Playlists

The most-played song on your Spotify says a lot about you. Maybe it's that guilty pleasure track you dance to while you're in the kitchen, or the one you have to listen to before going onstage.

We talked to 10 of our favorite pros about the song that's racked up the most plays on their phones—whether it's one they teach to, cross-train to, or just a song that helps them escape.

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Health & Body
Quinn Wharton for Pointe

We know there are certain things dancers can do pre-show to help them perform at their best. (Like warming up, eating something energizing and maybe even taking a nap!)

But pre-show routines are also highly individual, and involve artists preparing their heads for performance just as much as their bodies. That could mean anything from listening to a favorite song, bonding with cast members or meditating.

Feeling like your pre-show ritual could use a bit of inspiration? These 12 pros shared their tried-and-true routines with us:

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Dancers Trending

It can be hard to imagine life without—or just after—dance. Perhaps that's why we find it so fascinating to hear what our favorite dancers think they'd be doing if they weren't performing for a living.

We've been asking stars about the alternate career they'd like to try in our "Spotlight" Q&A series, and their answers—from the unexpected to the predictable—do not disappoint:

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Career Advice
Derrick Agnoletti feels non-ranked companies challenge dancers to be more versatile. Photo by Cheryl Mann, courtesy The Joffrey Ballet

Over eight years, Sasha Mukhamedov rose through Dutch National Ballet to become a principal dancer in 2016. Of its ranks—aspirant, élève, corps de ballet, coryphée, grand sujet, soloist and principal—she skipped élève and grand sujet along the way. "In having these levels, if you feel you've done well and your director is happy and promotes you, it gives you this motivational push knowing you made it one step closer to what you've dreamed of," she says.

Many large European ballet companies have preserved the traditional multi-runged ladder of rankings, which originated with the Paris Opéra Ballet. (DNB dropped the aspirant level in 2013 with the addition of its second company.) Others, like The Royal Ballet, the Bolshoi Ballet, Dresden Semperoper Ballet, the Mariinsky Ballet and English National Ballet retain at least five levels.

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25 to Watch
Photo credits, clockwise from bottom left: Peter Mueller, Courtesy Cincinnati Ballet; Jayme Thornton; Jochen Viehoff, Courtesy Stephanie Troyak; Karolina Kuras, Courtesy National Ballet of Canada; Natasha Razina, Courtesy State Academic Mariinsky Theatre; Kim Kenney, Courtesy Atlanta Ballet; Jim Lafferty; Arian Molina Soca, Courtesy Pennsylvania Ballet; Altin Kaftira, Courtesy Dutch National Ballet; Scott Shaw, Courtesy Shamar Wayne Watt

What's next for the dance world? Our annual list of the dancers, choreographers and companies that are on the verge of skyrocketing has a pretty excellent track record of answering that question.

Here they are: the 25 up-and-coming artists we believe represent the future of our field.

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Just for Fun
Royal Winnipeg Ballet revived Lila York's adaptation of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale earlier this month. Photo by David Cooper, Courtesy RWB

When American Ballet Theatre announced yesterday that it would be adding Jane Eyre to its stable of narrative full-lengths, the English nerds in the DM offices (read: most of us) got pretty excited. Cathy Marston's adaptation of Charlotte Brontë's classic novel was created for England's Northern Ballet in 2016, and, based on the clips that have made their way online, it seems like a perfect fit for ABT's Met Opera season.

It also got us thinking about what other classic novels we'd love to see adapted into ballets—but then we realized just how many there already are. From Russian epics to beloved children's books, here are 10 of our favorites that have already made the leap from page to stage. (Special shoutout to Northern Ballet, the undisputed MVP of turning literature into live performance.)


Northern Ballet in David Nixon's The Great Gatsby (F. Scott Fitzgerald)

Star-crossed lovers? Check. Wild party scenes? Check. The 1920s aesthetic is just bonus.

Dutch National Ballet in John Cranko's Onegin (Alexander Pushkin)

It's a novel in verse, but it still counts! Cranko's pas de deux work vividly paints the emotional turmoil of Pushkin's characters, such as this sequence in which Tatiana imagines being loved by the haughty Onegin.

The Royal Ballet in Liam Scarlett's Frankenstein (Mary Shelley)

It's spooky, it's sensational, it's a deep meditation on the nature of humanity—oh, and it's alive.

Northern Ballet in David Nixon's The Three Musketeers (Alexandre Dumas)

All for one and one for all! (And we're all in for this epic fight choreography the dancers took to a famous Abbey in their hometown of Leeds, England.)

Charlotte Ballet in Sasha Janes' Wuthering Heights (Emily Brontë)

The Brontë sisters had a knack for writing complex, tempestuous relationships—great fodder for pas de deux like this one.

The Washington Ballet in Septime Webre's Peter Pan (J. M. Barrie)

Sword-fighting, pirates, pixie dust and a ticking crocodile? This one simply flies off the page.

Hamburg Ballet in John Neumeier's Anna Karenina (Leo Tolstoy)

Some would argue that Tolstoy's epic is the greatest literature ever written, but you can't argue with the fact that the titular heroine is a deliciously complex character to tackle.

The Royal Ballet in Christopher Wheeldon's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (Lewis Carroll)

Why is a raven like a writing desk? We still might not know the answer to Carroll's riddle, but we do know that Wheeldon's blockbuster production is so full of incredible moments (like Steven McRae stealing the show as a tap-dancing Mad Hatter) that we had trouble narrowing it down.

Atlanta Ballet in Michael Pink's Dracula (Bram Stoker)

There's a reason it seemed at one point like every ballet company in America had a production of Dracula in its repertoire.

Northern Ballet in Jonathan Watkins' 1984 (George Orwell)

Just in case the dystopian nightmare conjured by Orwell wasn't vivid enough in your own imagination.

Just for Fun
Royal Winnipeg Ballet revived Lila York's adaptation of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale earlier this month. Photo by David Cooper, Courtesy RWB

When American Ballet Theatre announced yesterday that it would be adding Jane Eyre to its stable of narrative full-lengths, the English nerds in the DM offices (read: most of us) got pretty excited. Cathy Marston's adaptation of Charlotte Brontë's classic novel was created for England's Northern Ballet in 2016, and, based on the clips that have made their way online, it seems like a perfect fit for ABT's Met Opera season.

It also got us thinking about what other classic novels we'd love to see adapted into ballets—but then we realized just how many there already are. From Russian epics to beloved children's books, here are 10 of our favorites that have already made the leap from page to stage. (Special shoutout to Northern Ballet, the undisputed MVP of turning literature into live performance.)

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Dancers Trending
PC Michel Schnater for Dance Spirit

Ever since we heard that Michaela DePrince's memoir, Taking Flight, was going to be a movie, we've been on the edge of our seats waiting for more info. Almost three years later, it's been worth the wait—we just learned that the Queen of Pop herself will be directing DePrince's biopic.

"Michaela's journey resonated with me deeply as both an artist and an activist who understands adversity," Madonna said in a statement. "We have a unique opportunity to shed light on Sierra Leone and let Michaela be the voice for all the orphaned children she grew up beside."

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News
Miami City Ballet in Jerome Robbins' West Side Story Suite. Photo by Daniel Azoulay, Courtesy MCB

From the over-the-top antics of Fancy Free to the stylized realism of West Side Story, the discomfiting world of The Cage to the poignant humanity of Dances at a Gathering, the work of Jerome Robbins redefined what American dance could be. To celebrate the 100th anniversary of his birth, ballet companies across the country are performing his iconic works throughout the year. Here are a few of our favorites, but keep your eyes peeled for more Robbins tributes in 2018.

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Dancers Trending
via Instagram, Courtney Lavine

Throughout the summer, we've been noticing beachside views and scenic waterfalls sprinkled in with all of the usual rehearsal and performance posts we see from ballet's biggest stars. But even while enjoying some sun and relaxation, dancers like Sara Mearns and Michaela DePrince prove that they never really take a break from ballet. Ahead, check out some of the cutest vacay pictures and videos our favorite dancers have been sharing this summer. Not only will they give you some future vacation inspo, they'll also have you itching to get back in the studio.

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Popular
PC Ernst Coppejans

Dance is a powerful form of expression, and Ahmad Joudeh is using its influence to promote peace.

The 27-year-old is a Palestinian refugee, whose decision to pursue his passion for ballet has made him the target of death threats from terrorist organizations. Despite the danger, Joudeh has decided to continue on his path as a dancer, using his performances as an opportunity to spread a message of peace and cultural awareness.

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Popular
Juanjo Arques rehearses his "Homo Ludens" with Dutch National Ballet dancers. Photo by Altin Kaftira, Courtesy DNB.

"Choreographers don't just pop up fully formed," says Ted Brandsen, artistic director of Dutch National Ballet. "It's a responsibility for us, as company directors, to create room for the new generations of dancemakers."

Knowing the challenges, both artistic and practical, of setting out on a choreographic career, Brandsen has announced a four-pronged strategy for nurturing new talent at DNB. Alongside the long-running choreographic workshop for company dancers, which Brandsen helped launch back in 1985, there is now a choreographer and composer exchange with the British contemporary company Rambert. Brandsen is also mentoring DNB's recently appointed Young Creative Associates, Juanjo Arques and Peter Leung. And there will be a new annual Choreographic Academy, beginning in May, inviting young dancemakers to spend three weeks in research and creation with Dutch National's junior arm, focusing on process rather than product. One of the first four choreographers to take part is San Francisco Ballet's Myles Thatcher.

While there are other companies worldwide taking a proactive approach in this area—New York City Ballet, The Royal Ballet and Stuttgart Ballet all have initiatives Brandsen admires—it is not a universal practice.

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Dancers Trending
The premiere of Dutch National Ballet's Night Fall. Photo by Michel Schnater, Courtesy DNB

Fog envelops you as swans and sylphs flash right past your shoulder. This is Peter Leung's Night Fall, a new virtual reality 360 dance film featuring Dutch National Ballet. It puts you inside the "white acts" the film portrays as though you were a member of the corps.

Over the past year, ballet companies and premier artists have been creating new work and adapting existing ballets for the virtual reality world via 360-degree video technology. From English National Ballet's Giselle VR, a two-minute adaptation of Akram Khan's new production, to The Royal Ballet's snow scene from The Nutcracker, classical ballet is forging new partnerships with technology and entertainment companies to cross over into this new platform.

360-degree video technology offers unprecedented access and astounding visuals. Using an omnidirectional camera or several cameras, every angle is captured and the resulting footage stitched together. During playback online, the viewer has the option of exploring the entire panorama.

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Dancers Trending
Emma Kauldhar, Courtesy Dutch National Ballet

Michaela DePrince has defied the odds again and again. She overcame incredible circumstances, rising from an orphanage in war-torn Sierra Leone to join Dutch National Ballet, where she was recently promoted to grand sujet (demi-soloist). With principal roles and book deals under her belt, DePrince is still doing the impossible—managing her schedule as a college student, an international guest artist, an ambassador for War Child Holland (an organization for children living in war zones) and, most recently, a featured dancer in Beyoncé's Lemonade.

You're in Beyoncé's visual album Lemonade. How did that happen?

Her publicist emailed my mom. At first, I was like, “It's totally fake, it's totally fake." I sent it to my agent and she contacted Beyoncé's publicist. They emailed us on a Monday, and I was in New Orleans filming on Friday. I was there for four days. And I got to meet her! One of my best friends absolutely adores her, so I was trying to see if she could sign something for him. I didn't have anything for her to sign, so she said, “Oh, I'll just call him."

You were just promoted. Where do you see your new position taking you?

Every little girl dreams of being a principal one day. But for me, the older I get, the more I just want to grow as an artist. So if I don't get to become a principal, it's okay. I really want to move people when I dance.

You've been at Dutch National Ballet for a while now. Does it feel like home?

It's my third season. I should know Dutch by now, but I still don't speak any! But even when I was 15 and had the opportunity to perform in The Hague, I felt at home right away—that's the reason why I wanted to go there. It's a very international company, so it's nice that we're all from different places and have a little family there. Because we all miss our families.

What roles are you looking forward to performing?

I'm hoping I'll do something really nice in La Bayadère, but I'm not quite sure. I don't want to put pressure on my director just because I got promoted.

Do you have any other projects in the works?

This month I'm going to Guadalajara to perform in Isaac Hernández's gala to raise money for his school in Mexico. I've known him since I was 8 years old. This is an amazing project for me because I've wanted to open up a school in Sierra Leone so kids can dance there for free. But right now I'm focusing on Dutch National. We have an amazing program coming up, and we're working with Justin Peck on Year of the Rabbit. I'm also studying for college right now. I'm going to be studying human rights, but right now I'm just working on English courses.

Do you ever picture yourself dancing for an American company?

I would love to dance for San Francisco Ballet. But right now I really love Dutch National. If it works out that I'm invited to a different company, then great. But I'll probably stay here for quite a while.

Magazine

Above: Ben Folds and Nashville Ballet’s Sadie Bo Harris

 

Ben Folds Joins the Ballet

NASHVILLE

It’s no surprise that in Nashville, aka “Music City,” Nashville Ballet has become known for its collaborations with musical artists. Pop star Ben Folds visits the company May 2–4 to accompany artistic director Paul Vasterling’s new Ben Folds Piano Concerto at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center. The starry collaboration with Folds, one of the biggest celebrities to pair up with Nashville Ballet, may bring new audiences to Petite Mort (a company premiere) and Serenade, which complete the program. nashvilleballet.com.

 

 

French Invasion

NEW YORK CITY

These days, it seems like French contemporary dance has gone conceptual. But there’s a wide range, and we’re about to see a big slice of it. From May 1–18, under the banner DANSE: A French-American Festival of Performance & Ideas, 17 U.S. premieres will fill New York City theaters, from the Chocolate Factory to the Joyce. One highlight is the excellent Lyon Opera Ballet in Christian Rizzo’s dreamlike ni fleurs, ni ford-mustang at BAM. Another is the disturbingly bizarre Baron Samedi, a “choreographic opera” by the late Alain Buffard, at New York Live Arts. Look for familiar New York City dancers David Thomson and Will Rawls—and, from the Ivory Coast, the raw, awe-inspiring Nadia Beugré. frenchculture.org/DANSE.

 

Above: Lyon Opera Ballet in ni fleurs, ni ford-mustang

 

 

DD’s Diary

NEW YORK CITY

Danspace Project has deepened the way we look at choreography through its PLATFORM programming. Launched in 2010, the series refracts many ideas through a single theme or dance artist, spreading its offerings over a month. PLATFORM 2014: Diary of an Image delves into the work of DD Dorvillier, a supremely quirky dancer/choreographer. Nothing she does can be construed as graceful, yet her antics—be they austere or silly—draw you in. From May 19–June 14, Danspace presents two new works by Dorvillier, performances by her collaborators (including favorite downtown composer Zeena Parkins) and a publication that includes writings by some of her fellow explorers: Heather Kravas, Jennifer Lacey and Jennifer Monson. danspaceproject.org.

 

Above: DD Dorvillier in No Change or “freedom is a psycho-kinetic skill”

 

 

Twice as Nice

AMSTERDAM

Geographically, the Netherlands may only be about the size of Maryland, but the tiny country has produced a disproportionate number of remarkable artists. Dutch National Ballet shows off that cultural abundance in Dutch Doubles, which matches up four Netherlands-based choreographers with fellow countrymen from the fields of fashion, music, photography and sculpture. Hans van Manen, one of the founding fathers of European contemporary dance, will work with renowned harpist Remy van Kesteren, 56 years van Manen’s junior; honorary Dutchman Jorma Elo (he’s Finnish, but danced with Nederlands Dans Theater for years) will pair his spiky pop culture–tinged choreography with fashion from red-hot design duo Viktor & Rolf. Rounding out the choreographic quartet are the acutely musical Ton Simons and rising star Juanjo Arqués. National Opera & Ballet, April 16–May 7. operaballet.nl.

 

Above: DNB’s Igone de Jongh (right) and Rink Sliphorst in Viktor & Rolf’s costumes

 

 

Romeo and Juliet Redux

CHICAGO

It takes a sort of wild courage to reimagine a work as iconic as Romeo and Juliet. But beyond the name and score, it’s hard to make a side-by-side comparison between Krzysztof Pastor’s contemporary take on the story, which the Joffrey Ballet gives its U.S. premiere starting April 30, and the more traditional version by Kenneth MacMillan. Choreographed on the Scottish Ballet in 2008, Pastor’s ballet is set in three different decades of 20th-century Italy, following the country through fascism and war. In lieu of a set, a multimedia video backdrop allows Pastor to jump from era to era. The costuming is more pedestrian than Shakespearean, the choreography more confrontational than swoony. Roosevelt University, April 30–May 11. joffrey.org.

 

Above: Joffrey Ballet’s Alberto Velazquez and Mahallia Ward as Romeo and Juliet

 

 

Photos from top: ANTHONYMATULA, Courtesy Nashville Ballet; Michael Cavalca; Thomas Dunn; Petrovsky & Ramone, Courtesy Dutch National Ballet; Christopher Duggan, Courtesy Joffrey Ballet

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