- The Latest
- Breaking Stereotypes
- Rant & Rave
- Dance As Activism
- Dancers Trending
- Viral Videos
- The Dancer's Toolkit
- Health & Body
- Dance Training
- Career Advice
- Style & Beauty
- Dance Auditions
- Guides & Resources
- Performance Calendar
- College Guide
- Dance Magazine Awards
- Meet The Editors
- Contact Us
- Advertise/Media Kit
- Buy A Single Issue
- Give A Gift Subscription
What It's Like to Dance Your Final Season After 14 Years in the Corps
Even before I began my 14th season with Boston Ballet last fall, I knew I wanted it to be my last. I had taken the summer layoff to analyze my career, weighing my casting heartaches with my performance successes. I noticed that as I watched my colleagues dance, I felt more inclined to spend time encouraging their artistic success than fighting for my own. Plus, the timing would be cinematically perfect: The Sleeping Beauty was the very first ballet I performed as a child in 1991, and it will be the last full-length of Boston Ballet's season in May 2017.
Photo courtesy Boston Ballet
I kept this decision a secret until my director called me in last September to inform me that he also thought this would be a good time to retire. I left his office unsure of whether I had finally communicated my feelings or just received notice that my career should end. Still, more relieved than sad, I now had the date of my final performance.
At age 34, I am what you may call a corps de ballet lifer, a prima corps de ballerina. Though I was never promoted, there has not been one day where I did not learn something new about my craft. I read a quote from Martha Graham that everyone loves to use in depressing discussions of ballet retirements: "A dancer, more than any other human being, dies two deaths." Though retiring is scary, I know in my heart it is not a death.
Wroth in Kylian's "Bella Figura." Photo by Gene Schiavone.
Whenever the rumor mill spins about a retirement, there is always a terrible awkwardness. So to make the most of my final season, I chose to email the entire company. I felt like being open would help everyone to stop "fearing the death" so much.
The formal announcement of my retirement only inspired me more. I began to openly acknowledge my plan to someday become an artistic director, and I set eagerly to work preparing a resumé and looking for available positions. I kept throwing my name and contact information out there into the ballet world, desperately hoping for an offer.
I also continued building my arsenal of artistic-leadership knowledge. It's amazing the sense of empowerment that comes from knowing the end of the chapter is near: After years of teaching optional open class to Boston Ballet dancers, I finally got up the nerve to ask to teach our official company class. I was granted three classes of my own in the fall. After the first one, my peers applauded this step towards the other side of the studio.
Wroth doing barre during her pregnancy (with her dog Butters). Photo by Igor Burlak.
There are days when the end of this season feels like an exciting unknown. Then there are days when I am so nervous that I can barely breathe. While I'm doing pliés, instead of hearing the music, I hear a terrifying voice inside me shout "You don't have a plan for next year!" My dilemma is better than most ballet retirees. Having both graduated college and obtained my master's degree, I'm not so nervous about finding "a job" as I am about finding "the right job." I have always been passionate about my vocation. I'm spoiled by it, and I really know no other way to live.
Throughout all this, performing has been my therapy. It is one of the only times my mind is free. I will relish every performance this year while preparing myself as much as possible for my next stage.
My advice to all professionals is to dance every year of your career as though it were your last. Because inevitably, when it actually is your last year, your enjoyment becomes all the more important and yet so much harder to focus on.
Rebecca Warthen was on a year-long assignment with the Peace Corps in Dominica last fall when a storm started brewing. A former dancer with North Carolina Dance Theatre (now Charlotte Ballet) and Columbia City Ballet, she'd been sent to the Caribbean island nation to teach ballet at the Dominica Institute of the Arts and in outreach classes at public schools.
But nine and a half months into her assignment, a tropical storm grew into what would become Hurricane Maria—the worst national disaster in Dominica's history.
On the occasion of its 70th anniversary, the Ballet Nacional de Cuba tours the U.S. this spring with the resolute Cuban prima ballerina assoluta Alicia Alonso a the helm. Named a National Hero of Labor in Cuba, Alonso, 97, has weathered strained international relations and devastating fiscal challenges to have BNC emerge as a world-class dance company. Her dancers are some of ballet's best. On offer this time are Alonso's Giselle and Don Quixote. The profoundly Cuban company performs in Chicago May 18–20, Tampa May 23, Washington, D.C., May 29–June 3 and Saratoga, New York June 6–8.
Ever wonder why some dancers' port de bras appears to be disconnected from their body? It typically comes down to how they stabilize their shoulder blades, says Marimba Gold-Watts, Pilates instructor to dancers like Robert Fairchild.
"Dancers often hear the cue to pull down on their latissimus,"—the biggest muscle in the back—"which doesn't allow the shoulder blades to lie flat," she says. "It makes the bottom tips of the shoulder blades wing, or flare out, off the rib cage."
Sidra Bell is one of those choreographers whose movement dancers are drawn to. Exploring the juxtaposition of fierce athleticism and pure honesty in something as simple as stillness, her work brings her dancers to the depths of their abilities and the audience to the edge of their seats.
A few weeks ago, American Ballet Theatre announced the A.B.T. Women's Movement, a new program that will support three women choreographers per season, one of whom will make work on the main company.
"The ABT Women's Movement takes inspiration from the groundbreaking female choreographers who have left a lasting impact on ABT's legacy, including Agnes de Mille and Twyla Tharp," said artistic director Kevin McKenzie in a press release.
Hypothetically, this is a great idea. We're all for more ballet commissions for women. But the way ABT has promoted the initiative is problematic.
Some dancers move to New York City with their sights set on a dream job: that one choreographer or company they have to dance for. But when Maggie Cloud graduated from Florida State University in 2010, she envisioned herself on a less straightforward path.
"I always had in mind that I would be dancing for different people," she says. "I knew I had some kind of range that I wanted to tap into."
New York City Ballet is celebrating the Jerome Robbins Centennial with twenty (20!) ballets. The great American choreographer died in 1998, so very few of today's dancers have actually worked with him. There are plenty of stories about how demanding (at times brutally so) he could be in rehearsal. But Peter Boal has written about Robbins in a more balanced, loving way. In this post he writes about how Robbins' crystal clear imagery helped him approach a role with clarity and purpose.
Who says you need fancy equipment to make a festival-worthy dance film? Right now, two New York City–based dance film festivals are calling for aspiring filmmakers to show their stuff—and you don't need anything more cumbersome than a smartphone to get in on the action.
Here's everything you need to know about how to submit:
When Lisset Santander bourréed onstage as Myrtha in BalletMet's Giselle this past February, her consummate portrayal of the Queen of the Wilis was marked by steely grace and litheness. The former Cuban National Ballet dancer had defected to the U.S. at 21, and after two years with the Ohio company, she's now closer to the dance career she says she always wanted: one of limitless possibilities.