On the Rise: Joseph Gordon

With his aristocratic line, unforced assurance and charming presence, Joseph Gordon stands out among New York City Ballet's corps men. During the company's 2015–16 winter season, he received an impressive number of opportunities to step into demanding roles, easily mastering corps, demi, soloist and principal parts.

Company: New York City Ballet

Age: 23

Hometown: Phoenix, Arizona

Training: Phoenix Dance Academy, School of American Ballet

Accolades: Melissa Hayden Dance Scholarship at SAB and the 2016–17 Janice Levin Dancer Honoree at NYCB

Breakout season: Gordon debuted in two major roles in January. He was utterly convincing as the innocent, trusting Second Sailor in Jerome Robbins' Fancy Free and followed that just two days later with his first performance as the ultra-sophisticated partner of three ballerinas in Balanchine's Who Cares? By the season's end, he was bringing a new, unsuspected elegance to the third movement of Balanchine's Symphony in C while maintaining its high spirits.

An instant balletomane: Gordon says, “My parents knew dance meant a lot to me after they took me to my first ballet, a Nutcracker, when I was 5. I was so excited I stood up for the whole performance."

Raves from colleagues: Ballet master Jean-Pierre Frohlich, who oversees the Robbins repertoire, recalls, “It was easy to direct Joe in Fancy Free. He just got better and better at every rehearsal." Principal dancer Daniel Ulbricht says, “It was a joy to share the stage with Joe in Fancy. His eagerness and charm brought his role to life."

Addicted to the best: When asked about the Balanchine roles he is eager to conquer, Gordon cites Oberon in A Midsummer Night's Dream, “Rubies" in Jewels, Melancholic in The Four Temperaments and the Fourth Campaign in Stars and Stripes. One ballet that he speaks of in rapturous terms, however, is the powerfully abstract Agon: “I am overwhelmed by its concept. There's no major male solo, but it would be an honor to dance that pas de deux."

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Stark Photo Productions, Courtesy Harlequin

Why Your Barre Can Make or Break Your At-Home Dance Training

Throughout the pandemic, Shelby Williams, of Royal Ballet of Flanders (aka "Biscuit Ballerina"), has been sharing videos that capture the pitfalls of dancers working from home: slipping on linoleum, kicking over lamps and even taking windows apart at the "barre." "Dancers aren't known to be graceful all of the time," says Mandy Blackmon, PT, DPT, OSC, CMTPT, head physical therapist/medical director for Atlanta Ballet. "They tend to fall and trip."

Many dancers have tried to make their home spaces as safe as possible for class and rehearsal by setting up a piece of marley, like Harlequin's Dance Mat, to work on. But there's another element needed for taking thorough ballet classes at home: a portable barre.

"Using a barre is kinda Ballet 101," says 16-year-old Haley Dale, a student in her second year at American Ballet Theatre's Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School. She'd bought a portable barre from Harlequin to use at her parents' home in Northern Virginia even before the pandemic hit. "Before I got it, honestly I would stay away from doing barre work at home. Now I'm able to do it all the time."

Blackmon bought her 15-year-old stepdaughter a freestanding Professional Series Ballet Barre from Harlequin early on in quarantine. "I was worried about her injuring herself without one," she admits.

What exactly makes Harlequin's barres an at-home must-have, and hanging on to a chair or countertop so risky? Here are five major differences dancers will notice right away.

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December 2020