Here is my list of favorites from this year, some of them with video clips embedded. I've also added "lingering thoughts" about certain situations in the dance world. As usual, my choices are limited by what I have actually seen. Most of the following are world premieres.
• Andrea Miller's Stone Skipping in the Egyptian room at the Temple of Dendur at the Metropolitan Museum of Art: Ancient and ultra-modern at once, gaga-initiated grapplings, telling many stories of people in struggle and solidarity. The group sequence (with her company Gallim plus dancers from Juilliard) from lying on the floor with pelvis bobbing to standing, to swaying, to skipping wildly about was transcendent.
You know you've got something going for you when stars from New York City Ballet and American Ballet Theatre—plus our favorite celebrity dance fan, Jennifer Garner—are all fangirling about you on Instagram.
The man of the hour is Nick Palmquist, a choreographer and teacher who can often be found dishing out irresistibly sultry commercial jazz combos at New York City's Steps on Broadway. (You may have also heard of his boyfriend, ABT star Marcelo Gomes.)
When it comes to ballerinas at American Ballet Theatre, Ratmansky has naturally given juicy roles to his fellow Russians. But he has also given first cast to two scintillating women who just performed the leads in his latest ballet for ABT, Souvenir d'un lieu cher. Although he choreographed it for Dutch National Ballet in 2012, this mysterious little quartet to haunting music by Tchaikovsky found a new life at the Met last week.
Sarah Lane and Alban Lendorf in Souvenir, PC Gene Schiavone
Both Stella Abrera and Sarah Lane (who just got promoted to principal) are exquisite classical stylists with a particular poignancy
around the head/neck/shoulder area. But they also have very different personalities—and Ratmansky uses their differences in Souvenir.
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.
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.
In her first season as a principal at American Ballet Theatre, Stella Abrera experienced a kind of exhaustion she'd never known before. “For 14 years, I got used to gearing up to do one pas de deux or one solo, and I would usually feel fresh beforehand," says 38-year-old Abrera, who was promoted in 2015. “It was new to be so fatigued before I had to go on for the second or third act."
Instead of fighting fatigue, Abrera, here in Le Corsaire, uses it to relax her nerves. PC Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy ABT.
She quickly learned not to freak out or fight the feeling. Instead, Abrera began to use each intermission to calmly recharge with an electrolyte-rich drink and a few bites to eat—some banana, some nut bar and a few gummy bears.
Rather than obsess over fatigue, she reframes it as a way to help her relax her nerves, trusting that adrenaline will kick in when she needs it. “Adrenaline is maybe my favorite drug," she jokes. “I don't feel any pain, just a burst of energy. It's kind of unreal. It's something I never feel until I'm onstage."
The downside of adrenaline, however, is how long it takes for the buzz to wear off. “After every big show I had this season, I didn't nod off until 4 am, and then I would wake with a jolt two hours later."
Knowing how high the risk of injury can be when she's had so little sleep, Abrera takes extra care to listen to her body: Any rehearsals the next day are just for muscle memory; none are danced full-out. She looks forward to her day off to recuperate with a massage, homemade pancakes and, ideally, nine hours of sleep.