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On a summer stage in 1845, nearly 170 years ago to the day, four superstar ballerinas put aside their bitter rivalries and graced a single stage. Lucile Grahn, Carlotta Grisi, Fanny Cerrito and Marie Taglioni—defining figures in ballet’s history—performed in Jules Perrot’s Pas de Quatre. Such collaboration between divas of the day was unprecedented, and Perrot choreographed the piece to showcase each prima’s particular talents.

 

Russian ballerina Olga Pavlova—best known here in the U.S. for her time with Morphoses/The Wheeldon Company and Metropolitan Classical Ballet in Arlington, Texas—had a rich international career. But her training years didn’t go quite according to plan. In Karen McDonough’s new biography, A Ballerina for Our Time: Olga Pavlova, McDonough reveals how Pavlova struggled to overcome body issues, jealousy and sabotage while a student at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy.

High school students and ballet dancers Adam Bernstein and Daniela O’Neil have been named 2015 Presidential Scholars in the Arts—one of the highest honors available to high school students. The third Presidential Scholar in dance is Anagha Prasanna, a classical Indian dancer.

It's no secret that dancers can be perfectionists, and when you're working through the nuances of a demanding new role or juggling an above-average busy schedule, that type of self-discipline and attention to detail has its benefits. 

With a sparkling princess-pink tutu and equally sparkling technique, Élisabeth Platel floats through Aurora’s first act variation in this 1989 clip of Sleeping Beauty. Rudolf Nureyev chose Platel, a celebrated étoile of the Paris Opéra Ballet, for his restaging of Petipa’s quintessential classic. The role of Aurora is one of classical ballet’s most challenging. In the first act variation, the ballerina must evoke the naiveté of adolescence and the royalty befitting a princess.

 

There's a warm and fuzzy feeling when dancers you've been following for years finally make it to the top. Of course, just making it into a company is a remarkable accomplishment and something to be proud of. But if there's one thing successful dancers have in common, it's that they never settle. And the corps is great until you're ready to be a soloist...and so on.

Like an actor’s monologue, a ballerina’s solo must achieve the difficult balance between drama and ostentation, controlled technique and theatrical abandon. In the ballet rendition of Rossini’s play, Guillaume Tell, Alessandra Ferri dances the character of Mathilde, an Austrian damsel whose love for a Swiss man is reminiscent of the forbidden love in Romeo and Juliet.