Daniel Ulbricht: Choreographer
New York City Ballet principal dancer Daniel Ulbricht, who regularly soars through such sensational roles as Balanchine’s Prodigal Son, recently took on a challenge that kept him focused on the classroom: He choreographed his first neoclassical ballet on 14 students from Ballet Academy East, the Manhattan school where he’s taught for the last two years, for the studio’s February performances.
Determined to work as efficiently as possible, he came to each rehearsal with a list of steps he’d thought of while listening to Rachmaninoff’s Second Suite for Two Pianos. If an inspiration led to a traffic jam of bodies, he eased the tension by saying, with a grin, “I think we’re going to have to work on this.” Advice a professional wouldn’t need—“Breathe when you take that step”—came as a revelation to the students.
“Daniel is a very positive, giving teacher,” says Darla Hoover, BAE associate artistic director. “He pays attention to each student during every class; his inspiration is contagious.”
After 10 years of dancing Balanchine, Martins and Robbins, Ulbricht has absorbed a variety of ways to keep a stage alive. “I’m gratefully helping myself to what they taught me,” he says. “For example: Don’t try to match every note to a movement. Give the music room to breathe. Give the audience time to see the ballet.”
But why did he call his ballet Rachmaninoff 176? His answer reminds you that Ulbricht also dances the ultimate prankster, Puck, in Balanchine’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream: “The music was for two pianos. A piano has 88 keys. Do the math.” —Harris Green
Study In Salzburg
If company auditions are just around the corner but you don’t feel quite ready, brush up your professional skills this summer in Austria. Led by Salzburg Ballet director Peter Breuer, the Salzburg International Ballet Workshop immerses you in the life of a professional.
Dates: July 12–August 9.
Requirements: Open to advanced dancers ages 14–28. There is no deadline to apply, but space is limited to 90 students.
Classes: Ballet, pointe, men’s, pas de deux, variations, repertoire, modern, jazz, choreography, Pilates
Extras: Resumé writing, audition preparation, stage makeup, lighting, costumes, photography sessions (for minimal extra charge)
Performances: Four shows in three different theaters, all filmed for students to use on an audition DVD.
For The Love Of It
Can you put your passion for ballet into words? The Jessica Karrat Scholarship Fund annually awards scholarships of up to $1,000 to a handful of dancers who write an essay that convinces a selection committee that they truly love to dance. “We want to hear about your dreams, the way the music talks to you, the way you feel when you’re in front of an audience,” says Barbara Klinger, president of the fund. Applications (due June 30) are available at www.jkdance.org. —Jennifer Stahl
Dancing For Veggetti
This spring, Italian choreographer Luca Veggetti created Hibiki Hana Ma on six dance majors at SUNY Purchase. Junior Addison Reese says the biggest challenge was mastering Veggetti’s unique movement style: “It was unlike anything I’d ever done before.”
What is Veggetti like in rehearsal?
Very specific! He spoke a lot about impetus and how he wanted the energy or tension to be kept or released.
How much were the dancers part of his process?
It was a lot of partnering, so instead of giving us exact steps, Luca would dance with us to see where we naturally felt we should go. Then he molded our movement from there.
How would you describe his movement?
It’s like a wave that never crashes—very muscular and never-ending.
Find out more about this project on DanceU101.com.
TIP: How can first-timers perform well at a competition?
Everyone around you will be intensely nervous. The hardest part is waiting in the wings. Don’t watch the dancers before you, especially if the audience is very loud or very quiet. Keep stretching and focus on the artistry that you need to bring to the stage, but don’t overthink the steps—they should be in your body by that point. Once you get out there, dance the variation as if it’s the first time, and the last time.
—Sara Michelle Murawski, corps de ballet, Dresden SemperOper Ballett