It might seem like the majority of the American dance world moves to Vail or Jacob's Pillow for the month of August, but there's plenty to see elsewhere. From Royal Ballet dancers appearing in an intimate New York City theater to a new musical based on a Disney animated classic, here are the shows we plan to close out summer with.
Adam Sklute (seated far right) at a Ballet West audition. Photo by Jim Lafferty
Audition classes may not differ much from any other class—but directors have ways of sussing out who has what they're looking for. We spoke to three artistic directors to get their perspective from the front of the room.
Ellie Cotey at work in The Joffrey Ballet's costume shop. Photo by Temur Suluashvili, Courtesy Joffrey.
Building a full-length ballet from scratch is an intense process. For the world premiere of Anna Karenina, a collaboration between The Joffrey Ballet and The Australian Ballet, that meant original choreography by Yuri Possokhov, a brand-new score by Ilya Demutsky, costume and set designs by Tom Pye and lighting designs by David Finn.
The Joffrey Ballet's Victoria Jaiani and Alberto Velazquez in Anna Karenina. Photo by Cheryl Mann, Courtesy The Joffrey Ballet
Unexpected collaborations, celebrations of culture, literary classics that take a turn for the tragic—it might be freezing outside, but the new season is just heating up. Here are six shows we'd happily brave the winter weather for this month.
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.
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.
Dimensions Dane Theatre of Miami performs Gerald Arpino's Light Rain as part of the Joffrey/Arpino Celebration. Photo by Simon Soong, Courtesy The Gerald Arpino Foundation
This year has been a time to commemorate Robert Joffrey and Gerald Arpino's huge contributions to American dance, as 2018 marks the 30th and 10th anniversaries of their deaths, respectively. On June 10, The Joffrey Ballet brought Arpino's neo-romantic Round of Angels (1983) to the USA International Ballet Competition in Jackson, MS, where Joffrey chaired the jury for years. A Joffrey master class and lecture took place on June 18. Dimensions Dance Theatre of Miami, the young company founded by former Miami City Ballet stars Jennifer Kronenberg and Carlos Guerra, brings Arpino's boldly sensual Light Rain to The Joyce Theater June 26–27. arpinofoundation.org.
Omar Román De Jesús in rehearsal with Joffrey Academy trainees. Photo by Todd Rosenberg
So far, the fervor to create diversity in ballet has primarily focused on dancers. Less attention has been paid to the work that they'll encounter once they arrive.
Yet the cultivation of ballet choreographers of color (specifically black choreographers) through traditional pathways of choreographic training grounds remains virtually impossible. No matter how you slice it, we end up at the basic issues that plague the pipeline to the stage: access and privilege.
Those of us who love Twyla Tharp's early works were jazzed to hear that she will expand As Time Goes By (1973) for The Royal Ballet this fall.
ATGB, original cast with Richard Colton (left), Pamela Nearhoof (right), photo courtesy DM Archives
This was a beautiful, dreamy, swirly ballet that was her first totally classical piece. Her Deuce Coupe a few months earlier was a hit that mingled the Joffrey dancers with her own dancers, performed to songs by the Beach Boys. It integrated modern and ballet, streetwise and classical, and took New York City by storm. Naturally Robert Joffrey asked her to make a second ballet ASAP.