Looking for a good summer read (or several)? Dance Magazine has got you covered. So many of our favorite dance artists are secret (or not-so-secret) bookworms that we decided to ask them for recommendations—and where better to start than American Ballet Theatre principal and #BallerinaBookClub leader Isabella Boylston? She dished about the books she keeps on her nightstand, what she reads when she's in need of a little inspiration (hint: She's big into fantasy) and more.
Story ballets that debut during American Ballet Theatre's spring season at the Metropolitan Opera House are always the subject of much curiosity—and, sometimes, much debate. Cathy Marston's Jane Eyre was no different. The ballet follows the eponymous heroine of Charlotte Brönte's novel as she grows from a willful orphan to a self-possessed governess, charting her romance with the haughty Mr. Rochester and the social forces that threaten to tear them apart.
While the ballet was warmly received in the UK when Northern Ballet premiered it in 2016, its reception from New York City–based critics has been far less welcoming. A group of editors from Dance Magazine and two of our sister publications, Dance Spirit and Pointe, sat down to discuss our own reactions.
James Whiteside sometimes seems larger than life. He knows how to effortlessly command any room he's in, whether he's playing a noble prince onstage or appearing in fashion campaigns for designers like Marc Jacobs and Thom Browne. During a rare day off, Whiteside gave us a glimpse into a quieter side of his personality—which is perhaps most endearing of all.
"Cindies" fans, this one's for you. February 9-10, American Ballet Theatre's James Whiteside and Isabella Boylston are collaborating with pop singer Rozzi to put on a full-length show titled When I Think Of You at The Argyros Performing Arts Center in Ketchum, Idaho. Set to Rozzi's debut album Bad Together, performed live by the singer and her band, the show features choreography by Whiteside, Boylston, ABT's Gemma Bond and commercial dancer Ai Shimatsu with dancing by Whiteside, Boylston and ABT soloist Calvin Royal III.
Whiteside is no stranger to pop music. The principal dancer doubles as singer/songwriter JbDubs, known for choreographing and producing his own wild music videos and performances. We touched base with Whiteside to hear all about how When I Think of You came to be, what this unique show will look like, and how he balances his musical career with his work at ABT.
What's been going on in the wonderful world of the Cindies (a.k.a. American Ballet Theatre principals James Whiteside and Isabella Boylston)? Just a casual visit at the ABT studios from actress Jennifer Garner, of course.
Judging from both Boylston's and Whiteside's Instagram accounts, Garner dropped by ABT's company class this week while in New York City promoting her new movie, Peppermint. And this means two major things: Garner has officially earned her Cindy title—at least according to Boylston's Instagram caption, which is about as official as it gets. And, perhaps even more importantly, this picture of the Cindies together means we can finally stop photoshopping Garnerhotoshopping Garner onto photos of the dancers (you're welcome).
While we hope there's more Cindy content on the way, we needed to take a minute to give Garner's tendu the recognition it deserves.
We'll admit it: As excited as we are for fall performance season to start, we are in deep, deep denial that the end of summer is in sight. And we're also experiencing some serious FOMO looking at the vacation photos flooding our Instagram feeds from some of our favorite dancers and choreographers. So where in the world do they go to unwind before gifting us with yet another season of incredible dance?
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At a time when the political climate is increasingly divisive, it's no wonder people want to compartmentalize. Some want their pirouettes separate from their politics, and can be quick to protest when dancers challenge that both on and off the stage.
Most recently, American Ballet Theatre principal Isabella Boylston was scrutinized when she shared this post on her Instagram.
Big Hollywood movies featuring dance are few and far between, so curiosity about the thriller Red Sparrow, opening Friday and starring Jennifer Lawrence as a Russian ballerina-turned-spy, is understandably at a high pitch. The production, which also stars Jeremy Irons, includes not one but four familiar dance names: Sergei Polunin, the enfant terrible of the ballet world, plays Lawrence's ballet partner; Justin Peck choreographed all the dance sequences; Kurt Froman, former New York City Ballet dancer, trained Lawrence; and American Ballet Theatre's Isabella Boylston performs as Lawrence's dance double.
How'd you get involved in Red Sparrow?
Justin Peck, who choreographed the movie, reached out to me. I've never done anything like that. And any chance to work with Justin...
While undoubtedly best known for her dancing, American Ballet Theatre principal Isabella Boylston has also been getting noticed for her style by Allure and Vogue—and with good reason. Her Instagram feed features a mix of on-trend athleisure wear and detailed dresses from runway designers like Valentino and Anna Sui, none of which would be complete without the makeup and hair to match. With a penchant for skin care and an ever-growing lipstick collection, Boylston talked us through some of her beauty must-haves on and off the stage.
Photo by Jayme Thornton
American Ballet Theatre is officially on the road. Since kicking their national tour off at Washington D.C.'s John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts this past week, ABT has been keeping us up-to-date: From how many pointe shoes they need to pack (spoiler alert, it's a lot), to rehearsal silliness and even an onstage moment or two. W
e rounded up our favorite moments so far—including a Facebook Live where Isabella Boylston and James Whiteside finally explain the meaning behind their nickname, The Cindys. Next stop, Detroit!
Principals Isabella Boylston and James Whiteside and corps member Lauren Post make travel sweats look chic.
Oh, Hollywood. In any given year, Tinseltown's use of dance in film veers from the woefully disappointing to the surprisingly delightful, but one thing's for certain: It's rarely boring. Here's our not-at-all-comprehensive and completely-subject-to-change list of the new dance-related movies coming soon to a theater (or laptop screen) near you.
It is a great tragedy for dance history that iconic ballet partnerships like Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev or Natalia Makarova and Mikhail Baryshnikov weren't able to document their backstage shenanigans on social media. (Okay, maybe not a great tragedy, but you have to admit that you're curious.)
Lucky for us, that isn't the case with today's star dancers—like American Ballet Theatre principal dancers Isabella Boylston and James Whiteside, aka The Cindies. These two aren't just onstage partners. They're serious #BestieGoals. Our evidence, as documented on Instagram, is as follows:
As Nutcracker season winds down (and our energy with it), we're turning to the best of the best to give us a boost. Whether you've resolved to improve your strength, flexibility, balance or a combo of all three in the new year, these pros' cross-training routines are all the motivation you need to put in the work.
Ahead, check out some of the most mind-blowing moves to pump you up for your best year yet.
Svetlana Lunkina, National Ballet of Canada
You know you've got something going for you when stars from New York City Ballet and American Ballet Theatre—plus our favorite celebrity dance fan, Jennifer Garner—are all fangirling about you on Instagram.
The man of the hour is Nick Palmquist, a choreographer and teacher who can often be found dishing out irresistibly sultry commercial jazz combos at New York City's Steps on Broadway. (You may have also heard of his boyfriend, ABT star Marcelo Gomes.)
When conveying a story onstage, certain roles come more easily than others. Some dancers naturally possess the regality of the Lilac Fairy, others the attack of Kitri. Some take on the naïve Aurora with ease, but have trouble with Myrtha's complexity. Tackling a role that's outside your character wheelhouse can be tricky—especially since ballet's princesses, creatures and sylphs can be hard to relate to.
But luckily, just like your technique, you can strengthen your acting chops. American Ballet Theatre's go-to acting coach Byam Stevens, who's worked with everyone from Kevin McKenzie to Isabella Boylston, shares how he helps dancers connect with a character.
Between her work as a principal with American Ballet Theatre and her ever-increasing number of side projects in the fashion world, Isabella Boylston's schedule is pretty packed. But she is showing no signs of slowing down, currently working on her biggest project yet as the artistic director of Ballet Sun Valley. Running this week in her hometown of Sun Valley, Idaho, the inaugural festival includes two nights of performances from some of ballet's best (Boylston and pals James Whiteside and Tiler Peck are among the dancers participating). Plus, an education day consisting of free dance and choreography classes taught by some of the stars from the program.
Given that more dancers seem to be trying their hand at directing and curating festivals, we spoke with Boylston about some of the challenges of putting Ballet Sun Valley together, and why it means so much to her.
Gemma Bond's intelligence—and knack for detail—never fails to shine through her dancing. It makes sense, then, that the American Ballet Theatre corps members is also a budding choreographer. After making works for ABT's Innovation Initiative and New York Theatre Ballet, as well as for her own pickup ensemble, her name is beginning to pop up with increasing frequency in ballet circles. She just made her first work for Atlanta Ballet, and was invited to take part in a festival at New York City's Joyce Theater. Next season she will create a work for The Washington Ballet. Her latest piece will be unveiled during a festival organized by fellow ABT dancer Isabella Boylston in Sun Valley, Idaho, August 22–24.
How did you get the Ballet Sun Valley commission?
Isabella has put together a wonderful program for the festival and wanted to do one new work. She has always come to see everything I've done; she's hugely supportive. She just said, "I want you to do this."
What is the idea behind the ballet?
There is this solar eclipse happening in Sun Valley on August 21, and we decided to use that as inspiration. There are two groups of dancers; Marcelo Gomes is the leader of one group and Isabella is the leader of the other. I call them the sun and moon. Judd Greenstein wrote the score. It's really about gravity and the tension and suspense that happens when everyone is there waiting for the eclipse to happen. It seems to take forever and then it happens and it's gone.
To be honest, we never tire of watching non-dancers tackle a day in the life of the pros. From athletes to average Joes, these videos always give us a good laugh, and they remind the rest of the world that a whole lot of work goes into every dance performance you see. But often times, these dancer-for-a-day videos don't fully understand the importance of training (i.e., you can't just throw on a pair of pointe shoes and give it a go).
That's why we're especially loving this video by Refinery29 that actually gets it. Lucie Fink, host of the R29 YouTube series Lucie For Hire , got a private lesson from American Ballet Theatre principal Isabella Boylston, and it was endlessly entertaining.
Sergei Polunin has a penchant for unexpectedly bursting into the news. Since DANCER, a feature-length documentary that proved to be a sympathetic portrait of ballet's favorite bad boy, he's been increasingly visible, popping up everywhere from "So You Think You Can Dance?" to Sadler's Wells. So what's the international star got next on his dance card?
Teaching a Master Class
Some very lucky ballet students will be taking class with Polunin at Danceworks London on July 18. (It's currently sold out, but interested students can add their names to a wait list.) It was announced this spring that Polunin would team up with the studio for a scholarship to its summer dance program, the Sergei Polunin Inspiration Scholarship, which has since been awarded to two young dancers.
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.