Stella Abrera in Le Corsaire. Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy ABT.

Stella Abrera to Retire from American Ballet Theatre

American Ballet Theatre announced today that, after 24 years, beloved principal dancer Stella Abrera will retire from the stage this coming summer. Her farewell performance will be June 13, 2020, at the Metropolitan Opera House, dancing the title role in Giselle.


Giselle holds special significance for her. In 2015, Abrera, then a 37-year-old soloist, made a triumphant debut in the title role, stepping in for an injured dancer at the last minute. (She herself had been slated to dance Giselle seven years earlier, but a debilitating injury sidelined her. It took years for her to fully recover.) Shortly after her performance, and after 14 years as a soloist, Abrera was made a principal dancer. "At my age and with the amount of time I had been out I didn't think it was going to happen," she told Pointe in 2016. "I thought, My career is going to be over soon, I'd better just go for broke whenever I go out onstage."

Since then she's more than made up for lost time in debuts including Aurora, Juliet, Cinderella, Terpsichore in Balanchine's Apollo and Princess Tea Flower in Alexei Ratmansky's Whipped Cream. The Filipino-American dancer has also spent plenty of time giving back: She founded Steps Forward for the Phillippines in 2014 to benefit victims of Hurricane Haiyan, and in 2018 directed a benefit gala in Manila to raise money for the Stella Abrera Dance and Music Hall at CENTEX (Center of Excellence in Public Elementary Education). She is also the director of Pro Studio/Stella Abrera®, a new training and coaching initiative for professional dancers at Kaatsbaan Cultural Park.

There's no news yet of what Abrera's next step will be. But in addition to her farewell performance on June 13, audiences can catch her this Tuesday at New York Koch Theater in Alexei Ratmansky's The Seasons, as well as in performances of Giselle on tour with ABT in Washington, DC (February 15) and Durham, North Carolina (March 28).

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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