Spotlight: What Keeps Amar Ramasar From Slacking In the Studio
Sure, lots of ballet dancers are doing stints in Broadway shows these days. But most of them aren't tackling roles like Jigger Craigin, Carousel's villainous whaler, who yes, dances, but is by no means a role traditionally played by a dancer, and who demands a careful blend of charm and danger, drunkenness and cunning. Yet this is the role that New York City Ballet star Amar Ramasar has taken on—and triumphantly, too. The New York Times called his Broadway debut "electric."
We caught up with him for our "Spotlight" series:
What do you think is the most common misconception about dancers?
That we don't eat very much. Quite the contrary, we eat a lot!
What other career would you like to try?
Directing or ballet-mastering for a major ballet company. But I have to say, after Carousel, I could see some potential acting in my future.
What was the last dance performance you saw?
The All Balanchine program on the final day of the NYCB winter season. It was phenomenal!
What's the most-played song on your phone?
"To Build A Home" by The Cinematic Orchestra
Do you have a pre-performance ritual?
l always do a ballet barre (to blasted music) and nowadays, a vocal warm-up and reciting of lines.
What's your favorite book?
Without a doubt, To Kill A Mockingbird
Where can you be found two hours after a performance ends?
Just heading to bed. With all the adrenaline from performing, it takes that long for me to calm down.
Who is the person you most want to dance with—living or dead?
Living, definitely Misty Copeland! We've discussed it before but haven't had the chance yet. Dead, the beautiful Balanchine ballerina Violette Verdy.
Where did you last vacation?
St. Martin with my lovely lady, Alexa Maxwell. It was the best trip ever!
What app do you spend the most time on?
I would have to say the Global Poker app. Also, I do check out Instagram pretty often.
What's the first item on your bucket list?
To visit India and see the city where my ancestors came from.
What's your go-to cross-training routine?
A regimen of exercises my friend and fellow principal dancer Joaquin De Luz created for the Dancer Fitness program at NYCB. It's full of deep core strengthening and you can do it anywhere.
What's the worst advice you've ever received?
To take it easy in ballet class. No matter how hard of a season, it's important to keep your technique up and when you slack, you lose.
If you could relive one performance, what would it be?
I am beyond humbled to admit that I've had countless performances that I would love to relive! One that comes to mind is dancing the "Man I Love" pas de deux from Balanchine's Who Cares with ballerina Sterling Hyltin and Queen Latifah singing live onstage at a NYCB gala. It was a surreal experience.
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.