Somewhere in the history of ballet, a rumor started that dancers weren't very smart. Luckily, there are plenty of brilliant ballerinas who prove that rumor wrong. Take, for example, Melissa Thomas, a former American Ballet Theatre dancer who just graduated from Columbia University with a degree in psychology. She's now planning to pursue a master's degree in social work and eventually practice clinical psychotherapy. But as she tells it, ballet not only gave her the discipline she needed to succeed in her second career, it also became a passion that will never leave her.
Mark your calendars: There's some great ballet coming into your life over the next couple of weeks—all of which you can catch from the comfort of your couch. Keep an eye out for these programs:
Wendy Whelan: "Restless Creature" The New York City Ballet superstar will preview her new project at the Guggenheim Museum. She'll perform excerpts from new duets created collaboratively with choreographers Joshuah Beamish and Brian Brooks, and show a solo by Shen Wei.
American Ballet Theatre just announced an intriguing transatlantic dancer swap. Royal Ballet principal Steven McRae will come to New York to perform in ABT's Le Corsaire this June and Royal Danish Ballet principal Alban Lendorf will dance with the company in Sleeping Beauty this July. In exchange, ABT will lend principal Cory Stearns to The Royal Ballet in December and soloist Isabella Boylston to the Royal Danish Ballet for their Nutcracker.
Getting to attend the annual Dance Magazine Awards is one of my favorite perks of this job. The caliber of artists you get to rub shoulders with each year is kind of amazing, if a bit overwhelming. The first time I went, as a Dance Magazine intern, I remember seeing Alessandra Ferri float up the aisle to accept her award with the exact same effortless fluidity she moves with onstage.
Last night I got to see American Ballet Theatre in Alexei Ratmansky's Nutcracker. I absolutely love this production. The choreography is thrilling, with psychological twists and an epic grand pas de deux. I'll admit it: I even cried at the end.
Picture this: You have a personal invite to David Hallberg's rehearsals and performances with American Ballet Theatre. He regularly gives you individual training and coaching advice. He takes a special interest in your career.
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.