News
Sergei Polunin and Misty Copeland lead a corps of 18 dancers in choreography by Liam Scarlett. Photo courtesy Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

The wait for Disney's reimagining of The Nutcracker is over. Although The Nutcracker and The Four Realms is not a full-length ballet, woven into the plot is a five-minute performance by megastars Misty Copeland and Sergei Polunin alongside 18 supporting dancers, with a CGI Mouse King moved by jookin sensation Lil Buck (aka Charles Riley). Royal Ballet artist in residence Liam Scarlett led the film's choreography in his first major motion picture experience. "It was a call I didn't expect to get," says Scarlett. "I really am the biggest Disney fan, so I couldn't believe it!"

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Just for Fun
Sergei Polunin and Misty Copeland lead a corps of 18 dancers in choreography by Liam Scarlett. Photo courtesy Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

The wait for Disney's reimagining of The Nutcracker is over. Although The Nutcracker and The Four Realms is not a full-length ballet, woven into the plot is a five-minute performance by megastars Misty Copeland and Sergei Polunin alongside 18 supporting dancers, with a CGI Mouse King moved by jookin sensation Lil Buck (aka Charles Riley). Royal Ballet artist in residence Liam Scarlett led the film's choreography in his first major motion picture experience. "It was a call I didn't expect to get," says Scarlett. "I really am the biggest Disney fan, so I couldn't believe it!"

Keep reading... Show less
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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Dance in Pop Culture
Misty Copeland on the set of The Nutcracker and The Four Realms. Photo courtesy Disney

Back in January, we took a look at Hollywood's 2018 dance card. While Red Sparrow and the Tiler Peck documentary Ballet Now have been released, several other films that piqued our curiosity are still in various stages of development. (And some have been radio silent, like the Carmen being helmed by Benjamin Millepied.) From Misty Copeland to Carlos Acosta, new trailers to first looks, here's the latest on the dancing we might just see on the big screen later this year.

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Just for Fun
Misty Copeland as the Ballerina Princess in The Nutcracker and the Four Realms. Photo Courtesy Disney.

It's August—the sun is shining, summer intensives are winding down, and Nutcracker seems very far away. But this new trailer for Disney's The Nutcracker and the Four Realms is already getting us in the holiday mood. While this modern take on classic holiday story, in theaters November 2, is not a dance film, it does include mega-stars Misty Copeland and Sergei Polunin as the Ballerina Princess and Nutcracker Prince.

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News
Choreographer Liam Scarlett is digging into Siegfried's character for his new Swan Lake. Photo by Andrej Uspenski, Courtesy ROH

A new production of Swan Lake is no small undertaking—especially at The Royal Ballet, where the last one, staged by Sir Anthony Dowell, lasted 30 years. When it came to replacing it, director Kevin O'Hare opted for a British choreographer who grew up with Dowell's version: Liam Scarlett, a former first artist with and current artist in residence at The Royal Ballet, took up the challenge in tandem with designer John Macfarlane.

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Dance in Pop Culture
Oleg Ivenko and Ralph Fiennes on the set of The White Crow, an upcoming feature film dramatizing Rudolf Nureyev's defection. Photo via variety.com

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.

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Dancers Trending
Erik Tomasson, courtesy San Francisco Ballet

Waking up in the morning after a late performance and walking to class isn't always easy. But once I'm in the studio and the pianist begins, a familiar rhythm ensues.

I love the physicality of this routine. It is like solving a puzzle every day, translating the imagery in my mind into my body. Ballet technique is an art in itself: the art of engaging some muscles and relaxing others, balancing hips over toes, and shaping fingers and feet.

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Dancers Trending

When we heard rumors earlier this summer that World Ballet Day LIVE might get cancelled this year, we thought our hearts might break.

But we needn't have worried! The happy news came out yesterday that our favorite day of the year is back: World Ballet Day LIVE 2017 is officially scheduled for October 5. Clear your calendar for a serious bunhead binge of live behind-the-scenes footage from the Australian Ballet, Bolshoi Ballet, Royal Ballet, National Ballet of Canada and San Francisco Ballet—plus special video broadcasts from other top companies.

The news got the Dance Magazine staff all nostalgic. We started reminiscing about our favorite highlights from past World Ballet Day LIVE events. Our top picks?

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Inside the latest American Ballet Theatre premiere

Liam Scarlett uses Hee Seo to demonstrate a lift. Photo by Kyle Froman.

Liam Scarlett defies all the clichés about “genius at work” and “artistic temperament.” Constructing an intimate pas de deux for American Ballet Theatre’s Hee Seo and Marcelo Gomes last fall, he conceived quietly attentive lifts and intricate steps with the cool deliberation of a mason laying bricks. The dancers, joined by the second cast’s Isabella Boylston and Cory Stearns, repeated each phrase with calm, meticulous efficiency, then waited for the next.

Marcelo Gomes and Hee Seo work through a phrase.

At age 28, Scarlett is already The Royal Ballet’s first artist in residence and a choreographer in international demand. In addition to his ABT premiere, during the 2014–15 season Scarlett created a pas de deux for New York City Ballet and a narrative one-act for The Royal, and is now working on a three-act Carmen for Norwegian National Ballet before heading to the Royal New Zealand Ballet to choreograph A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

With a Chance of Rain, Scarlett’s first work for ABT, bristled with his characteristic use of soaring Soviet-style overhead lifts and sensational partnered descents unexpected from someone who looks as innocent as a dewy, curly-headed choir boy. He set the dance for four couples to six preludes and an elegy by Sergei Rachmaninoff, whose virtuosic demands have delighted audiences and terrified performers for over a century. Company pianist Emily Wong met these challenges repeatedly.

Cory Stearns and Isabella Boylston hone the dynamics.

Occasionally, some of Scarlett’s instruction threatened to become impenetrably British: “Make this look more dextrous,” he told Gomes about a gesture. Fortunately, he demonstrated the move he meant and the intensity he wanted. Gomes, in practice clothes of clashing colors as boldly designed as a costume, matched the choreographer’s shapes. He and the other dancers worked through each phrase, again and again, as Scarlett repeated and refined every step.

What makes choreography compelling? Whether you consider a work’s musicality or steps, formations or narrative, it often comes down to one thing: the element of surprise. Justin Peck is a master of this. He’ll bring two partners together for what seems like the beginning of a sumptuous lift—and then have them take off in opposite directions. Or he’ll ask the corps to hit an elegant classical position—while lying on the floor. This ability to counter expectations has skyrocketed Peck from a dancer dabbling in dancemaking to a national force in choreography in just two short years. Now New York City Ballet’s official resident choreographer, Peck will be creating or setting work on five major companies this season, and a documentary about his creative process, Ballet 422, is about to be released nationwide. The ballet world has been waiting anxiously for the next Christopher Wheeldon, the next Alexei Ratmansky. I think we’ve found him.

 

Right: “With Justin, it wasn’t difficult to see the raw gifts that he possessed right away.”—NYCB ballet master in chief Peter Martins on his company’s new resident choreographer. Photo by Jayme Thornton.

 

Peck’s not the only reason to be excited about the fall performance season. As budgets seem to have (mostly) recovered from the recession, it feels like the pent-up artistic energy finally has the resources to be let out. We’ve got the scoop on the 10 most intriguing premieres and tours going on around the country. These are the productions that everyone will be talking about. And yes, one of our picks is NYCB’s fall season, which boasts world premieres by Ratmansky, Liam Scarlett—and Justin Peck.

In this issue we also offer a peek inside the life of a Broadway dancer while she is between gigs. Leah Hofmann is scheduled to start rehearsals of Susan Stroman’s The Merry Widow soon, but she let us follow her around for a day while she juggled side gigs, an audition, jazz class and a meeting with her agent, and she shared insight into how she makes it all work. She’s learned all too well the unpredictability of this career: Shows get cancelled, roles get assigned at last minute, choreographers ask for skills you didn’t know you had. She stays prepared for whatever opportunities might come her way. Because life isn’t all that different from dance: The surprises are often the best parts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jennifer Stahl

Editor in Chief

jstahl@dancemedia.com

Photo by Erik Tomasson.Courtessy San Francisco Ballet.

British choreographer Liam Scarlett talks about how he approaches the pas de deux, with footage of The Promise, performed by the Royal Ballet's Laura Morera and Bennet Gartside.

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