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These Are the Performances Our Readers Loved the Most This Year

Our Readers' Choice winners. Photo credits, clockwise from top left: Michael Slobodian, courtesy TU Dance; Screenshot via HiHo Kids YouTube; Courtesy LUNA; Christopher Duggan, courtesy Jacob's Pillow; Jay Newman, courtesy Kinetic Light

We asked you for nominations, compiled your suggestions and had you vote on your favorites. Here's what you chose:


Best Viral Video

Winner: "Kids Meet a Ballerina," featuring Pacific Northwest Ballet's Elle Macy

Other Nominees:

• Syncopated Ladies' "Everybody Mad" Beychella cover

• Ballet Nacional de España's performance at Oteyza fashion show

• "Doomed," featuring RubberLegz and James Gregg

Most Moving Performance

DESCENT. Photo by Jay Newman, courtesy Kinetic Light

Winner: Alice Sheppard/Kinetic Light in DESCENT

Other Nominees:

• Dance Theatre of Harlem and artists from Collage Dance Collective in

Geoffrey Holder's Dougla

• National Ballet of Canada in John Neumeier's Nijinsky

• The Royal Ballet in Liam Scarlett's Swan Lake

Coolest Collaboration


Winner: TU Dance and Bon Iver's Come Through

Other Nominees:

• Menil Collection, Houston Ballet and the Merce Cunningham Trust's Merce Cunningham Dance and Concert, Arrivals and Departures: Cage, Cunningham, and Johns

• Sonya Tayeh and The Bengsons' you'll still call me by name

• The Joffrey Ballet and Lyric Opera of Chicago's Orphée et Eurydice

Best Dance Documentary


Winner: Ballet Now, directed by Steven Cantor

Other Nominees:

Gravity Hero, directed by Trey McIntyre

Bobbi Jene, directed by Elvira Lind

Most Inventive New Work

Winner: Odeon, by Ephrat Asherie Dance

Other Nominees:

GAY GUERRILLA/for julius, by MADBOOTS DANCE

Paramodernities, by Netta Yerushalmy

Silent Scream, by Olivier Wevers; performed by Whim W'Him

• Keone and Mari Madrid's e-book, Ruth

News
Photo by Gabriel Davalos, Courtesy Valdés

For decades the name Alicia Alonso has been virtually synonymous with Ballet Nacional de Cuba, the company she co-founded in Havana in 1948. Alonso died on October 17, just shy of what would have been her 99th birthday. In recent years, she had stepped back from day-to-day decision-making in the company. As if preparing for the future, in January, the company's leading ballerina, 42-year-old Viengsay Valdés, was named deputy director, a job that seems to encompass most of the responsibilities of a traditional director. Now, presumably, she will step into her new role as director of the company. Her debut as curator of the repertory comes in November, when the troupe will perform three mixed bills selected by her at the Gran Teatro de la Habana Alicia Alonso. The following has been translated from a conversation conducted in Spanish, Valdés' native tongue.

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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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Health & Body
Sara Mearns in the gym. Photo by Kyle Froman.

New York City Ballet principal Sara Mearns wasn't sure she was strong enough. A ballerina who has danced many demanding full-length and contemporary roles, she was about to push herself physically more than she thought was possible.

"I said, 'I can't. My body won't,' " she says. "He told me, 'Yes, it will.' "

She wasn't working with a ballet coach, but with personal trainer Joel Prouty, who was asking her to do squats with a heavier barbell than she'd ever used.

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In Memoriam
Alicia Alonso with Igor Youskevitch. Sedge Leblang, Courtesy Dance Magazine Archives.

Her Dying Swan was as fragile as her Juliet was rebellious; her Odile, scheming, her Swanilda, insouciant. Her Belle was joyous, and her Carmen, both brooding and full-blooded. But there was one role in particular that prompted dance critic Arnold Haskell to ask, "How do you interpret Giselle when you are Giselle?"

At eight, Alicia Alonso took her first ballet class on a stage in her native Cuba, wearing street clothes. Fifteen years later, put in for an ailing Alicia Markova in a performance of Giselle with Ballet Theatre, she staked her claim to that title role.

Alonso received recognition throughout the world for her flawless technique and her ability to become one with the characters she danced, even after she became nearly blind. After a career in New York, she and her then husband Fernando Alonso established the Cuban National Ballet and the Cuban National Ballet School, both of which grew into major international dance powerhouses and beloved institutions in their home country. On October 17, the company announced that, after leading the company for a remarkable 71 years, Alonso died from cardiovascular disease at the age of 98.

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