned his storytelling skills to dance—and became one of our most edifying examples of the connection between body and soul.
Photo of Zehr and Konvalina by Matthew Karas