Dance Training
Irina Kolpakova in the studio with Katherine Williams. Photo by Quinn Wharton for Pointe.

Being coached by a treasure like former Kirov prima Irina Kolpakova is an experience most dancers only dream of. But company members at American Ballet Theatre have been the lucky beneficiaries of her wisdom since 1990. Thanks to Instagram, where pros like Gillian Murphy and James Whiteside share snippets of their sessions with Kolpakova, any ballet lover can be a fly on the wall during rehearsals with the famed ballet mistress.

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The Creative Process
Hallberg describes dancing with Osipova as "a bit like an addiction." Photo by Stephanie Berger, courtesy Sadler's Wells

On the surface, intercontinental ballet stars David Hallberg and Natalia Osipova would seem to make unlikely partners. He's an American paragon of elegant princeliness; she's an explosive Russian powerhouse who seems to mock the laws of gravity.

But since they first danced together in 2009, they've moved audiences to tears as Romeo and Juliet, and sent chills through spines as Giselle and Albrecht. Whether at American Ballet Theatre, The Royal or the Bolshoi, each time they're together they bring out new depths in each other's artistry.

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Dancer Voices
Kelsey Grills in rehearsal for ABT Incubator. Photo by JJ Geiger, courtesy ABT Incubator.

"Is everyone okay?" was my most used sentence during my time with American Ballet Theatre. There I was, leading world-class ABT dancers through my own choreographic process. I knew that it was unlike anything they'd ever experienced, but I think half of the time I was asking that question, it was really directed to myself.

ABT Incubator is a two-week choreographic program created by principal dancer David Hallberg. Supported by The Howard Hughes Corporation, this process-oriented lab gave me and four other choreographers the opportunity to generate ideas for the work we have been inspired to create.


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News
The illustrious audition panel for ABT Incubator watches a submission. Photo by Emily Northrop, Courtesy ABT

This month, American Ballet Theatre principal David Hallberg sees the first test of his directorial chops with the launch of ABT Incubator, the company's latest initiative to promote the creation of new ballets, particularly by in-house talent.

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News
Xenos, Akram Khan's final full-length solo, is an ode to the soldiers of World War I. Photo by Nicol Vizioli, Courtesy Sadler's Wells

We might have gotten a little bit carried away with this year's "Season Preview"—but with the 2018–19 season packing so many buzzy shows, how could we not? Here are over two dozen tours, premieres and revivals that have us drooling.

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Career Advice
David Hallberg wants to give choreographers a place to experiment. Photo by Patrick Frenette, courtesy ABT

The Metropolitan Opera House is a stadium; an ornately lush stadium, but one nonetheless. The 3,800-seat challenge that American Ballet Theatre readily tackles is typically filled to capacity because of the stalwarts: Swan Lake, Romeo and Juliet, the classics that, without doubt, have stood the test of time and have brought people in droves to the Met.

A new commission is a risk best handled by the choreographers who can produce works that offer seasoned polish and dependability. Rarely is it given to an "unknown." And although, in the history of large commissions, there inevitably exists a freedom of creative impulse, that freedom must not reach too deep, for the fall off the cliff is steep and far. There is simply too much at stake: time, money, reputation.

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News
Henry Leutwyler

Today, American Ballet Theatre announced a new initiative to foster the development of choreography by company members and freelance dancemakers. Aptly titled ABT Incubator, the program, directed by principal David Hallberg, will give selected choreographers the opportunity to spend two weeks workshopping new dances.

"It has always been my vision to establish a process-oriented hub to explore the directions ballet can forge now and in the future," said Hallberg in a press release from the company. Interested? Here's how you can apply to participate.

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Dancers Trending
Natalia Osipova, Margot Fonteyn and David Hallberg share more than just sterling international ballet careers. Photos by Gene Schiavone, Courtesy ABT; Courtesy DM Archives; Gene Schiavone, Courtesy ABT

There's got to be something about May 18—maybe the Ballet Gods celebrate some forgotten holiday that causes them to be particularly generous. Because how else do you explain that no less than three international ballet stars all share a birthday on, you guessed it, May 18?

Maybe today should be a ballet holiday in their honor, but, regardless, we're celebrating with clips from some of their signature roles:

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News
Dorrance Dance, a Fall for Dance favorite, will have their largest solo engagement to date. PC Julieta Cervantes

New York City Center just announced programming for the 2018-19 season, and we're frantically marking our calendars for all the must-see dance. This year is the venue's 75th anniversary, and they're pulling out all the stops—from the reliable fan favorite Fall for Dance to the most epic Balanchine celebration and more:

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Rant & Rave
Gallim in Stone Skipping PC Stephanie Berger

Here is my list of favorites from this year, some of them with video clips embedded. I've also added "lingering thoughts" about certain situations in the dance world. As usual, my choices are limited by what I have actually seen. Most of the following are world premieres.

Best Choreography

Andrea Miller's Stone Skipping in the Egyptian room at the Temple of Dendur at the Metropolitan Museum of Art: Ancient and ultra-modern at once, gaga-initiated grapplings, telling many stories of people in struggle and solidarity. The group sequence (with her company Gallim plus dancers from Juilliard) from lying on the floor with pelvis bobbing to standing, to swaying, to skipping wildly about was transcendent.

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Dancers Trending

If you're like us, your holiday shopping list still has a few unchecked boxes. Maybe you've been busy with Nutcracker shows, maybe you're still searching for the perfect gift for that special dancer in your life. Whatever your excuse, these ideas are sure to delight every dancer or dance-lover on your list. The best part? They're all Amazon Prime eligible.

A Body of Work: Dancing to the Edge and Back, by David Hallberg, $18.30

American Ballet Theatre principal David Hallberg shares his often-trying journey to become one of the most revered classicists dancing today in this raw memoir. He writes about what it's like to almost give up on your dreams but to persevere—required reading for any aspiring dancer.

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Dancers Trending
Original photo by Johan Persson.

The Anglophiles in our office (myself included) are pretty chuffed to hear that there's another Royal Wedding in the works now that Meghan Markle and Prince Harry have made it official. And naturally, it got us thinking about that wonderful staple of classical (and not-so-classical) ballet, the wedding pas de deux. To celebrate, here are five of our favorite examples:

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Popular
PC Inez & Vinoodh

Fresh off his striking Nike ad campaign (and his Dance Magazine cover), American Ballet Theatre's prodigal principal has another high-profile collaboration up his sleeve. And this one is, shall we say, dazzling.

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Health & Body

While David Hallberg was recovering from Achilles tendinopathy, one of the treatments that the Australian Ballet rehab team gave him was a stair running exercise. "This is an exercise David needs to continue to do forever, every day," says AB's principal physiotherapist Sue Mayes.

The basic idea is to run up and down flights of stairs to the beat of a metronome in order to monitor and challenge the intensity and volume of loading on the Achilles tendon. The exercise simultaneously strengthens the tendon and provides a cardiovascular workout.

(Today, Hallberg is back in action and up to more than ever before, including a major Nike campaign.)

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Dancers Trending
Hallberg modeling Nike's new poncho. Photo via WWD.com

Over the past week, David Hallberg has been up to something unusual: He's started to become the next Misty Copeland.

I know, I know. Hear me out. While he's obviously not a black woman in a field where that population is sorely underrepresented, he seems to be taking a few pages out of Copeland's playbook, and making a go at reaching household name status.

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Popular
Henry Leutwyler

Let's recap David Hallberg's very busy May, shall we? Last week, we announced the American Ballet Theatre principal as our June cover star.

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Popular
Courtesy of Instagram/Doug Gifford

The New York City premiere of Alexei Ratmansky's sugary sweet story ballet, Whipped Cream, made for one of the most exciting spring galas at American Ballet Theatre yet. While we're usually in awe of the gowns the dancers sport on the red carpet beforehand, this time around, it was all about Whipped Cream's colorful and over-the-top costumes by Mark Ryden—and, okay, a few major dress moments, too. Ahead, check out what went on behind-the-scenes.


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Dancers Trending
Henry Leutwyler

David Hallberg almost quit dancing two years ago. The international ballet star, whose talent and drive had made him the first American to join the Bolshoi Ballet as a principal dancer, was struggling after a 2014 ankle surgery to repair a frayed deltoid ligament. A resulting mass of scar tissue ultimately required a second surgery. Impingements and Achilles tendinopathy hounded him, making it nearly impossible to plié, as he pushed to get back into the studio.

Meanwhile, he was fielding promising offers to direct companies and curate festivals. Unsure of himself, the American Ballet Theatre principal sought advice from ABT artistic director Kevin McKenzie: Was it time to retire and move on to a leadership role, or was it worth giving his recovery another shot?

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2017 has started off with some fantastic news: David Hallberg is coming back to dance in the U.S.

American Ballet Theatre announced yesterday that he'll be dancing with the company during its spring season at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York. Hallberg, 34, hasn't performed with ABT since June 2014—and fans (including us) have been missing his princely presence ever since.

For two and a half years, an injured deltoid ligament in his ankle has kept him off stage both at ABT and the Bolshoi Ballet (where he holds the distinction of being the company's first American principal). It's been a major setback for such a talented dancer right at the peak of his career.

Hallberg in class yesterday, via nytimes.com

But Hallberg has literally gone to the ends of the earth to recover: He's spent the past year in Melbourne, following an intense physical therapy program designed by the Australian Ballet's dance medicine specialist Sue Mayes and her team (who are considered some of the best in the world at what they do). According to the Sydney Morning Herald, his regimen included two hours of strength training in the morning, followed by two hours of ballet, then resting with his feet in an ice bucket before two more hours of strength work. "One of the most off-the-wall things I've been doing is running up flights of stairs with a metronome in my pocket to make every step the exact same speed," he told the SMH reporter.

Although he added that he still has pain, and doesn't know if it will ever go away, he feels ready to dance again. Last month, he made a quiet comeback dancing Franz in Coppélia at the Australian Ballet.

So what will he perform with ABT? That hasn't been announced yet. He just started back in company class in New York yesterday. But a quick look at the casting lineup shows "TBA"s for the male lead in performances of Alexei Ratmansky's new Whipped Cream, plus Giselle and Onegin. Hallberg told Rosyln Sulcas of The New York Times that he was particularly excited to work with Ratmansky again, so Whipped Cream is probably a safe bet. We're keeping our fingers crossed he's healthy enough to perform much more than that this season—and for many more seasons to come.

 

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Let’s not get too excited, but next month ballet superstar David Hallberg returns to the stage. He’s been recuperating from an ankle injury in Australia, where he will start dancing again. The Australian Ballet, which has been helpful in his two-year recovery, asked him to perform the role of Franz in their scheduled run of Coppélia at Sydney Opera House, Dec. 13, 16, 19 and 21. It will be a debut for him, since he is more often cast as either a prince, a villain or in contemporary works at American Ballet Theatre.

Hallberg made history in 2011 as the first American to become a principal at the Bolshoi. Our June 2012 cover story sang his praises as a classical dance artist who’s not afraid to experiment. Commenting about the Bolshoi approach, he said, “It’s more open and, in essence, bigger. I’m so open to all of that because I want to get the most out of learning the Bolshoi technique.”

His view of dance goes beyond ballet. While living in New York, he often attended downtown dance and performances in museums. He’s also lent his pristine presence to some films. Last year Hallberg collaborated with Italian artist Francesco Vezzoli on a performance piece with Performa, a New York City–based organization that presents interdisciplinary works. (Obviously the work, Fortuna Desperata, required less of him technically than a full-fledged ballet would.) He’s flirted with the fashion world too. (His ability to improvise is no doubt an asset here.)

Photo by Bjorn Iooss for CR Fashion Book

But it’s been a long time since ballet audiences have seen Hallberg perform. Fans at both American Ballet Theatre and the Bolshoi have been wondering when he’ll be back. According to writer Deborah Jones, he first danced with the Australian Ballet in its Nutcracker in 2010. And when he hosted a special Legacy Gala Program at Youth America Grand Prix in 2015, he spoke warmly about Australian Ballet, one of the several companies that performed that night at his request.

We’d all love to see Hallberg dance again. But he told The New York Times in an email that he didn’t know what the future holds. He plans to “just step onstage quietly here and see what transpires.”

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