Stars of the 21st Century
Hi DS readers,
I'm sure that many of you, as dancers, are huge fans of the ballet. Whether you prefer a live, evening performance of Giselle or you enjoy sitting on your couch watching the final scenes from Center Stage, when ballet is done right, it's absolutely breathtaking. Last night I was fortunate enough to attend the Stars of the 21st Century International Ballet Gala at NYC's Lincoln Center. Sure, I live in NYC and I work here at Dance Spirit, but this was my first real, big-city ballet and I can happily say it was everything I had hoped it would be.
First off, let me tell you that as a dancer, Lincoln Center needs to be on your life's "must see" list. At night, the arches of the Opera House glow under the white lights in the dark and the buzz of eager ballet fans entering the New York State Theater next door is exhilarating. The men donned tuxedos and ladies arrived decked out in fur coats with handfuls of diamonds adorning their ears and necks.
But OK, on to the ballet... The two-act program featured a range of dancers from Berlin to Munich, Paris to Vienna, and of course, New York City Ballet and American Ballet Theatre. Each Pas de Deux variation was captivating, to say the least. The evening's classical variations like Le Corsaire (performed by Anastasia Matvienko and Denis Matvienko from Mikhailovsky Opera and Ballet Theatre in Russia) and La Sylphide (performed by Myriam Ould-Brahm, Paris Opera Ballet, and David Makhateli, Royal Ballet) featured slow and controlled movements and long, perfectly pointed extensions.
For me, it was the unique ballets that really caught my attention, like Radio & Juliet, which was performed by Anastasia and Denis to music by Radiohead. She traded in her earlier fairy-tale costume for a simple burgundy camisole and tiny black shorts. This time around, their movements were sharp and performed to the strong beats of the music.
Stealing the show, undoubtedly, was Daniil Simkin, a dancer with the Vienna Opera Ballet. Daniil took the stage three times last night--twice in solos and once in a Don Quixote Pas de Deux with Roberta Marquez of the Royal Ballet. Daniil's charismatic stage presence almost overshadowed his bounding leaps and perfectly solid turns. You never worried that Daniil might miss a beat or lose his spot. He was flawless the entire evening and each time he took the stage he was welcomed with resounding yells of "bravo!" from the audience.
I hope that somewhere in your future lies tickets to a ballet at Lincoln Center! But if you can't make it to NYC, get excited for the March issue of DS, which is our annual Ballet Issue. It's jam-packed with ballet competition strategies, new pointe shoe styles and 10 up-and-coming ballet talents. It'll be arriving in your mailboxes soon!
Dancer Yesenia Ayala first caught our eye in the off-Broadway production of Sweet Charity with Sutton Foster earlier this year. So, we were super excited when we found out she was making her Broadway debut in this spring's sweetest new show Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. (Both productions were choreographed by Joshua Bergasse.)
Since the NYC premiere of Alexei Ratmansky's Whipped Cream at American Ballet Theatre's spring gala Monday night, the DS editors haven't stopped talking about its creepy-cute sets and costumes, created by artist Mark Ryden. Well, the obsession is about to get even crazier, because we just heard that Ryden's artwork for the ballet is now on display in not one, but TWO locations in NYC.
Yes, yes, we know: Dancers are athletes as well as artists. But we haven't seen anything hammer home just HOW athletic dancers are quite as well as this video from Self magazine, which features American Ballet Theatre principal/fairy princess Isabella Boylston trying to teach top-level CrossFit enthusiasts ballet.
There's a reason Mia Michaels' nickname is "Mama Mia." The legendary choreographer invests deeply in her dancers, whether they're competitors on "So You Think You Can Dance," members of the Radio City Rockettes, or part of her own elite assistant squad. And now, Michaels is launching a project that aims to give more dancers access to her gifts as a teacher and mentor.
And that's a wrap on "Dancing with the Stars" Season 24, ladies and gents! It's certainly been one for the books. From injuries to shocking eliminations, let's just say Season 24 has had its emotional ups and downs. But despite all that, the season made for some seriously phenom dancing and some killer performances. And as usual, we've loved watching every second of those cha chas, foxtrots, and waltzes.
Let's get right to the exciting stuff, though: Last night's winning couple of "Dancing with the Stars" is...
Nearly 80,000 dance-loving Instagram followers can't be wrong: Quinn Starner is one to watch. And what's just as impressive as the 15-year-old's rabid online following is her ever-growing list of competition accolades. Quinn, who trains at Indiana Ballet Conservatory and Stars Dance Company, been named first runner-up at The Dance Awards for two years in a row (as a junior and a teen); was the 2016 West Coast Dance Explosion Teen National Champion; earned first place in contemporary and third place in the classical division at Youth America Grand Prix Regionals in Pittsburgh last year; has won the Grand Prix Award at ADC|IBC; and was a gold medalist at World Ballet Art Competition Grand Prix. Plus, she made it to the Academy round on last year's "So You Think You Can Dance: The Next Generation," and has performed as Clara in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. Here's what Quinn has to say about her favorite songs, teachers, and career highlights.