This Pennsylvania Ballet Apprentice Landed a Principal Role in The Nutcracker
Sydney Dolan in company class. Photo by Scott Serio.
Pennsylvania Ballet apprentice Sydney Dolan is having a Nutcracker season she'll never forget.
Artistic director Angel Corella knew he'd found something special when Dolan attended his school's week-long Company Experience summer workshop in 2016. Within days, he offered her a company contract— without realizing that she was only 15 at the time.
She joined anyway. Now 16, she debuted as the Dewdrop Fairy in George Balanchine's The Nutcracker this weekend. We went backstage to find out how she handled the pressures of tackling a principal role while still just a teenage apprentice.
Sydney Dolan stretching during company class before a Sunday show of George Balanchine's The Nutcracker at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia. Photo by Scott Serio.
After finishing company class and before getting her hair and makeup done, Dolan practices her Dewdrop solo before an empty house. Photo by Scott Serio.
Dolan talks with Pennsylvania Ballet artistic director Angel Corella about her Dewdrop Fairy solo during intermission. Photo by Scott Serio.
Onstage performing as Dewdrop for the first time. Photo by Scott Serio.
Dolan is congratulated by parents and fellow company member and boyfriend Austin Eyler after her performance. Photo by Scott Serio.
The cast of Dragon Spring Phoenix Rise in rehearsal. Photo by Stephanie Berger, Courtesy The Shed
Akram Khan loves to dive into genres he is unfamiliar with. While his own movement vocabulary is a hybrid of kathak and contemporary dance, he has choreographed a new Giselle for English National Ballet, collaborated with flamenco artist Israel Galván and made a dance theater duet with film star Juliette Binoche. Now, in between touring Xenos, his final full-length solo, and several other projects, he's found time to tackle kung fu. Khan is part of the collaborative team behind Dragon Spring Phoenix Rise, a blockbuster musical based on themes of migration and the fight for survival, running June 22–July 27. Directed by Chen Shi-Zheng and featuring a score that remixes songs by Sia, it's part of the inaugural season of The Shed, a new venue in New York City.
I'm a Broadway dancer with a long second toe and the nail is always bruised. I had thought switching from pointe work to dancing in character shoes was the answer—I felt great for several years until recently. What's the problem?