On the Rise: Russell Janzen

Janzen in "Diamonds" from Jewels. Photo by Paul Kolnik, Courtesy NYCB.

At last, New York City Ballet corps member Russell Janzen has found the success that had seemed inevitable when he joined the company in 2008. Though a stretch of injuries sidelined him at first, major roles are now regularly coming his way at age 25.

The 6' 3" dancer, who trained at The Rock School for Dance Education and then the School of American Ballet, got through recuperation from a late 2008 ankle sprain by telling himself it was a “growing experience." He returned to action, only to have a herniated disc a year later take him out for eight months. “That was pretty devastating," Janzen sighs. “But it made me realize how much I wanted to dance. Then I sprained my other ankle."

Janzen's career finally took off in 2014 after he got the plum solo that opens the finale of Jerome Robbins' Glass Pieces and Peter Martins cast him with Teresa Reichlen in his Barber Violin Concerto. Dressed entirely in white, they looked so well matched they could have been mistaken for twins.

“I'd been waiting for years to get a tall guy. With Russell, I got someone who also brought me cookies for our first rehearsal of 'Diamonds,' " says Reichlen.

They've since been paired several times in the Balanchine repertoire. As Titania's Cavalier in A Midsummer Night's Dream, Janzen flawlessly supported Reichlen as she was coolly presiding over her leafy bower. In Concerto Barocco, he lifted her seven times in quick succession, making each ascent equally high, every descent similarly soft. Then on his own as the tormented Schumann in Robert Schumann's “Davidsbündlertänze," he ranged from the numbness of the emotionally drained composer to the agony expressed by a wrenching backbend.

Principal Daniel Ulbricht added Janzen to his group Stars of American Ballet for its Jacob's Pillow debut in July. “He has an unselfish, princely, refined presentation of his partner," says Ulbricht. “Even in the corps he makes a pas de deux into a regal performance." And as principal Sterling Hyltin points out, “He looks fab in white tights."

Broadway
Courtesy Macy's, Inc.

As you're prepping your Thanksgiving meal, why not throw in a dash of dance?

This year's Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is stuffed (pun intended) with performances from four stellar Broadway shows, the Radio City Rockettes and students from three New York City dance institutions.

Tune in to NBC November 28 from 9 am to noon (in all time zones), or catch the rebroadcast at 2 pm (also in all time zones). Here's what's in store:

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Sponsored by NYCDA
Ailey II artistic director Troy Powell teaching an Ailey Workshop at NYCDA. Courtesy NYCDA

Back in 2011 when Joe Lanteri first approached Katie Langan, chair of Marymount Manhattan College's dance department, about getting involved with New York City Dance Alliance, she was skeptical about the convention/competition world.

"But I was pleasantly surprised by the enormity of talent that was there," she says. "His goal was to start scholarship opportunities, and I said okay, I'm in."

Today, it's fair to say that Lanteri has far surpassed his goal of creating scholarship opportunities. But NYCDA has done so much more, bridging the gap between the convention world and the professional world by forging a wealth of partnerships with dance institutions from Marymount to The Ailey School to Complexions Contemporary Ballet and many more. There's a reason these companies and schools—some of whom otherwise may not see themselves as aligned with the convention/competition world—keep deepening their relationships with NYCDA.

Now, college scholarships are just one of many ways NYCDA has gone beyond the typical weekend-long convention experience and created life-changing opportunities for students. We rounded up some of the most notable ones:

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Rant & Rave
Sergei Polunin. Photo by British Broadcasting Corporation and Polunin Ltd., Courtesy Sundance Selects.

Last week, Variety reported that Sergei Polunin would reunite with the team behind Dancer for another documentary. "Where 'Dancer' looked at his whole life, family and influences," director Steven Cantor said, " 'Satori' will focus more squarely on his creative process as performer and, for the first time ever, choreographer." The title references a poorly received evening of work by the same name first presented by Polunin in 2017. (It recently toured to Moscow and St. Petersburg.)

I cannot be the only person wondering why we should care.

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Sponsored by Harlequin Floors
Left: Hurricane Harvey damage in Houston Ballet's Dance Lab; Courtesy Harlequin. Right: The Dance Lab pre-Harvey; Nic Lehoux, Courtesy Houston Ballet.

"The show must go on" may be a platitude we use to get through everything from costume malfunctions to stormy moods. But when it came to overcoming a literal hurricane, Houston Ballet was buoyed by this mantra to go from devastated to dancing in a matter of weeks—with the help of Harlequin Floors, Houston Ballet's longstanding partner who sprang into action to build new floors in record time.

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