Down for the Count
NBoC bounces back from last season, when 16 dancers were out due to injury.
Company class at National Ballet of Canada. Photo by Aleksander Antonijevic, courtesy NBoC.
When National Ballet of Canada’s Jenna Savella made her entrance in Alexei Ratmansky’s Piano Concerto #1 in Toronto last May, she created the kind of drama you least want to experience at the ballet. While sliding onstage, her shoe got caught on the floor, spraining a ligament in her foot that forced the recently promoted dancer to wear a walking cast for four weeks.
But she was not NBoC’s only sidelined dancer. An unprecedented 16 company members, almost a quarter of the ballet’s 67 dancers, were out last season due to injuries. The wounded ran the gamut, from principals and soloists to young members of the corps de ballet. The injuries themselves were similarly across the board: Guillaume Côté hurt his knee dancing The Nutcracker; recently anointed principal dancer Elena Lobsanova succumbed to a foot injury; and Evan McKie suffered from a herniated disk. “It’s a blow when a company has to deal with lots of simultaneous injuries,” says McKie, who had to forfeit key roles. “But it brings a company closer together because dancers have to teach each other steps and assume responsibility for the production.”
That cohesiveness was apparent when the National Ballet presented its lavish production of Rudolf Nureyev’s The Sleeping Beauty in June. Faced with a shortage of dancers, artistic director Karen Kain made the bold decision to bring forward several from the lower ranks to dance the ballet’s lead roles for the first time. Stars were born of necessity, like Harrison James, who leapfrogged to the position of first soloist from the corps after taking on the role of Prince Florimund.
But the National Ballet isn’t taking this happier-than-usual ending for granted. Plans are under way to expand the company’s Dancer Health and Wellness Programme. Je-an Salas Leavens, a former company dancer turned Pilates instructor and a member of the health team, has been working closely with the company to enhance its current system with increased monitoring of injured dancers. “The dancers will undergo a detailed evaluation based on me observing them closely in class and in rehearsal,” says Salas Leavens. “The long-term goal is to ensure the dancers’ health following an injury and before they resume full-time dancing.”
“We have one of the most highly regarded dancer wellness programs in the world,” says Kain. “We’re just going up one level.”
What do Percy Jackson, Princess Diana and Tina Turner have in common? They're all characters on Broadway this season. Throw in Michelle Dorrance's choreographic debut, Henry VIII's six diva-licious wives and the 1990s angst of Alanis Morissette, and the 2019–20 season is shaping up to be an exciting mix of past-meets-pop-culture-present.
Here's a look at the musicals hitting Broadway in the coming months. We're biding our time until opening night!
If you think becoming a trainee or apprentice is the only path to gaining experience in a dance company environment, think again.
The University of Arizona, located in the heart of Tucson, acclimates dancers to the pace and rigor of company life while offering all the academic opportunities of a globally-ranked university. If you're looking to get a head-start on your professional dance career—or to just have a college experience that balances company-level training and repertory with rigorous academics—the University of Arizona's undergraduate and graduate programs have myriad opportunites to offer:
Yes, we realize it's only August. But we can't help but to already be musing about all the incredible dance happenings of 2019.
We're getting ready for our annual Readers' Choice feature, and we want to hear from you about the shows you can't stop thinking about, the dance videos that blew your mind and the artists you discovered this year who everyone should know about.
Ah, stretching. It seems so simple, and is yet so complicated.
For example: You don't want to overstretch, but you're not going to see results if you don't stretch enough. You want to focus on areas where you're tight, but you also can't neglect other areas or else you'll be imbalanced. You were taught to hold static stretches growing up, but now everyone is telling you never to hold a stretch longer than a few seconds?
Considering how important stretching correctly is for dancers, it's easy to get confused or overwhelmed. So we came up with 10 common stretching scenarios, and gave you the expert low-down.