Two American Directors Are Moving to Major International Companies

By the end of the summer, two major international ballet companies will have new artistic directors. And they'll both be American.

Today, The Royal New Zealand Ballet announced that current Grand Rapids Ballet artistic director Patricia Barker will take over the company later this month. The former Pacific Northwest Ballet star will succeed Francesco Ventriglia, who announced his resignation in November. We've yet to hear who will be taking over for Barker at Grand Rapids, but for the 2017-2018 season, Barker will be doing double artistic director duty from across the world.


Former Washington Ballet director Septime Webre will also have a lot of his plate this year: In July, he will become artistic director of Hong Kong Ballet, while continuing to set his choreography on companies around the world and serve as artistic director of Halcyon, the DC-based arts incubator and performance series. He will take over from Madeleine Onne, who has led the company since 2009, and is moving on to serve as academy director of Houston Ballet Academy.

Congratulations to two visionary directors on their new positions!

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Studio Bleu students Jaxon Keller, Samantha Halker and Alia Wiggins. Photos by Chris Stark

How Turning Boards and Practice Mats Can Revolutionize Your Dance Training

When it comes to equipment, dancers don't need much—just shoes and whatever can fit in their dance bag. But between rehearsals in the studio and performances on stage, one major piece of equipment often goes overlooked—the floor.

Dancers too often find themselves warming up on the concrete or carpet backstage, or wanting to practice in a location without a proper floor. For years, Harlequin Floors has offered a solution to this problem with its innovative turning board, offering a portable and personal floor that can be flipped between marley and wood. Now, they've revolutionized portability again with their practice mat, offering dancers the option to roll up their own personal floor and sling it over their shoulders like a yoga mat.

We spoke with experts from every corner of the dance industry to see how Harlequin's products have become their everyday essentials:

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