For an aspiring ballerina, there's no more exciting place to be than the ABT Studio Company, the pre-professional arm of American Ballet Theatre. The NYC-based troupe of 16- to 20-year-old dancers trains hard and performs harder, putting on multiple shows over the course of each season. We followed ensemble member Léa Fleytoux, a gifted 18-year-old from Paris, France, on a performance day to get an inside look at what it's like to live the Studio Company life.
Matthew Bourne's dramatic ballet The Red Shoes, which earned rave reviews in England last year, is heading stateside this month. Based on the Academy Award–winning 1948 movie of the same name, the show follows the passionate aspiring ballerina Victoria Page as she tries to dance her way to the top, but ultimately must choose between her love of dance and the love of her life. Joining Bourne's company, New Adventures, as guest artists are New York City Ballet principal Sara Mearns, who will perform the role of Victoria for select performances at New York City Center; and American Ballet Theatre principal Marcelo Gomes, who will tour with the company, dancing the role of Julian Craster in select cities. DS chatted with Mearns to see what the rehearsal process has been like, and how it's been different from preparing for a typical NYCB season.
As dancers, we know how crazy things can get backstage before a show. But backstage before a show by the world-class American Ballet Theatre at the 3,800-seat Metropolitan Opera House? That's a completely different level of crazy.
The New York Times recently took a camera behind the scenes at the Met as ABT got ready for a performance of Alexei Ratmansky's Whipped Cream. They condensed the two-hour tour into a seven-minute video ("Don't blink," says a helpful caption)—and captured a little bit of all the different parts of the Met's bustling backstage world.
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.
It’s no wonder Misty Copeland is a role model for countless aspiring ballerinas. Misty didn’t take her first dance class until age 13, at the local Boys & Girls Club in San Pedro, CA. Her natural strength and flexibility, plus a killer work ethic, meant she advanced quickly, and in 2000 she joined American Ballet Theatre’s Studio Company. Misty became a member of ABT’s corps de ballet in 2001 and was promoted to soloist in 2007. Not afraid to think outside the ballerina box, Misty toured with Prince in 2011 and has made numerous TV appearances, including in a Dr. Pepper commercial last year. Now her followers can find inspiration in her book, Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina, which describes the ups and downs of her journey, including what it’s like to be one of the few black dancers in the ballet world. Get your copy of Life in Motion via amazon.com and bookstores March 4—and read on for The Dirt. —RZ
Misty Copeland in La Bayadère (Photo by Rosalie O'Connor)
What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?
What’s one thing you can’t live without?
Who would play you in a movie?
What’s your dream role?
Juliet...today. It changes all the time.
What’s the strangest thing in your dance bag?
Men's Cologne. I prefer it to women's.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
RULING THE WORLD. Just kidding. LOL. Retiring from dance, traveling, having a family, continuing to diversify classical ballet.
What’s your most embarrassing onstage moment?
Falling on my face—which I've done too many times.
What have been your proudest career moments so far?
Dancing Firebird, helping bring Project Plié to fruition.
What's your advice for Dance Spirit readers?
Surround yourself with people who will support you. It's OK to accept help and advice!