The pleasure of watching prodigies perform technical feats on Instagram can be tinged with a sense of trepidation. Impressive tricks, you think, but do they have what it takes for an actual career?
Just look at 18-year-old Maria Khoreva, who has more followers than most seasoned principals; in videos, her lines and attention to detail suggested a precocious talent, and led to a Nike ambassador contract before she even graduated from the Vaganova Ballet Academy. Still, when she joined the Mariinsky Ballet last summer, there was no guarantee any of it would translate to stage prowess.
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.
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.
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:
By now, you're probably as obsessed with the artists on our 2018 "25 to Watch" list as we are. But how do we decide who makes it? One answer is: carefully. Another: It's a long, long process.
Not many students get the opportunity to perform a variation onstage with the Mariinsky Ballet. But in April 2016, when May Nagahisa was just 15 and training at Monaco's Princess Grace Academy, the Japanese prodigy was invited to perform the Manu dance in La Bayadère with the venerable Russian company—an unprecedented honor for a non-Vaganova student.
A kindhearted British bloke with feet that ballerinas would envy, Xander Parish isn't a self-promoting celebrity or a social media whiz. He is more like your next-door neighbor, but with one caveat: He has loads of talent. His elastic muscles boast an endless plié that creates soundless jumps and textbook-perfect lines. Combine that with strong partnering skills and polished dramatic delivery, and Parish's slow rise to fame as a Mariinsky Ballet principal has at long last earned him well-deserved recognition.
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For years, Diana Vishneva seemed to be an exotic creature who landed in New York City: If we held our collective breath long enough, perhaps she wouldn't fly away. But last June, this Russian ballerina did just that after delivering her farewell performance of Onegin with American Ballet Theatre, where she had been a principal since 2005. Her wild passion, her musicality and her ability to hold nothing back made her classical dancing all the more thrilling.
Vishneva got her start at the Vaganova Ballet Academy in St. Petersburg. Seven years later she won the Prix de Lausanne, and in 1995, she joined the Mariinsky Ballet, with whom she gave her first major performances in New York City. In 2001, she began her guest artist career, performing with La Scala Ballet, the Paris Opéra Ballet, Staatsballett Berlin and others over the years.
The Mariinsky in Nijinsky’s Le Sacre du Printemps. Photo by Natasha Razina, Courtesy Mariinsky.
One Hundred Years Later
May 29 marks the centennial of Nijinsky’s Le Sacre du Printemps. Dance artists pay tribute to the original provocateur around the world (probably without the riots, but one never knows):
Akram Khan Company in the premiere of Khan’s iTMOi in London
Richmond Ballet in Salvatore Aiello’s 1993 version in Norfolk, VA
Shen Wei Dance Arts in Wei’s The Rite of Spring in Houston, TX
Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch in Bausch’s Frühlingsopfer in Gothenburg, Sweden
Tero Saarinen’s HUNT, a veritable light show, in Dublin
The Mariinsky Ballet will perform a commissioned Rite of Spring by Sasha Waltz in St. Petersburg. Both a reconstruction of Nijinsky’s original and the Sasha Waltz version will be danced in Salzburg, and, on the 29th and in two subsequent performances, at the original scene of the crime: the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in Paris.
The choreographic offerings of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago’s two-week season at NYC’s Joyce Theater are plentiful: Ohad Naharin, Mats Ek, Aszure Barton, and Sharon Eyal are represented, along with works by former HSDC dancer Robyn Mineko Williams and resident choreographer Alejandro Cerrudo. But two company performances happening this month in Chicago are no less intriguing: a Picasso-inspired site-specific day at the Art Institute of Chicago on May 9, and a big gala on May 30, honoring the country’s most vocal dance supporter/mayor, Rahm Emanuel. www.hubbardstreetdance.com.
Penny Saunders and Pablo Piantino in Ohad Naharin’s THREE TO MAX. Photo by Todd Rosenberg, Courtesy HSDC.
An American Tale
It’s a simple but elegant solution to the notion that ballet is inaccessible: Draw from the American literary canon to pull in audiences. After mounting The Great Gatsby in 2010, with live jazz musicians and singers that captured the Roaring ’20s, Septime Webre, director of The Washington Ballet, premieres the second work in his American Experience series, Hemingway: The Sun Also Rises, based on the classic novel. With a setting that ranges from Paris’ Left Bank to Pamplona for a bit of running with the bulls, it’s an ambitious undertaking. For future productions, the company is looking to adapt works by Henry James, Tennessee Williams, and Langston Hughes—and commission other choreographers. May 8–12 at the Kennedy Center’s Eisenhower Theater. www.washingtonballet.org.
Jared Nelson in Hemingway: The Sun Also Rises. Photo by Brianne Bland, Courtesy TWB.
Sounds of Celebration
May 25 is National Tap Dance Day, which falls on Bill “Bojangles” Robinson’s birthday, and the party lasts all month long. Events like Dance Inn Production’s National Tap Dance Day weekend in Massachusetts and Spring to Dance (see below right), where Michelle Dorrance will debut a new piece, provide fun for all. The festivities also go international, from the Norman Rothstein Theatre in Vancouver to a hoofers’ gala at the Moscow International House of Music.
Michelle Dorrance. Photo by Matthew Murphy and Kenn Tam, Courtesy Dorrance Dance.
Spoleto Festival USA welcomes an international crop of dance talent to Charleston, SC, this month. Compagnie Käfig energetically blends samba, hip-hop, and capoeira in Correria and Agwa, while Kuchipudi diva Shantala Shivalingappa and Ballet Flamenco de Andalucía tell stories in their own dialects. American artists who bring humor to their work are also in the lineup: Lucky Plush Productions from Chicago and Jared Grimes, who makes his festival debut in a commissioned evening-length work. May 24–June 9. www.spoletousa.org.
Compagnie Käfig in Agwa at Jacob’s Pillow. Photo by Christopher Duggan, Courtesy Pillow.
If the Pointe Shoe Fits
Christopher Wheeldon’s imaginative new version of Cinderella, a co-production between San Francisco Ballet and Dutch National Ballet, has its U.S. premiere this month with performances in San Francisco from May 3–12. The choreographer’s version is more adult than Disney—he drew inspiration from the dark undertones of Prokofiev’s score. Wheeldon brings the production into the 21st century with spectacular special effects and puppetry by Basil Twist. www.sfballet.org.
Luke Willis, Sasha De Sola, and Sean Bennett rehearse Wheeldon’s Cinderella. Photo © Erik Tomasson, Courtesy SFB.
Over Memorial Day Weekend, more than 30 groups will descend on the Touhill Performing Arts Center in St. Louis for the Emerson Spring to Dance Festival. Representing the Midwest are companies like Grand Rapids Ballet and Kansas City Ballet, with some friends from the coasts including ODC/Dance and Camille A. Brown. The festival will be a homecoming of sorts for St. Louis native Antonio Douthit, one of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s most riveting dancers, who will perform Ailey’s Pas de Duke with the luminous Alicia Mack Graf. And at just $15 each, tickets are a steal. www.dancestlouis.org.
Antonio Douthit of Ailey in Robert Battle’s Strange Humors. Photo by Paul Kolnik, Courtesy Ailey.
Contributors: Suzannah Friscia, Kina Poon