American Ballet Theatre

Almost every professional dancer has paid her dues in the corps de ballet. It can be the most rigorous years of a dancer’s life, requiring strength and endurance to function as the backbone of the company. In this video of American Ballet Theatre’s Giselle, we experience one of the most difficult moments in a corps dancer’s repertoire. The cast sets the scene for Act II, clouding the stage with ominous white tutus and broken hearts.

Last night, I saw American Ballet Theatre in Frederick Ashton's Cinderella, a ballet that entered the company's rep just this season. Of course, you're at the theater to see the magical story of Cinderella and her prince unfold. And what magic it was! Julie Kent played an endearing, doe-eyed Cinderella and Marcelo Gomes was princely, as always. But in Ashton's version, the evil stepsisters—men dressed to the nines in corsets and wigs—dare I say it, stole the show.

This week, the Australian Ballet's Kevin Jackson will make his debut with American Ballet Theatre, dancing the familiar role of Des Grieux in Sir Kenneth MacMillan's Manon. Mr. Jackson's performance marks only the second time that a dancer from the Australian Ballet has guested with American Ballet Theatre. With his ABT debut around the corner (you can catch him on June 4th and June 6th), Mr. Jackson spoke to Pointe about interpreting the role of Des Grieux, partnering Xiomara Reyes, and the modern significance of the story ballet.

 

An integral portion of Le Corsaire’s first act is the Odalisque pas de trois—a dance by three slave girls whom the audience knows little about. Choreographed to a grandiose score, the Odalisque variations act as an interlude in the ballet's larger plot. Their precise and petite steps cater to the meekness and femininity of the role. This recording from 1999 showcases Gillian Murphy taking this character to a new level as a recently promoted soloist for the American Ballet Theatre.

Last night, I attended the final round of Youth America Grand Prix's New York City finals. Every year, I'm overwhelmed by the level of talent at the competition, and this year was no exception. There's nothing more exciting than spotting the stars of tomorrow, today.

American Ballet Theatre soloist Misty Copeland has been all over the news recently, promoting her revealing new memoir, Life in Motion.

It's news that, as a New Yorker, I am selfishly sad to report: American Ballet Theatre has announced that its The Nutcracker, choreographed by Alexei Ratmansky, will move to the west coast in 2015. Its last New York performance will be this December at the Brooklyn Academy of Music before it calls the Segerstom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa, California, "home." Ratmansky's production premiered in 2010 and received instant praise for its fine use of students and quick wit.

 

Before—though not long before—they were immortalized as Cooper Nielson and Kathleen Donahue (Center Stage, we'll never stop loving you), Ethan Stiefel and Julie Kent starred in the 1998 PBS broadcast of American Ballet Theatre's Le Corsaire. Corsaire's choreography may be as cheesy as they come, but what does that matter when you have two of the  world's greatest dancers leading its cast?

Sometimes it seems like Alexei Ratmansky is remaking the classical canon, one ballet at a time. He restaged Le Corsaire and Flames of Paris back when he was director of the Bolshoi. Dutch National Ballet premiered his take on Don Quixote in 2010. He gave The National Ballet of Canada a new Romeo and Juliet in 2011. He took a risk with his unconventional Firebird for American Ballet Theatre in 2012. And ABT has made his delightful Nutcracker an annual New York tradition.