Emily Katz's blog

After my internship at Pointe, I wanted to keep learning about the ballet world. So I recently began working as a shoe fitter at Chacott by Freed of London's store in Manhattan. Fitting shoes is a bit of a science. It requires anatomical knowledge of feet, an understanding of how they should be supported, and an appreciation of ballet's particular aesthetic.

You know a ballet meme is good when it makes you chuckle to yourself and think, "So true." The most recent meme to capture what it's really like to be a ballet dancer is Ballet Monsters, a series of cartoons created by artist Keith Lin that are now circling the internet.

What does it take to be a dancer with American Ballet Theatre? The company's dancers and staff tackled that question last night at the Guggenheim Museum's Works & Process program. “ABT dancers need to do it all,” said Kevin McKenzie in a video clip. “They need to have the ability to cross the borders of the stylistic demands of contemporary dance and ballet.”

Few ballerinas are as adventurous as New York City Ballet’s Wendy Whelan. “I like to be the paint and the brush,” she says, “but just not the person holding the brush.” At the Guggenheim’s Works & Process this weekend, Whelan discussed and performed excerpts of "Restless Creature," a suite of duets created collaboratively with contemporary dancer-choreographers Kyle Abraham, Joshua Beamish, Brian Brooks and Alejandro Cerrudo.

 

Nikiya’s forbidden love is taken to a whole different level in the Royal Danish Ballet’s new production of La Bayadère. At the Guggenheim’s Works and Process showing, artistic director Nikolaj Hubbe spoke about RDB’s restaging, and his dancers performed excerpts wearing costumes by Richard Hudson (who also designed costumes for The Lion King).

 

Alexei Ratmansky and American Ballet Theatre are a match made in ballet heaven. The artist in residence has a 10-year contract with ABT, and has choreographed abstract and narrative ballets for the company such as The Bright Stream, The Nutcracker and Firebird. At the Guggenheim’s Works & Process on Sunday, ballet mistress Nancy Raffa, and principal David Hallberg discussed what it's like to work with Ratmansky. Apparently, Ratmansky comes to the studio very prepared, with his 2x4 inch black book containing choreography to each count of the score.

What happens when you cross ballet with electronic music? Ballet fans found out last night, watching the innovative choreography by New York City Ballet’s Justin Peck to songs by Sufjan Stevens. At the Guggenheim’s Works & Process, the choreographer and composer, along with conductor Michael Atkinson, discussed their collaboration while NYCB dancers offered a preview of Year of the Rabbit.

 

Balanchine once said, “I don’t have to explain why I change things. I can do with my ballets whatever I like....I made them and I can change them if I want to.”

A company is only as strong as the sum of its parts—and at ABT, each member plays their part to the utmost. I had the opportunity to be a super in ABT’s Taipei productions of La Bayadere this weekend, playing one of the two girls who stand on stage left during the pas d’ action scene in Act I when Nikiya takes gets bitten by the snake.

 

The countdown to summer intensives has begun! And it’s time for a new set of nerves (and excitement) to kick in. How can you prepare your body and mind to get the most out of your summer training? Here are some tips from Shelly Power, associate director of Houston Ballet’s Ben Stevenson Academy, and Sabrina Lenzi, ballet mistress of Houston Ballet II.