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Editors' Picks: Five Must-See Performances This August

Janis Claxton's POP-UP Duets (fragments of love) will appear at Lincoln Center Out of Doors this month. Photo by Roy Campbell-Moore, Courtesy The Corner Shop PR

Summer's end is in sight, and while it might seem like everyone is on layoff (or at Jacob's Pillow or Vail), there's still plenty of dance to see before the fall season starts in earnest. Here are our top five performance picks for August.


Natalia Osipova Bewitches as Isadora Duncan

Natalia Osipova as Isadora Duncan. Photo by Sergei Misenko, Courtesy Segerstrom Center for the Arts

COSTA MESA, CA Isadora Duncan was famously derisive toward ballet, but ballet has long been fascinated by her—both Frederick Ashton and Kenneth MacMillan created works for The Royal Ballet inspired by Duncan. International ballet star Natalia Osipova is the latest to be bewitched by the modern dance revolutionary. She's starring in a new ballet titled ISADORA, with choreography by the Mariinsky's Vladimir Varnava to music from Prokofiev's Cinderella. Premieres at Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Aug. 10–12. scfta.org. —Courtney Escoyne

A Rom-Com Romp Hits Broadway

Samantha Barks and Steve Kazee in the pre-Broadway run of Pretty Woman: The Musical. Photo by Matthew Murphy, Courtesy Polk & Company

NEW YORK CITY August isn't the biggest time for Broadway openings, but Pretty Woman: The Musical, based on the beloved 1990 movie, arrives in New York City this month after a Chicago run. Directed and choreographed by Jerry Mitchell (Kinky Boots), it has music and lyrics by Canadian pop star Bryan Adams and his songwriting partner Jim Vallance. Andy Karl, the trouper who was last seen on Broadway in a knee brace while starring in Groundhog Day, plays the Richard Gere role. Samantha Barks (Les Misérables) has the finesse, the poise and the voice to play Vivian, but can she break out laughing as infectiously as Julia Roberts? Opens Aug. 16. prettywomanthemusical.com. —Wendy Perron

Another Day of Sun at Lincoln Center

Janis Claxton's POP-UP Duets (fragments of love) emerges in public spaces. Photo by Lucas Kao, Courtesy Lincoln Center

NEW YORK CITY Free performances at an iconic New York City campus under the summer sun—is there anything more delightful? Lincoln Center Out of Doors continues its three-week extra-vaganza this month. Dance Theatre of Harlem brings a mix of the old and new to its Aug. 4 performance: resident choreographer Robert Garland's New Bach (1999), which sprinkles balletic formations with boogying; Christopher Wheeldon's dreamlike, sinewy duet, This Bitter Earth (2012); Dancing on the Front Porch of Heaven (1993), Ulysses Dove's dramatic requiem to the celestial music of Arvo Pärt; and the jazzy Harlem on My Mind (2018), by Darrell Grand Moultrie. The opening by honey-voiced pop singer ALA.NI, all the rage in Europe, will be a treat. Also try wandering by the Josie Robertson Plaza Aug. 1–5. You just might catch Janis Claxton's POP-UP Duets (fragments of love) (2016), a series of hypnotic, playful dances for two—each clocking in at five minutes—that expose relationships with exquisite sensitivity. lincolncenter.org/out-of-doors. —CE and WP

Familiar Faces Descend on Edinburgh International Festival

Akram Khan's Kadamati. Photo by Kois Miah, Courtesy Edinburgh International Festival

EDINBURGH Strange and spectacular are consistently accurate adjectives for the offerings at Edinburgh International Festival. But this year's dance programs are full of familiar faces: Akram Khan brings his latest (and last) solo Xenos and a companion community-dance piece, Kadamati; Company Wayne McGregor performs his Autobiography; and L-E-V will dance Sharon Eyal and Gai Behar's Love Cycle, comprising OCD Love and the more recent Love Chapter 2. But just as intriguing, if less familiar, is Michèle Anne De May's Cold Blood, a narrative-driven, cinema-dance show featuring choreography just for hands. Aug. 3–27. eif.co.uk. —CE

Royal New Zealand Ballet Celebrates Women's Suffrage

Royal New Zealand Ballet dancers in rehearsal. Photo by Stephen A'Court, Courtesy RNZB

WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND Patricia Barker has commissioned four female choreographers to create premieres for a program celebrating the 65th and 125th anniversaries of Royal New Zealand Ballet and women's suffrage in New Zealand, respectively. Strength and Grace features new works by Penny Saunders (choreographer in residence at Barker's former artistic home, Grand Rapids Ballet), Danielle Rowe, Sarah Foster-Sproull and Andrea Schermoly. Aug. 17–18. rnzb.org.nz. —CE

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Dance Training
Jealousy is normal—it becomes a problem when it affects your dancing. Thinkstock

A classmate lands the role you wanted. Another dancer is always earning compliments from the teacher you can never seem to please. The dance world is full of opportunities to feel envious—and according to psychologist Nadine Kaslow, that is completely normal.

"To say you shouldn't ever feel jealous is unrealistic," says Kaslow, who works with dancers at Atlanta Ballet. "But when you become driven by it, rather than focusing on doing your best to improve, that's when it turns harmful." Luckily, there are ways to channel this negative emotion into positive growth.

1. Feel It

Don't be ashamed when envy strikes. Instead, acknowledge and process how you're feeling. Photo by Matthew Murphy for Pointe.

"In dance, it can seem like the grass is always greener," says Erin Fogarty, a teacher and director of programming at Manhattan Youth Ballet. "If you're a jumper, you wish you could turn. If you're long and leggy, you wish you could jump. People progress at different paces."

There's no reason to be ashamed when envy strikes. In fact, it's better to acknowledge your feelings than to ignore them. "Bottled-up emotions can be dangerous," Fogarty says. Unresolved jealousy can consume you, affecting how you view yourself and interact with your peers. You might experience physical side effects, such as excess muscle tension. Your artistry can even suffer when you're closed-off emotionally.

You can't move forward until you honestly assess and accept your state of mind. "Sometimes I encourage people to write down how they're feeling," Kaslow says. "They might discover something else at the root of the jealousy: They're hurt, angry, betrayed or humiliated. Those feelings need to be dealt with as well."

But remember: Pausing to validate your emotions isn't the same as wallowing in them. "It's fine to take a day to be mad, especially if you don't feel like you can be in the studio without coming undone," Fogarty says. "Then you have to get back to work."

2. Talk About It

Opening up to someone about how you're feeling can help you move forward. Photo by Kevin Laminto via Unsplash

After you've admitted your feelings to yourself, consider talking to a parent, teacher or close friend. Look for someone who will listen and perhaps share their own experiences, without encouraging the negative impulses that can accompany envy. "The wrong person could feed your jealousy instead of helping you understand it," says Elizabeth Petrin, who teaches at Bobbie's School of Performing Arts in Newbury Park, California. "You want someone who can build you up and offer advice."

What if the friend you usually turn to is the person you're jealous of? Taking the time to recognize your friend's excitement can start to pull you out of your rut. But, Kaslow warns, "smiling and pretending everything's fine when it's not often comes across as phony" and can damage your relationship. "Being honest and vulnerable—'I am happy for you, but I'm also really disappointed right now'—can heal your wounds."

If your dance environment has started to feel toxic, ask a teacher to facilitate a class or company discussion. "If people are constantly being negative about their own achievements or making friends feel bad for succeeding, it creates distance," Petrin says. "When you're no longer holding each other back, everyone can improve."

3. Use It

Use your jealousy as motivation. Photo by Hector Gamboa, Courtesy Petrin

Acting on jealousy can be a problem—if your response is to say nasty things about your peers or to engage in sabotaging behavior. But there are also ways to use envy for good. The key is to focus on yourself, instead of on those around you. "If someone is doing something well, and I think about how I might adopt some of that, that's motivating," Kaslow says. "If I'm so focused on them that I lose sight of myself, that's counterproductive."

To come up with a game plan, get specific. "Is what you're jealous about something you can fix?" asks Petrin's choreography partner and fellow teacher Mandy Korpinen. You may not be able to change how you're built—or what a choreographer is looking for—but you can improve your strength, flexibility, stamina and work ethic.

Of course, there's a delicate balance between homing in on your growth and beating yourself up. If you have a tendency toward self-criticism, find ways to boost your spirits. "One of my teachers growing up made me write three things I was good at on the mirror in my room," says Korpinen, "so every morning I was reminded of my strengths."

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