As the holidays get closer, the days become packed with classes, rehearsals and Nutcracker performances. All too often, as our cover ballerina Alina Cojocaru discovered, a dancer can focus heart and soul on perfecting her art, and never permit herself to step back and enjoy dancing for itself. Then one day, life intervenes. For Cojocaru, it was a traumatic injury that threatened to end her career. Read the dramatic story of her recovery (“Dancing for Joy,” p. 44), and how she has finally learned to take pleasure simply in performing.
The days leading up to Christmas are special for Cojocaru now. “It’s so much easier at this time to actually believe in magic,” she says. “I love humming the carols and decorating the tree and that people are smiling more.” And like many dancers, she tries to spend time with family. “This season is such a reminder of the important things in life—the people we love.”
There are lots of holiday treats for readers in this issue, starting with “The Standouts” (p. 53), a thrilling roundup of ballet’s best moments from the past year. Go on the set of Black Swan, the new Natalie Portman ballet movie, and find out how she learned the subtleties of swan arms in “The Price of Perfection” (p. 76). Read an insightful interview with choreographer Alexei Ratmansky about his vision for American Ballet Theatre’s new Nutcracker (“Bittersweet Fairy Tale,” p. 64). And peek behind the scenes at Pacific Northwest Ballet’s recent performance in the Guggenheim’s “Works & Process” series (p. 70).
No matter how you celebrate, try to give yourself a real break so you can head into the summer intensive audition season refreshed. This issue’s summer study coverage includes not only a comprehensive program guide (“2011 Summer Study Guide,” p. 114), but also a look at the new trend in mini-intensives (“The August Advantage,” p. 80) and some thoughtful advice on how to deal with a turndown from the program you want most (“Rejected,” p. 83). Determination counts, but so does keeping your perspective. This coming year, try taking a step back.