Tag Archive: ballet


A young man from the Mount Rushmore state will soon be premiering with a company that’s older than this country. David Hallberg joined the prestigious Bolshoi Ballet and will be part of the production of “Sleeping Beauty” shortly, and he’s the first American to join the troupe since American companies started recruiting Russian dancers 50 years ago.

The Washington Post ran a story from the Associated Press detailing Hallberg’s trajectory from South Dakota to American Ballet Theatre, then onto Moscow to dance with the company. Follow the link here to read more about Hallberg, his teachers and his journey to Russia.

Penny Saunders and Pablo Piantino of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago perform Jiri Kylian's "Petite Mort." Photo by Todd Rosenberg

It’s Nevada Ballet Theatre’s 40th season this year and the company is joining hands with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago to kick it of properly. “Dance Dance Dance!” opens at Paris Las Vegas on Oct. 29 and 30 and will include George Balanchine’s Concerto Barocco, Jirí Kylián’s”Petite Mort,” Sharon Eyal’s and Gaï Behar’s “Too Beaucoup” and James Canfield’s “Up” and “Cinq Gnossiennes.”

For single tickets to “Dance Dance Dance!,” give the Paris Theatre Box Office a ring at 702-946-4567 or click here. Catch the show on Oct. 29 at 8 p.m. or Oct. 30 at 2 p.m. An opening night special offer is available; $40 buys a ticket to the Oct. 29 show and a front-of-the-line, no-cover pass to Chateau Nightclub and Gardens. Click here for the moolah-saving details.

But (and I’m risking sounding like a used car salesman here, but bear with me) that’s not all! Hubbard Street artistic director Glenn Edgerton will teach a professional-level master class from 1:30 to 3 p.m. on Oct. 27 at NBT’s Summerlin studios. $75 nets the master class and a ticket to “Dance Dance Dance!” on Oct. 29 at 8 p.m. or Oct. 30 at 2 p.m. Walk-up registration is available the day of the class for $50, but space is limited. To save a spot, call 702-243-2623 to register.

For much of the dance world, tradition is the backbone in the body of technique. Ballet and modern are perhaps at the helm of this, each with long histories of established customs. This rigorous structure allowed for an interesting tangent in the 1980s in the form of exploratory, creative movement; a sort of cubism of the dance world. These tendencies persist today, and not just in modern dance.

Russian ballet might not fall under the “unorthodox” category for most people, but that’s how Tobi Tobias described recent performances by Mariinsky Ballet.  Although Tobias undercuts the production of “Anna Karenina,” he speaks candidly and gives fair voice to the dancers who “did their best under the unfavorable circumstances.” The review also includes an assessment of Alexei Ratmansky’s “The Little Humpbacked Horse,” a remake of a ballet whose history began in 1864. Find a link to the story here.

The second installment in the wave of the unusual is enumerated in Deborah Jowitt’s latest post about Jonah Bokaer and his pieces “Recess” and “Why Patterns.” Paper and ping-pong balls both make appearances and contribute to larger questions: What is a pattern? When does it cease to be one? What do 10,000 small, plastic balls have to do with anything? Jowitt muses on these and other issues in her post on DanceBeat. Read it here.

For dancers, summers don’t always mean sleeping in, laying out by the pool and staying far away from school. In fact, many spend hours a day in classes, and lounging in bed is made difficult by early mornings in dance studios. Summer intensives are known as such for a reason; those who have attended tend to remember them with a combination of a smile and a grimace.

Intensives usually stretch from one week to a couple months and the programs often have kids in dance classes for six or seven hours a day. The experience acts as a rite of passage for many, and not just from a training perspective. Students are usually between the ages of 12 and 18 or 20 or so, and summer intensives provide a structured way for young adults to be away from their parents.

These can also act as extended auditions. Ballet and modern schools often use the time to observe dancers in a close and consistent environment, evaluating whether each student would be a valuable addition to a training program or second company.

The non-intensive type of audition is another summer staple, with dancers flocking to impress directors of prominent companies. These can be international affairs and, for some companies, the idea of auditioning for them is brand-new. The Bolshoi, for instance, held their first open audition happened recently.

The New York Times recently ran an excellent feature on dancers completing summer intensives in New York City. The Moscow News also detailed the first open audition held at the Bolshoi, ever. Both happen during the summer and both represent important rituals in the dance world, whose memories tend to eclipse lazy afternoons on a beach.

What does the Joffrey Ballet company, the NBA and the government of Minnesota have in common? Two have already ceased operating in light of failed negotiations and the third could be facing the same fate.

The Joffrey company is up against a stalemate similar to the ones that hog-tied basketball players and politicians alike. Because the company has failed to reach an agreement with the dancers’ union, the American Guild of Musical Artists, the beginning of the 2011-2012 season could be abbreviated and dancers received notice that a shutdown is possible. Part of the disagreement stems from proposed pay raises for the dancers and increased rehearsal time, from 25 to 30 hours a week.

The dancers are on a regularly scheduled break until July 25. The disputing groups are hoping that an agreement will be reached before rehearsals commence, because Christopher Conway, executive director of the company, said the season will not begin without one. The first performance threatened by the potential shutdown is an annual event at the Blossom Festival in Ohio.

Follow the link here for the full story on Artsbeat from the New York Times. Information about the company’s upcoming season is available here.

It might not be an animated movie about a love story between two garden gnomes, but Russian National Ballet Theatre’s “Romeo and Juliet” and “Chopiniana” was pretty awesome. Check out my coverage of the concert in the Rebel Yell, the student newspaper for the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Happy reading!

The Vegas Nutcracker season was wrapped up and topped with a bow by NBT’s rendition, performed at the Paris Las Vegas Theatre from Dec. 17 to 26.  The ballet was choreographed by Peter Anastos and displayed a commendable balance of visual razzle-dazzle and simplicity in its production and choreography. The company, under the artistic direction of James Canfield, was well-polished and the students, from the Nevada Ballet Theatre Academy, did a very respectable job.

Anastos’ choreography contributed a revitalizing energy to a show that has been performed by NBT for 29 years. The production quality, from lighting  (by Nicholas Cavallaro, executed by Peter Jakubowski) to costuming and sets by A. Christina Giannini, was excellent. The theatrical nature demanded by Peter Tchaikovsky’s iconic score was beautifully presented in the dramatic red, black and gold theater.

For those already familiar with the story of Clara and her beloved nutcracker doll, there were few surprises. The story began with Clara (Leigh Hartley) and her brother Fritz (Benjamin Blomquist and Gene Mesheryakov) joining their parents for a festive party in honor of the season. Children and adults alike danced in turn, with both groups embodying the rosy-cheeked holiday spirit.

NBT’s version featured several notable sections in the party scene. The children performed a garland dance, May-pole style, in the middle, and their sliding chasses were a credit to their training. Spirited characters like Clara’s grandparents (Jamey Gallagher and Tara Foy) added a good measure of humor.

Drosselmeyer (Marcus Bugler), the magician that presented Clara and the other children with the nutcracker doll (Griffin Whiting) mechanical mouse (Aimee Schleimer and Ariel Triunfo) and ballerina doll (Betsy Lucas and Kelly Callahan), was properly dramatic and set the magical aspect of the story into motion.

After the battle scene between the Mouse King (Anthony Paparelli), white mice (played by children and an NBT addition to the original) and the Nutcracker Prince, the prince took Clara on a journey to the Kingdom of Snow and the Land of the Sweets.

This is where the meaty dancing comes in. Fierce snowflakes in the Kingdom of Snow, coupled with the commanding presence of the Snow King and Queen (Jeremy Bannon-Neches and Sarah Fuhrman), did justice to Anastos’ regal and flurry-ful choreography. Strong technique was evident in seamless  turns and extension, fluid partnering and Bannon-Neches’ grand pirouettes. The “snow” falling onto the dancers was a nice theatrical touch.

Fog and the demur bourreeing of angels en pointe heralded Clara and Co.’s arrival in the Land of the Sweets. Alissa Dale’s Sugar Plum Fairy, with neat footwork and elastic port de bras,  shimmered in an iridescent purple tutu. With her Cavalier (Grigori Arakelyan) beside her, she introduced the rest of the delectable treats heralding from the Land of the Sweets.

Each of the national dances was distinct, lending (if you will kindly pardon the pun) unique flavors with each variation. Another sweet addition came with the miniature corps, small both in terms of size and in terms of stature: Young ballet students constituted a supporting cast for each of their full-sized counterparts, scuttling around as travel-sized Spanish chocolate, French marzipan and the like.

The second act also featured some NBT innovations that made nice addenda to the original. Pint-sized bakers assembled a three-tiered cake and salt water taffy sailors bounced buoyantly with aquatic-themed props.

The Dewdrop Fairy (Krista Baker) and her company of flowers glimmered as a high point in the act. The dancers were clad in flouncing romantic tutus in a pink gradient and looked appropriately like gumdrops, albeit graceful ones, with spidery limbs. Developes en menage, coupled with the skirts, created a particularly striking visual and Baker’s controlled suspension and pristine fouette turns were not to be discounted.

The grand pas de deux that led into the finale of the show was a revitalizing, candy-coated affair. Anastos’ choreography entailed a good measure of both solo sections and unison, allowing the audience to see the individual personalities of the variations before wrapping the entire thing up neatly. Dale’s Sugar Plum, backed by her Arakelyan Cavalier, again directed the proceedings. With a partnered quadruple pirouette to a picturesque arabesque, she was the beautiful bow on top.

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