In the last few years, Daniel Ulbricht has been pretty busy. In addition to his work as principal dancer at New York City Ballet, his pickup company, Stars of American Ballet, has toured internationally since 2013. This summer, the group will make its debut at the historic Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in a program called Ballet 2014. Ten dancers will perform both classic ballets (like Jerome Robbins’ Fancy Free) and more contemporary work, by choreographers Christopher Wheeldon and Benjamin Millepied. Ulbricht has also commissioned a new pas de deux from rising choreographic star Emery LeCrone. The duet features NYCB corps members Russell Janzen and Emily Kikta. DS spoke with Kikta to get the inside scoop.
Dance Spirit: How would you describe the pas de deux?
Emily Kikta: It’s very romantic. The music is a Rachmaninoff cello sonata. It’s on pointe, but not too classical. Emery’s movement is so natural and expressive.
DS: It must be exhausting to have extra rehearsals on top of your full schedule with NYCB. Do you have any free time?
EK: Luckily, Emery works very quickly, and we knocked out a lot of the piece in one rehearsal. Since then, Russell and I have been finding time to rehearse ourselves—sometimes in the morning before class, or at night when we aren’t performing. So I do have a tiny bit of free time.
Emily Kikta in "Rubies" from George Balanchine's Jewels
(photo by Paul Kolnik)
DS: What would you say is the best part about performing in Ballet 2014?
EK: Since I’m in the corps at NYCB, I’m usually only featured in solo roles. I haven’t really performed a true pas de deux yet. Plus, Daniel’s team of dancers is so amazing. To be in a group with them is such an honor—I feel like I’m not worthy!
DS: What’s most exciting about Ballet 2014?
EK: The program will show how versatile ballet dancers can be. One small group of people is doing both classical and contemporary work—work that’s hard, romantic and energetic.
Jacob’s Pillow is also such a cool venue. There’ll be so many other artists and companies there—it’s a whole culture. It’s actually going to be my first time performing there. I can’t wait.
It's time to get your pirouette on! From September 5th to September 30th, we're hosting a contest to find out who's the best turner of them all.
Put together your most impressive turning combo. Post a video online. Share your turns with us and thousands of other dancers around the world. And if our editors think you're the top turner, you'll win a fabulous prize.
All of 18-year-old Kaylin Maggard's dreams—from scoring the title of National Senior Outstanding Dancer at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals to winning the 2017 Dance Spirit Cover Model Search—are coming true. And to anyone who knows the gorgeous contemporary dancer, that's no surprise.
From the moment the Dance Spirit staff met Kaylin, it was obvious her humility and talent would take her far. Not only did she go full-out during the photo shoot and class at Broadway Dance Center, but she was always cheering on, laughing with, and supporting her fellow CMS contestants Haley Hartsfield and Michelle Quiner. During the voting period, the social media world was abuzz with praise for her work ethic, positive attitude, and generosity.
Since her CMS trip to NYC, Kaylin's moved from her hometown of Columbia, MO, to the Big Apple for her freshman year at Juilliard, and is busy getting acquainted with the city. As for the future? She's taking it one opportunity at a time, but something tells us we'll be seeing this contemporary queen reach new heights every year.
New York City principal Lauren Lovette has become an icon thanks to her emotional maturity and exceptional musicality. The 26-year-old quickly rose through the ranks after joining the company as an apprentice in 2009, reaching principal status in 2015. A Thousand Oaks, CA, native, Lovette started studying ballet seriously at age 11, at the Cary Ballet Conservatory in Cary, NC. After attending two summer courses at the School of American Ballet, she enrolled as a full-time student in 2006. Last year, she made her choreographic debut with For Clara, her first piece for NYCB. Catch her latest work this month during the company's fall season. —Courtney Bowers
In our "Dear Katie" series, former NYCB soloist Kathryn Morgan answers your pressing dance questions. Have something you want to ask Katie? Email firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance to be featured!
I know I'm not getting good enough dance training from any of my local studios. But I'm not sure I'm ready to move away to study at a big-name school, either. How do you know when you're ready to leave home to pursue your passion?
Instagram star Kylie Shea has built a following of nearly 170,000 with her playful workout videos, which combine traditional fitness activities, like jumping rope or running on the treadmill, with pointe shoes and sassy choreography. Shea's effortless cool-girl-next-door vibe and solid ballet technique make her vids totally irresistible.
Now Shea's using her platform to address the body image issues that tend to plague dancers. In a poignant video, she sheds her clothes and tugs at her skin. The caption explains her relationship with her body and the pressure she feels to maintain a certain aesthetic as a dancer.
Physical discomfort is inevitable when you're spending tons of hours in the studio every day, but some pain shouldn't be suffered through. "Dancing through pain can make an injury worse and lead to more time away from dance," says Dr. Joel Brenner, medical director of dance medicine at Children's Hospital of The King's Daughters in Norfolk, VA. "Failing to rest and recover when you're in serious pain could even lead to the point where you're unable to dance in the future."
That may sound scary, but there's good news: If you take precautions and listen to your body, many injuries can be stopped in their tracks. The first step? Knowing what's normal—and what's not.
Think about it: How often do you see a ballet pas de deux for two women? Almost never, right? Sometimes, choreographers will forgo the traditional danseur-ballerina pas to make a duet for two guys, since they can lift and partner each other easily. But a dance for two ballerinas is a rare thing.
That's part of what makes "Duet," a new video by director Andrew Margetson featuring Royal Ballet beauties Yasmin Naghdi and Beatriz Stix-Brunell, so compelling.