Laurent Hilaire to Head the Stanislavsky Ballet
Laurent Hilaire. PC: TASS/Mitya Aleshkovsky Archive
Yesterday it was announced that former Paris Opéra Ballet étoile Laurent Hilaire will take over the artistic directorship of Moscow's Stanislavsky Ballet effective January 1, 2017. He replaces Igor Zelensky, who has taken over Munich's Bayerisches Staatsballett. (If that name sounds familiar: Yes, Zelensky is the director who took Sergei Polunin under his wing post-Royal Ballet.) Though Zelensky is officially staying on in an advisory capacity at the Stanislavsky through the remainder of the season, the former Mariinsky star has focused primarily on the Munich company since October, and it was in the intervening time that Hilaire's visits to the company brought discussions of his appointment to a head. A frequent partner of Sylvie Guillem, Hilaire was a star of the Paris Opéra during the Rudolf Nureyev years.
Choosing a French ballet star to head a Russian company might seem like a strange choice, especially given that Hilaire has spent the vast majority of his career working at the Paris Opéra Ballet in some capacity: He was promoted from soloist to étoile by Rudolf Nureyev in 1985 (entirely bypassing the premier danseur rank), served as a ballet master beginning in 2005, retired from the stage in 2007 and became associate artistic director in 2011 under Brigitte Lefèvre, a position he held until the arrival of Benjamin Millepied. However, his career trajectory seems to have been designed to prepare him for such a leadership position—he was one of the more likely candidates to replace Lefèvre at Paris Opéra back in 2014 and was among those considered to replace Makhar Vaziev at La Scala earlier this year.
In a statement he acknowledged that he was aware of the potential disparity between his French roots and the company's Russian identity, but expressed a great admiration for the enthusiasm and potential of the Stanislavsky dancers. Though he did not comment on programming plans, he did mention a desire to respect the company's traditions without forgetting to look ahead—after all, this is the man who helped redefine what ballet could be when he originated a role, opposite Guillem, in Forsythe's iconic In the middle, somewhat elevated.
Shuffling and re-shuffling the leadership of ballet companies across the pond has become something of a theme for 2016. Benjamin Millepied departed Paris Opéra Ballet after less than two years and was replaced by Aurélie Dupont. Makhar Vaziev left La Scala for the Bolshoi in March; Mauro Bigonzetti took over from him in Milan only to depart just eight months into his tenure. Sasha Waltz and Johannes Öhman were announced as the incumbent directors at Staatsballett Berlin, beginning their new posts in 2019 when current director Nacho Duato's contract expires; the dancers quickly launched a protest of the decision. And the U.S. ballet scene hasn't been without its own changes.
Are we in for more seismic shifts across the ballet world? Only time will tell. For now, we're wishing Hilaire all the best as he prepares to take on his new position.
Booking a gig on a cruise ship can feel like you're diving into the unknown—dropping everything to live in the middle of the ocean without family, friends or cell service. But cruise jobs can also offer incredible rewards, like traveling the world for free and delving into a new style.
Is ship life the right fit for you? Here are some elements to consider.
We knew that New York downtown dance darling Okwui Okpokwasili was a big deal. Critics and audiences have been raving about her dance-theater works for years, and the new documentary about her, Bronx Gothic, has attracted the attention of the larger arts community.
But never in our wildest dreams did we imagine she'd show up in a Jay Z video, along with flex dancer Storyboard P. Though we're slightly less surprised to see Storyboard in Jay Z's "4:44" video than we were to see Okpokwasili, we're jazzed that two of our favorites are featured on such a huge platform. (We're also feeling #blessed that we didn't have to subscribe to Tidal to watch this.)
Throughout the years, choreographer Seán Curran has worked with a diverse array of talented collaborators—from Kyrgyz music ensemble Ustatshakirt Plus to the the Grammy Award–winning King's Singers. But perhaps none are as meaningful as his most recent group of co-choreographers: At-risk teens from the after school program and nonprofit The Wooden Floor.
Curran has been in residence with The Wooden Floor since June, where he's worked with students to build choreography based on their lives and communities:
Their creation will be shown July 20-22 at The Wooden Floor Studio Theatre in Santa Ana, California.
"Besides the stage, baking is my other happy place," says New York City Ballet corps member Jenelle Manzi.
Four years ago, she thought her baking days were over when she was diagnosed with gluten intolerance. Manzi had been dealing with pain, frequent illness and joint inflammation for nearly 10 years. Once she cut out gluten, Manzi gradually started to feel better, noticing a transformation in how her body felt and functioned. She found her joints were less inflamed, and she got sick less often.
New York City Ballet soloist Unity Phelan and American Ballet Theatre soloist Cassandra Trenary spend every day making their hard work look effortless and graceful both in the studio and onstage. That's exactly what makes them the perfect spokesmodels for the dance-inspired activewear line, Belle Force.
To celebrate our 90th anniversary, we excavated some of our favorite hidden gems from the DM Archives—images that capture a few of the moments in time we've documented over the decades.
This image was captured during a 1978 New York City Ballet tour that took the company to Copenhagen—home turf for Adam Luders (right), who trained at the Royal Danish Ballet School and briefly danced with the company before joining NYCB as a principal dancer in 1975. Next to Luders is (of course) George Balanchine, in conversation with ballerina Suzanne Farrell. And looking on with a smile? NYCB's current ballet master in chief Peter Martins.
On March 8, 2016, Rami Shafi found himself inspired to film an impromptu dance video of his best friend, Aaron Moses Robin, improvising on Gay St. in New York City's Greenwich Village. Thus was born Pedestrian Wanderlust, a collection of dance videos that has grown to include a monthly improv jam.
Shafi works with anyone who wants to take part in the project, filming videos in locations chosen by the dancers and later adding music. The videos are shot on Shafi's iPhone in one take and, other than the starting and ending points, are entirely improvised. The editing afterwards—including the music choice—is minimal. "I don't like to edit too much. It's just what it is," says Shafi. "I usually can do the editing on the train ride home."