Curtain Up

July 31, 2012

I had just come back from Russia when I saw American Ballet Theatre’s new production of
. While Cranko’s heart-wrenching ballet is performed often in Europe and Canada, this was the first time in years that New Yorkers got to see it. Santo Loquasto’s sumptuous sets of birch trees and chandeliers (courtesy National Ballet of Canada) transported me back to St. Petersburg. In this ballet, based on a story by Russia’s romantic poet, Alexander Pushkin, an array of ballet stars get to twist into astounding lifts and lament their fates with high drama.

I think Pushkin’s story of passion gone wrong is powerful enough to join Swan Lake, Giselle, and Romeo and Juliet as an evergreen to return every spring at the Met. As Evan McKie writes in “Turning Into Tatiana,” the heroine, torn between her ever-burning love for one man and her fidelity to another, makes a mature—but devastating—decision. It’s a helluva role, and the two ABT dancers I saw (Hee Seo and Irina Dvorovenko) were superb. A noted Onegin himself, Evan speaks to five ballerinas of international acclaim about the challenges of this role.

Russia is never far from a ballet lover’s mind, and this month we look back on a historic trip that New York City Ballet took to Balanchine’s homeland in 1962. In “When Balanchine Went Home,” Nancy Reynolds talks to three great American dance artists who were on that tour, and two beloved Russians who witnessed it. Fifty years ago, at the height of the Cold War, American and Soviet ballet were alien to each other (though they had common roots). No one then could have foreseen the phenomenon of our May cover story—David Hallberg, being shared by both the Bolshoi and ABT.

Choosing to dance in either New York or Los Angeles means more than choosing a different coast or different weather. For Tyne Stecklein, moving to L.A. meant making the connections necessary to get constant work in concerts, tours, and film. Kenny Ortega, Mia Michaels, and Adam Shankman all know the value of her work—as did Michael Jackson. In “L.A.’s Golden Girl,” read about this charismatic dancer’s training and strategies. But here’s a tip from me: Don’t ever turn your cell phone off. When I called Tyne to tell her we wanted to do a photo shoot, she was on her honeymoon—but was totally ready to talk schedules. Her positive attitude, willingness to try anything, and ease with the camera made this shoot a dream.


Photo by Matthew Karas.