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Sascha Radetsky Spills About His New Holiday Movie
When ABT principal Stella Abrera posted a shot on Instagram of her husband, Sascha Radetsky, filming a ballet-themed holiday movie for The Hallmark Channel a couple of months ago, we got pretty excited. It's called A Nutcracker Christmas, and the plot goes something like this: Ballerina receives tragic news during Nutcracker season, leaves dance (and her onstage/offstage partner) behind and, years later, reconnects with her old life (and love) when her niece is cast in a local production of The Nutcracker. It sounds like just the sort of thing I want to watch while curled up on my couch with fuzzy socks and a mug of hot chocolate: Cheesy-but-adorable plot? Check. Bona-fide dancers (such as rising star Sophia Lucia) in snippets of The Nutcracker? Check. And of course, we get Radetsky, everyone's favorite former ABT soloist and Center Stage star (and Dance Magazine contributor), back on the silver screen. We caught up with him via email to find out about his role in the movie, his thoughts on acting and what else he's up to these days.
Tell us about your character in the movie, Mark.
For several years, Mark Anders was the leading male dancer at “The New York Ballet." When a tragic accident leads to Lily [Amy Acker], his girlfriend, leaving him and New York behind, Mark enlists in the Marines and deploys to Afghanistan. Once back Stateside, he circles around to ballet again, assuming artistic directorship of “The Philadelphia Ballet." When Lily arrives in Philly with her niece, Sadie [Sophia Lucia], whom he has hired to dance Clara, Mark sets about trying to win her back—with gentle persistence, kindness and plenty of goofy humor.
Sascha Radetsky in "A Nutcracker Christmas"
Have you seen the finished film yet? How much of The Nutcracker is in there?
I haven't seen it, so I'm not sure how much dancing will make the ultimate cut. But I remember we shot bits of the party scene, snow, Act II divertissement and the grand pas. Sophia and the other dancers, most of whom hailed from the National Ballet of Canada, did some great work.
Do we get to see you dance?
Yes, in one short scene. But I've been retired and out of class for over two years, so I think the correct question isn't whether you get to see me dance, but whether you have to endure seeing me dance!
What was your favorite scene to shoot?
Strangely, it might have been the heaviest, most emotionally charged scene of the film, when Amy Acker's character, Lily, receives tragic news. Amy went to a very dark place for that scene—and stayed there for hours. Though we were stuck together in a cramped dressing room, I tried not to speak to her in between takes and camera setups, treating her like I would a pitcher throwing a no-hitter. I learned a great deal from her, during that scene and over the course of the entire shoot.
What drew you to this project?
It seemed a good opportunity to work on acting, the people involved were all great folks and the story was charming.
Amy Acker and Sascha Radetsky in "A Nutcracker Christmas"
How has your interest in acting developed since your early film days with Center Stage? What keeps you circling back?
I guess my relationship with acting has been sort of complicated. It can be great fun (especially when dancing isn't involved, as the pace and hours of shooting aren't very compatible with dance), but it's a distinct art form, of course, one that requires talent, study and coaching. I always enjoy the challenge of acting, and it's something I'd certainly like to do more of, but it's a tough gig to chase if you can't be 100% committed.
You're also heading NYU's Ballet Pedagogy program—how is that role treating you? How do you balance it with other creative endeavors?
Running the ABT/NYU Master's in Ballet Pedagogy Program has been rewarding thus far. My students are intelligent and hungry to learn, and I feel the information and experiences we're giving them are valuable and unique to ABT. I'm grateful that my predecessor, the inimitably wise Raymond Lukens, has agreed to keep a presence in the program; also that several of my old coaches and colleagues have given talks and master classes. I've also been acting as ballet master with the ABT Studio Company. I'd say I'm able to balance my responsibilities by getting out of Dodge and into the mountains every now and then to hike, fly-fish and regroup.
Do you have any fun dance-related (or not dance-related) holiday traditions?
Well, being involved in The Nutcracker is the inevitable tradition, so we're rarely in the same place every year over the holidays—Nut guestings would scatter us far and wide. Now that I'm not onstage anymore, I try to visit family, hit the mountains or hang out with Stell as she Sugar Plums her heart out.
Tune in this Saturday, December 10 at 8/7c (that's tomorrow night, folks!) to see Radetsky and his costars in action.
All images: Christos Kalohoridis, Copyright 2016 Crown Media United States LLC.
A few weeks ago, American Ballet Theatre announced the A.B.T. Women's Movement, a new program that will support three women choreographers per season, one of whom will make work on the main company.
"The ABT Women's Movement takes inspiration from the groundbreaking female choreographers who have left a lasting impact on ABT's legacy, including Agnes de Mille and Twyla Tharp," said artistic director Kevin McKenzie in a press release.
Hypothetically, this is a great idea. We're all for more ballet commissions for women. But the way ABT has promoted the initiative is problematic.
Some dancers move to New York City with their sights set on a dream job: that one choreographer or company they have to dance for. But when Maggie Cloud graduated from Florida State University in 2010, she envisioned herself on a less straightforward path.
"I always had in mind that I would be dancing for different people," she says. "I knew I had some kind of range that I wanted to tap into."
On the occasion of its 70th anniversary, the Ballet Nacional de Cuba tours the U.S. this spring with the resolute Cuban prima ballerina assoluta Alicia Alonso a the helm. Named a National Hero of Labor in Cuba, Alonso, 97, has weathered strained international relations and devastating fiscal challenges to have BNC emerge as a world-class dance company. Her dancers are some of ballet's best. On offer this time are Alonso's Giselle and Don Quixote. The profoundly Cuban company performs in Chicago May 18–20, Tampa May 23, Washington, D.C., May 29–June 3 and Saratoga, New York June 6–8.
We all know that the general population's knowledge of ballet is sometimes...a bit skewed. (See: people touching their fingertips to the top of their head, and Kendall Jenner hopping around at the barre.)
Would your average Joe know how to do ballet's most basic step: a plié? Or, more to the point, even know what it is?
SELF decided to find out.
New York City Ballet is celebrating the Jerome Robbins Centennial with twenty (20!) ballets. The great American choreographer died in 1998, so very few of today's dancers have actually worked with him. There are plenty of stories about how demanding (at times brutally so) he could be in rehearsal. But Peter Boal has written about Robbins in a more balanced, loving way. In this post he writes about how Robbins' crystal clear imagery helped him approach a role with clarity and purpose.
Who says you need fancy equipment to make a festival-worthy dance film? Right now, two New York City–based dance film festivals are calling for aspiring filmmakers to show their stuff—and you don't need anything more cumbersome than a smartphone to get in on the action.
Here's everything you need to know about how to submit:
When Lisset Santander bourréed onstage as Myrtha in BalletMet's Giselle this past February, her consummate portrayal of the Queen of the Wilis was marked by steely grace and litheness. The former Cuban National Ballet dancer had defected to the U.S. at 21, and after two years with the Ohio company, she's now closer to the dance career she says she always wanted: one of limitless possibilities.
For 17 years, James Samson has been the model Paul Taylor dancer. There is something fundamentally decent about his stage persona. He's a tall dancer—six feet—but never imposes himself. He's muscular, but gentle. And when he moves, it is his humanity that shines through, even more than his technique.
But all dancing careers come to an end, and James Samson's is no exception; now 43, he'll be retiring in August, after a final performance at the Teatro Romano in Verona, where he'll be dancing in Cloven Kingdom, Piazzolla Caldera and Promethean Fire.
The wait for Alexei Ratmansky's restaging of Petipa's Harlequinade is almost over! But if you can't wait until American Ballet Theatre officially debuts the ballet at the Metropolitan Opera House on June 6, we've got you covered. ABT brought the Harlequinade characters to life (and to the Alder Mansion in Yonkers, NY) in a short film by Ezra Hurwitz, and it's a guaranteed to make you laugh.
When an anonymous letter accused former New York City Ballet leader Peter Martins of sexual harassment last year, it felt like what had long been an open secret—the prevalence of harassment in the dance world—was finally coming to the surface. But the momentum of the #MeToo movement, at least in dance, has since died down.
Martins has retired, though an investigation did not corroborate any of the claims against him. He and former American Ballet Theatre star Marcelo Gomes, who suddenly resigned in December, were the only cases to make national headlines in the U.S. We've barely scratched the surface of the dance world's harassment problem.