Watch Alessandra Ferri Share the Stage with...Alessandra Ferri
Alessandra Ferri's career has long been marked by extraordinary onstage partnerships—Mikhail Baryshnikov, Julio Bocca and Herman Cornejo immediately leap to mind. But in a video released last month, Ferri managed to share the stage with none other than her 19-year-old self. In an advertisement for UK-based pharmacy chain Boots, Ferri, now 52, dances opposite a holographic projection of her teenage self performing the first act variation from Sir Kenneth MacMillan's Romeo and Juliet.
The video caught the Internet's attention this weekend, exactly one month away from Ferri's one-night-only reprisal of the role of Juliet with American Ballet Theatre.
It's not difficult to see what has everyone spellbound. Ferri, in practice clothes and pointe shoes, matches the costumed projection for a breathtaking moment before splitting away, joyfully whirling through chaînés. The preternaturally arched feet, lithe lines and irresistible stage presence that Ferri is known for—and that saw her become a principal dancer at The Royal Ballet at the young age of 19—are all on display here. Ferri's hard-won maturity glitters opposite her more cautious alter-ego. At one moment both Alessandras seem to acknowledge each other, the younger wide-eyed and curious, the older warm and wry, before the projection is blurred away leaving only the older, mature Ferri standing triumphantly at center stage.
The message seems fairly clear: older does not necessarily mean better or worse, only different. It's a bold statement to make in the context of ballet, where youth and technical virtuosity are traditionally prized. Ferri has already called these views into question in the past few years, returning from retirement to dance opposite Herman Cornejo in Martha Clarke's Cheri, to star in Wayne McGregor's Woolf Works at The Royal Ballet, and most recently to perform in John Neumier's Duse. As the video demonstrates, Ferri's maturity and life experience have only enhanced her already-legendary performance quality. She is looking as wonderful as ever, and I personally cannot wait to see her grace the stage as Juliet once more.
Jennifer Kahn knew the theater industry could do better. As a professional stage manager for 17 years she worked on regional, off-Broadway and Broadway shows. Nearly each time a show closed, something unsettling happened: "I would watch them throw away our shows. All of the beautiful artwork by my friends in the paint shop would go in the trash." The elaborate backdrops? Gone.
But she had an idea: What if the material used in the backdrops and legs could be upcycled into something new? And what if theater lovers could literally keep a piece of a beloved show?
"The show must go on" may be a platitude we use to get through everything from costume malfunctions to stormy moods. But when it came to overcoming a literal hurricane, Houston Ballet was buoyed by this mantra to go from devastated to dancing in a matter of weeks—with the help of Harlequin Floors, Houston Ballet's longstanding partner who sprang into action to build new floors in record time.
For decades the name Alicia Alonso has been virtually synonymous with Ballet Nacional de Cuba, the company she co-founded in Havana in 1948. Alonso died on October 17, just shy of what would have been her 99th birthday. In recent years, she had stepped back from day-to-day decision-making in the company. As if preparing for the future, in January, the company's leading ballerina, 42-year-old Viengsay Valdés, was named deputy director, a job that seems to encompass most of the responsibilities of a traditional director. Now, presumably, she will step into her new role as director of the company. Her debut as curator of the repertory comes in November, when the troupe will perform three mixed bills selected by her at the Gran Teatro de la Habana Alicia Alonso. The following has been translated from a conversation conducted in Spanish, Valdés' native tongue.
New York City Ballet principal Sara Mearns wasn't sure she was strong enough. A ballerina who has danced many demanding full-length and contemporary roles, she was about to push herself physically more than she thought was possible.
"I said, 'I can't. My body won't,' " she says. "He told me, 'Yes, it will.' "
She wasn't working with a ballet coach, but with personal trainer Joel Prouty, who was asking her to do squats with a heavier barbell than she'd ever used.