Courtesy of Instagram/Doug Gifford

The New York City premiere of Alexei Ratmansky's sugary sweet story ballet, Whipped Cream, made for one of the most exciting spring galas at American Ballet Theatre yet. While we're usually in awe of the gowns the dancers sport on the red carpet beforehand, this time around, it was all about Whipped Cream's colorful and over-the-top costumes by Mark Ryden—and, okay, a few major dress moments, too. Ahead, check out what went on behind-the-scenes.


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Prince and Misty Copeland

It feels like just yesterday that we were shocked with the news that pop icon Prince had passed away. Now it's been a year since his untimely death, and we miss his dance-able music and intoxicating stage presence more than ever.

Though Prince was known for his genre-bending music, he was also a huge supporter of the dance community—and a captivating dancer himself. So it feels right to remember him by a few of his contributions to the dance world:

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Ballet lovers everywhere are dreaming of DC this week: Ballet Across America is taking over the Kennedy Center with help from two of ballet's favorite stars, Misty Copeland and Justin Peck.

But no matter where you are, you can still catch a taste of the festival. In addition to all the live performances, the Kennedy Center also commissioned a pair of short films by filmmaker (and former Miami City Ballet dancer) Ezra Hurwitz. Both premiered during the opening night celebration on Monday.

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Abraham.In.Motion will make their Kennedy Center debut with Kyle Abraham's The Gettin'. Photo by Ian Douglas, Courtesy The Kennedy Center.

Ballet Across America returns to The Kennedy Center this week with a twist: programming curated by American Ballet Theatre principal Misty Copeland and New York City Ballet soloist/resident choreographer Justin Peck. It's a unique opportunity to get inside the heads of two of the most influential figures in American ballet today—so what companies and choreographers did the superstars choose to showcase?

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Francesa Hayward, courtesy Royal Ballet

Janet Collins, Raven Wilkinson, Debra Austin, Nora Kimball, Misty Copeland, Francesca Hayward. All of these successful black ballet dancers have something in common: they skew toward the fairer end of the sepia spectrum.

Onstage, the duskiness of their complexions can be all but washed out, bleached by the lights. From the audience, they could present as a white girl back from a beachside vacation, or be perceived as Latina.

This observation is in no way meant to challenge these women's "blackness," or their talent. It's to highlight a long-overlooked fact that, historically, artistic directors have shown a predilection towards black ballerinas with lighter skin tones.

Misty Copeland in Swan Lake. Photo by Gene Schiavone, courtesy ABT

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Photo via Under Armour

In 2012, Misty Copeland was already a star on the American Ballet Theatre stage. But a national ad campaign for Diet Dr. Pepper effec­tively introduced the dancer to a whole new audience. Gilda Squire, Copeland's manager who negotiated the deal with the brand's advertising company, says partnering with the soda was a carefully planned move.


"It wasn't a huge payout, but I saw it as a strategic opportunity," says Squire. In the years since, Copeland has become a household name, landing partnership after partnership with brands like Oikos yogurt, watchmaker Seiko USA and Under Armour.

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Misty Copeland and Eric Tamm in Ratmansky's Nutcracker. PC Rosalie O'Connor

Here at Dance Magazine, we have a hard time imagining Nutcracker without much dancing. But the more we learn about Disney's plans for its upcoming live-action movie titled The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, the more we fear how little dancing will be involved.

The good news: Misty Copeland will play the role of "lead ballerina."

The bad news: It sounds like there will be the only be one dance sequence in the film.

Now, Variety is reporting that Keira Knightley has signed on to star as the Sugar Plum Fairy. Morgan Freeman is in talks to play Drossylmeyer. And Mackenzie Foy (who played Matthew McConaughey's daughter in Interstellar) will be Clara.

That all makes us wonder, how does dance fit into this? Where will the "lead ballerina" come in? And what will the Sugar Plum Fairy do if not dance?

The plot is reportedly based on E.T.A. Hoffman's "The Nutcracker and The Mouse King," the same story that Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov used as source material for their 1892 ballet. However, the choreographers worked off Alexandre Dumas' adaptation, which was far less dark than the original.

It remains to be seen what direction script writer Ashleigh Powell will take this Disney version. And a release date hasn't yet been set. But I think it's safe to expect to see it in theaters during the 2017 or 2018 holiday season.

We'll keep you updated with more details—and hopefully more news of dancers hired!

 

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Genre-crossing singer and songwriter Prince, 57, died in his Minnesota home this morning. Though few details have been made public, several news sites report that he fell ill and canceled a concert earlier in the month, and his plane had to make an emergency landing after a concert a few days ago.

Much like his music, Prince's movement onstage was smooth yet wild; decisive yet impulsive. And though we'll always remember the spirit he brought to his performances, we'll also always thank him for bringing classical dance to the masses, like when he took a then unknown (beyond the ballet world, at least) Misty Copeland on tour with him.

Rest in peace, Prince, the man who could literally make it purple rain.

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