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Sascha Radetsky Spills About His New Holiday Movie
When ABT principal Stella Abrera posted a shot on Instagram of her husband, Sascha Radetsky, filming a ballet-themed holiday movie for The Hallmark Channel a couple of months ago, we got pretty excited. It's called A Nutcracker Christmas, and the plot goes something like this: Ballerina receives tragic news during Nutcracker season, leaves dance (and her onstage/offstage partner) behind and, years later, reconnects with her old life (and love) when her niece is cast in a local production of The Nutcracker. It sounds like just the sort of thing I want to watch while curled up on my couch with fuzzy socks and a mug of hot chocolate: Cheesy-but-adorable plot? Check. Bona-fide dancers (such as rising star Sophia Lucia) in snippets of The Nutcracker? Check. And of course, we get Radetsky, everyone's favorite former ABT soloist and Center Stage star (and Dance Magazine contributor), back on the silver screen. We caught up with him via email to find out about his role in the movie, his thoughts on acting and what else he's up to these days.
Tell us about your character in the movie, Mark.
For several years, Mark Anders was the leading male dancer at “The New York Ballet." When a tragic accident leads to Lily [Amy Acker], his girlfriend, leaving him and New York behind, Mark enlists in the Marines and deploys to Afghanistan. Once back Stateside, he circles around to ballet again, assuming artistic directorship of “The Philadelphia Ballet." When Lily arrives in Philly with her niece, Sadie [Sophia Lucia], whom he has hired to dance Clara, Mark sets about trying to win her back—with gentle persistence, kindness and plenty of goofy humor.
Sascha Radetsky in "A Nutcracker Christmas"
Have you seen the finished film yet? How much of The Nutcracker is in there?
I haven't seen it, so I'm not sure how much dancing will make the ultimate cut. But I remember we shot bits of the party scene, snow, Act II divertissement and the grand pas. Sophia and the other dancers, most of whom hailed from the National Ballet of Canada, did some great work.
Do we get to see you dance?
Yes, in one short scene. But I've been retired and out of class for over two years, so I think the correct question isn't whether you get to see me dance, but whether you have to endure seeing me dance!
What was your favorite scene to shoot?
Strangely, it might have been the heaviest, most emotionally charged scene of the film, when Amy Acker's character, Lily, receives tragic news. Amy went to a very dark place for that scene—and stayed there for hours. Though we were stuck together in a cramped dressing room, I tried not to speak to her in between takes and camera setups, treating her like I would a pitcher throwing a no-hitter. I learned a great deal from her, during that scene and over the course of the entire shoot.
What drew you to this project?
It seemed a good opportunity to work on acting, the people involved were all great folks and the story was charming.
Amy Acker and Sascha Radetsky in "A Nutcracker Christmas"
How has your interest in acting developed since your early film days with Center Stage? What keeps you circling back?
I guess my relationship with acting has been sort of complicated. It can be great fun (especially when dancing isn't involved, as the pace and hours of shooting aren't very compatible with dance), but it's a distinct art form, of course, one that requires talent, study and coaching. I always enjoy the challenge of acting, and it's something I'd certainly like to do more of, but it's a tough gig to chase if you can't be 100% committed.
You're also heading NYU's Ballet Pedagogy program—how is that role treating you? How do you balance it with other creative endeavors?
Running the ABT/NYU Master's in Ballet Pedagogy Program has been rewarding thus far. My students are intelligent and hungry to learn, and I feel the information and experiences we're giving them are valuable and unique to ABT. I'm grateful that my predecessor, the inimitably wise Raymond Lukens, has agreed to keep a presence in the program; also that several of my old coaches and colleagues have given talks and master classes. I've also been acting as ballet master with the ABT Studio Company. I'd say I'm able to balance my responsibilities by getting out of Dodge and into the mountains every now and then to hike, fly-fish and regroup.
Do you have any fun dance-related (or not dance-related) holiday traditions?
Well, being involved in The Nutcracker is the inevitable tradition, so we're rarely in the same place every year over the holidays—Nut guestings would scatter us far and wide. Now that I'm not onstage anymore, I try to visit family, hit the mountains or hang out with Stell as she Sugar Plums her heart out.
Tune in this Saturday, December 10 at 8/7c (that's tomorrow night, folks!) to see Radetsky and his costars in action.
All images: Christos Kalohoridis, Copyright 2016 Crown Media United States LLC.
Sarah Haarmann stands out without trying to. There is a precision and lack of affectation in her dancing that is very Merce Cunningham. Her movement quality is sharp and clear; her stage presence utterly focused. It's no wonder she caught Mark Morris' eye. Even though she still considers herself "very much the new girl" at Mark Morris Dance Group (she became a full-time member in August 2017), in a recent performance of Layla and Majnun, Haarmann seemed completely in her element.
Company: Mark Morris Dance Group
Hometown: Macungie, Pennsylvania
Training: Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Performing Arts and Marymount Manhattan College
In 2012, freelance contemporary dancer Adrianne Chu made a major career change: She decided to try out for A Chorus Line. "Even though I didn't get the job, I felt like I was meant to do this," says Chu. So she started going to at least one musical theater audition every weekday, treating each as a learning experience. After several years of building up her resumé, Chu's practice paid off: She booked a starring role as Wendy in the first national tour of Finding Neverland.
Approaching auditions as learning opportunities, especially when you're trying to break into a different style or are new to the profession, can sharpen your skills while helping you avoid burnout. It also builds confidence for the auditions that matter most.
For many dancers, a "warmup" consists of sitting on the floor stretching their legs in various positions. But this strategy only reduces your muscles' ability to work properly—it negatively affects your strength, endurance, balance and speed for up to an hour.
Save your flexibility training for the end of the day. Instead, follow a warmup that will actually help prevent injury and improve your body's performance.
According to the International Association of Dance Medicine and Science, a smart warmup has four parts: "a gentle pulse-raising section, a joint mobilization section, a muscle lengthening section and a strength/balance building section."
It's easy to feel whiplashed thinking about everything Emma Portner has achieved in such a short amount of time. Last fall, the 23-year-old was the youngest woman ever to choreograph a West End production (it was based on Meat Loaf's greatest hits). This was, of course, after she already choreographed and starred in Justin Bieber's viral hit "Life is Worth Living," and before she charmed major media outlets when she secretly married actress Ellen Page. Now, she's L.A. Dance Project's first-ever artist in residence, and she's working on a commission for Toronto's Fall for Dance North Festival.
We caught up with her for our "Spotlight" series:
Last month, the International Association of Blacks in Dance's third annual ballet audition for women of color was expanded to include a separate audition for men.
The brainchild of Joan Myers Brown (founder of both Philadanco and IABD), the women's audition was created to specifically address the lack of black females in ballet. However, the success and attention that audition drew made the men feel left out, so IABD decided to give the men equal time this year.
Pina Bausch's unique form of German Tanztheater is known for raising questions. Amid water and soil, barstools and balloons, the late choreographer's work contains a distinct tinge of mystery and confrontation. Today, Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch's dancers use questions as fuel for creativity. The company's most recent project introduced a new group of performers to the stage: local high school ninth-graders from the Gesamtschule Barmen in Wuppertal, Germany, in an original work-in-progress performance called Veränderung (Change).
Before she became the 20th century's most revered ballet pedagogue, Agrippina Vaganova was a frustrated ballerina. "I was not progressing and that was a terrible thing to realize," she wrote in a rough draft of her memoirs.
She retired from the Imperial Ballet stage in 1916, and for the next 30-plus years, devoted herself to creating a "science of ballet." Her new, dynamic teaching method produced stars like Rudolf Nureyev, Alla Osipenko, and Galina Ulanova and later Natalia Makarova and Mikhail Baryshnikov. And her approach continues to influence how we think about ballet training to this day.
But is the ballet class due for an update? Demands and aesthetics have changed. So should the way dancers train change too?
I love being transgender. It's an important part of the story of why I choreograph. Although I loved dance from a very young age, I grew up never seeing a single person like me in dance. So how could I imagine a future for myself there?
The enormous barriers I had to overcome weren't internal: I didn't struggle with feelings of dysphoria, and I wasn't locked down by shame.
The dance community is heartbroken to learn that 14-year-olds Jaime Guttenberg and Cara Loughran were among the 17 people killed during the February 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL.
Guttenberg was a talented competition dancer at Dance Theatre in Coconut Creek, FL, according to a report from Sun Sentinel. Dance Theatre owner Michelle McGrath Gerlick shared the below message on her Facebook page, encouraging dancers across the country to wear orange ribbons this weekend in honor of Guttenberg, whose favorite color was orange.
A statement released yesterday by New York City Ballet and School of American Ballet reported that an independent investigation was unable to corroborate allegations of harassment and abuse against former ballet master in chief Peter Martins, according to The New York Times. This marks the end of a two-month inquiry jointly launched by the two organizations in December following an anonymous letter detailing instances of harassment and violence.
The statement also included new policies for both the company and school to create safer, more respectful environments for the dancers, including hiring an independent vendor to handle employee complaints anonymously. These changes are being made despite the independent investigation, handled by outside counsel Barbara Hoey, purportedly finding no evidence of abuse.