There are "firsts" for everything in ballet—from positions of the feet to world premieres of new choreography. But some dancers might not recognize the woman considered to be the first American prima ballerina (and in ballet, holding such a title is comparable to some sort of divinity). But Maria Tallchief, who danced with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo and was one of Balanchine's first principal dancers at New York City Ballet, takes this place in history.
As choreographers like Wayne McGregor push the aesthetic boundaries of ballet, even the most contemporary work still adheres to recognizable elements of the form. There are gradations—and yes, there’s the eventual hair-splitting difference between contemporary ballet and contemporary dance, when too many of those recognizable elements have been stripped away—but when a ballet company performs something “contemporary,” it’s likely that the piece will fit safely within a handful of stylistic guidelines.
Who tires faster, ballerinas or football players? A recent study published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine tested just that by measuring the lower-body endurance of ballet dancers and team sports athletes.
Ballet dancers never reveal the labor of their work. Whether onstage or in rehearsal, they hurdle through moments of exhaustion to preserve an effortless illusion. Even when a character calls for anger, sorrow or pain, a dancer can still move the audience with beauty. The Dying Swan, originally choreographed by Mikhail Fokine in 1905, breaks this quest for effortless beauty. It presents the ultimate challenge—how to appear weak, and at times, ugly.
This year marked the 50th anniversary of IBC Varna. Though the competition has grown steadily more sophisticated and intense over time, no competitors were awarded gold medals this year. Two silver medals were awarded to the senior women: Hannah O'Neill of the Paris Opera Ballet, and Ye Lim Choi of Korea. Two bronze medals were awarded to the senior women, as well: Sara Renda of Italy and Hee Sun Kim of Korea. Senior men fared the same—the highest award was silver.
Grab your goggles! In one European study, researchers followed athletes who switched from doing just one kind of exercise to triathlons—swimming, running and biking. After multi-area training, the athletes actually performed better in their original sport. This news comes as no surprise to ballet dancers, who know that cross-training can improve their leaps and bounds by, well, leaps and bounds. Swimming in particular has a few upsides that you might not have thought about.
David Hallberg is once again paying it forward. For the second year in a row, the School of Ballet Arizona, where the American Ballet Theatre and Bolshoi Ballet star trained for four years, is offering the David Hallberg Scholarship for Boys. Open to males ages 13 and up, the scholarship pays for tuition and supplies for the Phoenix–based school’s 2014/15 school year and is based on talent and/or financial need.
Act III of The Sleeping Beauty celebrates the resolution of Princess Aurora’s dramatic curse with her wedding to Prince Florimund, with a cast of fairytale characters in attendance. Two of the most notable are Bluebird and Princess Florine, who dance a call-and-response pas de deux to Tchaikovsky’s sprightly music.
Two weeks ago, we reported that Angel Corella was setting Don Quixote at the Hartt School’s “Studio to Stage” summer intensive in Hartford, Connecticut. Well, it now looks like he’s in the U.S. to stay! Last night, the Pennsylvania Ballet announced that Corella has been named its new artistic director, starting in September. Roy Kaiser, the company’s previous director, recently stepped down after 19 years, but will remain through the transition and assume the title of Artistic Director Emeritus.