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On the Rise: Tyler Donatelli
When it comes to a ballet matching a dancer's special talents, choreographer Justin Peck's Year of the Rabbit fit Houston Ballet demi-soloist Tyler Donatelli to a T. Built for power, flash and precision, Donatelli crashed through Peck's driving rhythms with finesse and clarity in a lead role this past March. She's a speed demon, which worked well for Peck's breakneck pacing. "His movement came so naturally to me," says Donatelli. "I could just be myself."
Company: Houston Ballet
Hometown: Huntington Beach, California Training: Southland Ballet Academy, Houston Ballet II
Accolades: Youth America Grand Prix silver medal, first place in ballet at the Music Center's Spotlight Awards
Donatelli in Peck's Year of the Rabbit. Photo by Amitava Sarkar, Courtesy Houston Ballet.
Breakout moment: With no rehearsal and while still a member of HB II, Donatelli was asked to slip in with the corps swans in artistic director Stanton Welch's Swan Lake when a dancer became injured. Welch saw that she was a quick study. "I showed that I was reliable," says Donatelli. "That got me noticed."
Learning curve: Dancing the role of Clara last season in Welch's lavish new Nutcracker proved to be eye-opening. "Stanton told me that I could find a way to make my performance more personal," she says. "I started to figure out how much artistic freedom I had to play with in my dancing."
"She's a vital force within the company." —Stanton Welch
Biggest challenges: Broadening her range is high on Donatelli's list of artistic and technical goals. "I want to learn to be more delicate, and I am doing that now rehearsing 'Shades' for La Bayadère," she says. "I've often gotten the correction that the power in my legs doesn't need to add stress to my upper body. I don't always have to be putting out 110 percent."
Dream role: "I have my eye on Kitri in Don Quixote," she says. "There's such great energy in that ballet."
What Stanton Welch is saying: "I first noticed her dynamic quality and her clarity," Welch says of seeing Donatelli at the 2012 Spotlight Awards. "She moves with remarkable power—it's unlike anything I've ever seen. She's so musical and has the ability to play with phrasing, which is such a gift to any choreographer."
Coming up: Donatelli can't wait to sink her teeth into the psychological drama of Sir Kenneth MacMillan's historical ballet, Mayerling, next month. "I want to work on my acting skills. I find something new about myself in every ballet."
Alongside photos of her dancing, Donatelli's Instagram feed features updates about her yellow parakeet, Lemon.
Bales of hay, black umbrellas, bicycles—this Midsummer Night's Dream would be unrecognizable to the Bard. Alexander Ekman's full-length, inspired by Scandinavian solstice traditions and set to music by Mikael Karlsson, is a madcap celebration of the longest day of the year, when the veil between our world and that of the supernatural is said to be at its thinnest. The Joffrey Ballet's performances mark the seductively surreal work's North American premiere. April 25–May 6. joffrey.org.
"There's an ancient energy in Fana's movement, a deep and trusted knowing," says Jeff, director of the Chicago-based Deeply Rooted Dance Theater. "Because I witnessed the raw humanity of his dancer's souls, I wanted my dancers to have that experience."
When I wrote about my struggle with depression, and eventual departure from dance because of it, I expected criticism. I was prepared to be challenged. But much to my relief, and horror, dancers from all over the world responded with support and stories of solidarity. The most critical response I saw was this one:
"Dance isn't for everyone."
This may as well be a mantra in the dance world. We have become entrenched in the Darwinian notion that the emotionally weak will be weeded out. There is no room for them anyway.
In his final bow at New York City Ballet, during what should have been a heroic conclusion to a celebrated ballet career, Robert Fairchild slipped and fell. His reaction? To lie down flat on his back like he meant to do it. Then start cracking up at himself.
"He's such a ham," says his sister Megan Fairchild, with a laugh. "He's really good at selling whatever his body is doing that day. He'll turn a moment that I would totally go home and cry about into something where the audience is like, 'That's the most amazing thing ever!' "
Growing up in a family-owned dance studio in Missouri had its perks for tap dancer Anthony Russo. But it also earned him constant taunting, especially in high school.
"There was a junior in my sophomore year health class who was absolutely relentless," he says. "I'd get tripped on my way to the front of the classroom and he'd say, 'Watch out, twinkle toes.' If I raised my hand and answered a question incorrectly, I'd hear a patronizing 'Nice one, Bojangles.' "
Choreographer Sergio Trujillo asked the women auditioning for ensemble roles in his newest musical to arrive in guys' clothing—"men's suits, or blazers and ties," he says. He wasn't being kinky or whimsical. The entire ensemble of Summer: The Donna Summer Musical is female, playing men and women interchangeably as they unfold the history of the chart-busting, Grammy-winning, indisputable Queen of Disco.
Have a scroll through Agnes Muljadi's Instagram feed (@artsyagnes), and you'll notice that in between her ballet shots is a curated mix of lifestyle pics. So what exactly sets her apart from the other influencers you follow? Muljadi has made a conscious effort to only feature natural beauty products, sustainable fashion and vegan foods. With over 500k followers, her social strategy (and commitment to making ethical choices) is clearly a hit. Ahead, learn why Muljadi switched to a vegan lifestyle, and the surprising way it's helped her dance career.
He may not be a household name, but you probably know Brandon Stirling Baker's work. The 30-year-old has designed the lighting for most of Justin Peck's ballets—including Heatscape for Miami City Ballet, and the edgy The Times Are Racing for New York City Ballet—but also Jamar Roberts' new Members Don't Get Weary at Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and a trio of Martha Graham duets for L.A. Dance Project.
He's been fascinated by lighting ever since he attended a public performing arts middle school in Sherman Oaks, California, where he had his first experiences lighting shows. He also has a background in music (he plays guitar and bass) and in drawing. Both, he says, are central to the way he approaches lighting dance.
Update: Due to an overwhelming response, the in-person audition has been moved to a larger location to accommodate more dancers. See details below.
For the first time in more than 10 years, Janet Jackson is holding an open audition for dancers.
Even better? You could land a spot in her #JTribe simply by posting a video on social media.
What does it take to become an international superstar? Carlos Acosta might have a few ideas.
At the Oxford Literary Festival earlier this month, the BBC sat down with Acosta to ask for his life lessons. His answers—which he says he will pass on to his kids one day—give incredible insight into how he's become such a beloved worldwide success.