World-class ballet dancers. An elegant, light-drenched setting. Black-and-white cinematography. A serene orchestral score. It never fails, guys: Give us these ingredients, and we'll watch your video on loop, forever.
Ken Browar and Deborah Ory of NYC Dance Project show their mastery of that beautiful formula in a new video, "The Art of Movement," created to promote their stunning new photography book of the same name. (Be sure to enter our giveaway!) For two glorious minutes, we get to see American Ballet Theatre's Cassandra Trenary and Daniil Simkin doing what they do best. The location—the enormous top floor of NeueHouse Madison Square—adds ambiance. But the focus remains squarely on these dancers' exquisite artistry.
So much pretty.
It's pure ballet bliss. Happy Friday, everybody.
Recovering from a major sugar hangover right now? Here, this'll make you feel better: Gaze in wonder at the Halloween costumes American Ballet Theatre's dancers pulled out yesterday, which are seriously, seriously on point(e).
Yes, we know—we already did our "best of" Halloween roundup. We already talked about the amazing Maddie thing that Heidi Klum did on "Ellen." But some late-arriving social media posts make a strong case for ABT as the official winner of Halloween 2016.
Let's progress to the (literally) cheeky, aka principal Jeffrey Cirio as Tom Cruise in Risky Business:
Soloist Cassandra Trenary's Ethan Stiefel/Cooper Nielson impression—including a Charlie cameo!—was truly inspired:
And the all-around winner? That'd be Erica Lall, who ABSOLUTELY NAILED Aunt Viv from "Fresh Prince," good lord:
Bonus: While we didn't get a peek at Misty Copeland's costume, she did repost this adorable little ballerina-in-the-making's Misty ensemble. D'awwwwww!
#Repost @chrisannibell ・・・ Our 2 year old Nia has been telling everyone she's met over the past few weeks that she is going to be world renown ballerina #MistyCopeland for Halloween. Thank you @mistyonpointe for inspiring our little brown babygirl. #blackgirlmagic #ballet #halloween2016 @imanimiller1
A video posted by Misty Copeland (@mistyonpointe) on
Everyone knows it's not only the steps or technique that make a ballerina memorable. It's the emotion—and the ability to tell a story—that truly captivates an audience. And American Ballet Theatre's latest video is here to help. It takes us inside this season's production of The Sleeping Beauty, complete with luscious footage of the ballet itself and a few wise words on really getting inside Aurora's head, straight from some of ballet's leading ladies.
Because let's face it, getting into character is easier said than done. I mean, it's a little tricky to relate to a princess who sleeps for 100 years when you can't even squeeze in a power nap. And who has time for a prince when you've got rehearsals? It takes a lot of focus and imagination to play a convincing character, especially in a fairy tale story like The Sleeping Beauty.
In the video, principal Gillian Murphy talks about all the famous Auroras she looks up to and says: "Be inspired by that huge history of iconic Auroras and ballerinas, but also you have to make it your own." Cassandra Trenary, a soloist, credits Artist in Residence Alexei Ratmansky with helping the dancers dive deep into their roles. "He (Ratmansky) is able to give you a story behind every single movement. Whether it's a variation or a pas de deux, you're not just taking your partner's hand. It's like, that's the love of your life! Just keep that in the back of your mind."
Note taken. So long story short, don't be afraid to ask your teacher or director for guidance if you're struggling, take inspiration from others who have played the role and always trust your gut to make your portrayal authentically you.
As for the production itself, this Sleeping Beauty is absolutely dreamy (pun intended)—principal Stella Abrera (also featured in the video) says it's "kind of like watching a very old painting from the Louvre slowly come to life." This "new meets old" ABT Ratmansky version of SB premiered last season, but if you missed it check out the video for an exclusive behind-the-scenes look. Or, see it live when it runs at the Met June 27-July 2!
Unless you've been living in some strange internet-less hole, you probably already know that yesterday was a HUGE day for the ballet world. American Ballet Theatre announced seven (count 'em!) promotions—and one of them was the extraordinary Misty Copeland, who's now the company's first African-American female principal.
From Copeland's epic Under Armour campaign—she willed what she wanted.
The crowd—and by crowd I mean mainstream press, as well as dance fans everywhere—went WILD.
Copeland got social media shoutouts from (almost literally) everyone, including Hillary Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, Taye Diggs and Laverne Cox.
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) June 30, 2015
Brava! Yay! And Hallelujah to you @mistyonpointe . Beaming with pride at your magnificent achievement as Principal Dancer ABT?????? — Oprah Winfrey (@Oprah) July 1, 2015
All hail the Queen. My "sister" Misty Copeland was just promoted to Principal dancer with ABT!! An amazing day for dancers and chocolates...
— Taye Diggs (@TayeDiggs) June 30, 2015
Tears of joy. Congrats @mistyonpointe on your promotion to principal dancer at #ABT #inspiration #historymakers http://t.co/L1QM7l2QvT — Laverne Cox (@Lavernecox) June 30, 2015
She was a trending topic on Twitter and a front-page story in the New York Times.
All of this is so, so well-deserved. Copeland has been an incredible force both onstage and offstage during her decade and a half with ABT. She is a genuine celebrity, yes, but also a true and wonderful artist. She's worked unbelievably hard—and now she's made history.
But let's not forget about the other dancers currently celebrating over at ABT—especially the gorgeous and long-overlooked Stella Abrera, who was also made a principal yesterday after spending 14 years as a soloist.
Abrera as Gamzatti in La Bayadère (© NYC Dance Project)
Not only audience members but also company dancers have been hoping for this promotion for ages. Because the members of ABT love, love, love Stella. Just look at this video Abrera's good friend Julie Kent captured of the ABT dancers reacting to Abrera's promotion:
A video posted by Julie Kent (@juliekentofficial) on
There are a lot of newly christened soloists, too: Skylar Brandt, Thomas Forster, Luciana Paris, Arron Scott and Cassandra Trenary all earned the title yesterday. We're especially excited about Brandt and Trenary, rising stars we've been following since they joined the company in 2011. (And how cute is this: Brandt and Scott are dating. A bf–gf promotion! D'awww.)
And as if that weren't enough, ABT also announced that the fantastic Maria Kochetkova of San Francisco Ballet and the dashing Alban Lendorf of the Royal Danish Ballet will join as principal dancers, while Boston Ballet firebrand Jeffrey Cirio will come onboard as a soloist. These are all artists we can't get enough of—we're really looking forward to seeing more of them at ABT. (SFB and RDB fans, fear not: Kochetkova and Lendorf will continue to dance with their respective home companies.)
Congrats all around! What a wonderful week it's been.
I love photographs that capture not only beautiful dance positions, but also the feeling of dance—that crazy kinetic kick you get watching somebody move.
Photographer and former contemporary ballet dancer Jesús Chapa-Malacara has figured out a cool lighting technique that allows his images to do that perfectly. They're artfully blurred, conveying a sense of movement—but that amazing moment when everything's fully stretched and pointed is still in perfect focus.
It gets even better: He's recruited a group of gorgeous ballet models, most of whom are members of American Ballet Theatre. The roster currently includes Michaela DePrince, Jared Matthews, Yuriko Kajiya, James Whiteside, Sterling Baca, Elina Miettinen, Sean Stewart, Cassandra Trenary and Patrick Yocum, and it's growing quickly.
Chapa-Malacara is hoping to create an art book, Esprit de Corps, out of his beautiful images. And he's turned to Kickstarter to help him raise the funds he needs to do so. Take a peek at a few of his photos below—then check out his campaign here.
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