Dance History

#tbt: Galina Ulanova on Approaching Ballet With Childlike Wonder

Galina Ulanova sewing pointe shoes. Photo courtesy DM Archives

In the November 1954 issue of Dance Magazine, we shared excerpts from an autobiographical essay written by Galina Ulanova. Reflecting on her memories of performing small roles as a self-professedly reluctant ballet student, she wrote, "Belief comes so easily in childhood. And what a pity it is that this belief in what is happening on the stage...is so difficult to preserve afterwards, and that one has to work so hard, sometimes so painfully, before one can 'get into the skin' of a role and believe in it so utterly that the audience will believe in it too. Yes, in part my 'performances' of those days were the playing of a child who believes in its imagination more than it does reality." Arguably the first great ballerina of Soviet Russia, she danced with both the Kirov and the Bolshoi, touring with the latter across Europe and to the U.S. to great popular acclaim.

Health & Body
Getty Images

Nadine Kaslow, a psychologist who works with dancers at Atlanta Ballet, offers tips for creating a more body-positive studio experience:

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Sponsored by NYCDA
Ailey II artistic director Troy Powell teaching an Ailey Workshop at NYCDA. Courtesy NYCDA

Back in 2011 when Joe Lanteri first approached Katie Langan, chair of Marymount Manhattan College's dance department, about getting involved with New York City Dance Alliance, she was skeptical about the convention/competition world.

"But I was pleasantly surprised by the enormity of talent that was there," she says. "His goal was to start scholarship opportunities, and I said okay, I'm in."

Today, it's fair to say that Lanteri has far surpassed his goal of creating scholarship opportunities. But NYCDA has done so much more, bridging the gap between the convention world and the professional world by forging a wealth of partnerships with dance institutions from Marymount to The Ailey School to Complexions Contemporary Ballet and many more. There's a reason these companies and schools—some of whom otherwise may not see themselves as aligned with the convention/competition world—keep deepening their relationships with NYCDA.

Now, college scholarships are just one of many ways NYCDA has gone beyond the typical weekend-long convention experience and created life-changing opportunities for students. We rounded up some of the most notable ones:

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Broadway

We knew that Ivo van Hove and Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker's production of West Side Story would challenge our preconceived notions about the show.

But a recent Vogue story gives us a taste of just how nontraditional the Broadway revival will be. Most notably, van Hove is cutting "I Feel Pretty" and the "Somewhere" ballet, condensing the show into one act to better reflect the urgency of the 48-hour plot. (The choice has been approved by the West Side Story estate, including Sondheim, who has "long been uncomfortable" with some of the "I Feel Pretty" lyrics.)

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Sponsored by Harlequin Floors
Left: Hurricane Harvey damage in Houston Ballet's Dance Lab; Courtesy Harlequin. Right: The Dance Lab pre-Harvey; Nic Lehoux, Courtesy Houston Ballet.

"The show must go on" may be a platitude we use to get through everything from costume malfunctions to stormy moods. But when it came to overcoming a literal hurricane, Houston Ballet was buoyed by this mantra to go from devastated to dancing in a matter of weeks—with the help of Harlequin Floors, Houston Ballet's longstanding partner who sprang into action to build new floors in record time.

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