Dancers & Companies

Watch Now: Gorgeous Video for SF Ballet's Peck Premiere

Even dance lovers who live far from their favorite companies can get a taste of new ballets these days: Young choreographers like Justin Peck are creating not just premieres, but short films to go along with them, like creative versions of a trailer.

The latest one is for Peck's new piece at San Francisco Ballet, In the Countenance of Kings. The film, by Ezra Hurwitz (who previously collaborated with Peck on a Heatscape trailer for Miami City Ballet), was shot in an abandoned train station in Oakland, just across the bay from San Francisco.

The film's music, by Sufjan Stevens, and movement, by Peck, are pulled directly from the ballet. It's the first time SFB has ever produced this kind of content. Hurwitz says the company administration was only convinced to shoot it in the middle of a busy performance season because the project was spearheaded by principals Frances Chung and Dores André.

"Like most of Justin’s work, In the Countenance of Kings creates an alternate world—one that’s sentimental, youthful, surreal and yet very human," says Hurwitz. "I wanted to capture that sort of transcendent experience in a short, semi-narrative film." That "semi-narrative" is a dancer's (Dores André's) post-rehearsal daydream that's inspired by the work she's just rehearsed.

The result is a thrilling creation in itself. Personally, I'm loving this trend, and the fact that it's mostly young artists who are behind it. I wouldn't be surprised if it gets more young audiences in the house as well.

SFB premieres In The Countenance of Kings April 7–17.

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ABT's James Whiteside and Isabella Boylston. Photo via Instagram

Last night, American Ballet Theatre held its annual Fall Gala at the David H. Koch Theater in New York City. To celebrate ABT's artistic director Kevin McKenzie's 25 years of leadership, dancers from ABT's company, apprentices, studio company members and students from the Jaqueline Kennedy Onassis School took to the stage in Jessica Lang's The Gift, Alexei Ratmansky's Songs of Bukovina and Christopher Wheeldon's Thirteen Diversions.

But we also love a good behind-the-scenes glimpse—especially when designer gowns are involved. And the dancers gave us plenty of glam looks to obsess over once the curtains closed. Ahead, see our favorite moments from gala straight from the dancers.

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Photo by Morgan Lugo

This week American Ballet Theatre launches its fall season at Lincoln Center with an exciting lineup of performances. One last-minute addition to the program is a new work from Benjamin Millepied, which will be performed by ABT Studio Company and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School dancers in the theater's promenade during select intermissions. Although the specifics of the performance are hush hush, we stepped into the studio with Millepied for an inside look.

What has it been like to choreograph on younger dancers and how, if at all, did you change your approach?

To be honest, they're really good. Rhythmically, it's not easy at all and they've done incredibly well. The piece could be longer. It's really one movement but, for the first time, to use that space it felt right. Nothing says I couldn't add two more movements next season to make it longer.

What are your thoughts on bringing classical ballet outside the proscenium setting?

For me, it's great to think of spaces theatrically. We build sets with lighting and props, but there are also all these environments that are beautiful and theatrical, and with a little bit of work you can create something within them and that becomes site-specific. That's really fun because you create something really specific for the environment.

What would you like to see more of from young ballet dancers?

What I would want to see more of in ballet is just more interesting collaborations. These ballet dancers are great and they're ready and what they need is more interesting work. I feel people are playing it safe a lot. If anything, I think it's the choreographers and the directors who need to make an effort for these dancers who have made this art form their passion, and to really be as daring or at least as relevant as some of our peers were when they were commissioning pieces a long time ago.

Dancers & Companies
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