This past year saw a bounty of ballet beauty. There were jaw-dropping premieres, some exciting new collaborations and a number of promising dancers who began to make their mark. As senior editor of Pointe, I got to witness much of it, and I have to say I had a blast. Here are my personal top 12 highlights of 2012.
1. Finding this video of the 2002 Vaganova Grand Prix, with baby-ballerina versions of Maria Kochetkova, Polina Semionova, Alina Somova and Evgenia Obraztsova, among others. They're so young, but Kochetkova was already so good, and Semionova already had that fantastic onstage confidence!
2. Getting to watch Paris Opéra Ballet rehearse Giselle. Even the coaches and artistic director Brigitte Lefèvre oozed that signature French elegance.
3. This quote from Ivan Vasiliev: "I would love to speak English. I try when I’m traveling, but I never learned it in school. And of course I’d love to be tall, blond and have blue eyes…and to have Wolverine claws!"
4. Natalia Osipova and David Hallberg in ABT's Romeo and Juliet. After the balcony scene, the audience went so wild, they wouldn't stop applauding until the two stars came out for an impromtu curtain call mid-show!
5. Christopher Wheeldon's Five Movements, Three Repeats at Fall for Dance. A week earlier, I'd seen the ballet's central pas de deux at NYCB's gala, and it came and went without making much of an impression. But then when it was shown in context, it moved me to tears, and taught me how much the frame influences your experience of a piece of art.
6. Sitting in on an audition for Armitage Gone! Dance. When I was dancing, auditions felt like battles to prove myself to a picky, critical director. But looking over Karole Armitage's shoulder, I was taken by how much she loved so many of the dancers who came out, and how for her, it was heartbreaking to only choose a handful.
7. Catherine Hurlin in Dance212. Talk about a baby ballerina. Not only did these episodes offer an exclusive look at a star-in-the-making (those legs! that presence!), Hurlin is hysterical, especially when she's imitating her JKO teachers.
8. Taking Ashley Tuttle's ballet class. My favorite correction she gives? "I'm not a painter. I don't write poetry. Ballet is it for me—this is how I express myself. Every movement is a chance to say something with your body. Why would you waste that?"
9. Alexei Ratmansky's Nutcracker. This production single-handedly rekindled my love for the classic Christmas ballet.
10. Discovering how caffeine can improve your dancing. (I'm a health nerd, so this blew my mind.)
11. Breaking Pointe. Yes, I wish there'd been more dancing and less forced melodrama. But I readily admit that I was 100 percent addicted to this show. It was such a great peek inside the inner workings of a major ballet company—and fantastic exposure for our artform.
12. This gorgeous shot of Misty Copeland.