Last night, "The Colbert Report" came to a close. But Stephen Colbert isn't one to go out with a whimper. Instead, the final episode of his genius political show featured an epic musical finale, with appearances by about a gagillion guest stars who sang and danced their little hearts out.
Prominent among them were none other than Lil Buck and David Hallberg—who, naturally, had the best dance moves of the entire group. (Hallberg even waltzed with Katie Couric, as one does when one is a dancer standing next to Katie Couric.)
But who has better hair?
Seem a tad random? It isn't, actually! Both of the dance stars made memorable guest appearances on "The Colbert Report" in the not-so-distant past. Last year, Lil Buck walked Colbert through the entire history of Memphis jookin (which is totally fascinating), complete with demonstrations. And back in 2011, shortly after Hallberg announced he'd be joining Moscow's Bolshoi Ballet, he got Colbert to don tights for a little balletic duet. Bless you, Stephen Colbert, for calling attention to some of the coolest people in the often-overlooked dance world.
Check out last night's song-and-dance number below—and then take a little walk down memory lane and watch the original Lil Buck and David Hallberg segments. We'll miss you, "Colbert Report"!
The Russians are coming! The Russians are coming!
Actually, they're already here: Moscow's famous Bolshoi Ballet has arrived in NYC for more than two weeks of performances.
"Bolshoi" literally translates to "big"—which is perfect, because this company doesn't do anything small. They've brought three huge productions with them to the Big Apple: classics Swan Lake and Don Quixote, and an over-the-top man-candy festival known as Spartacus.
It's a chance for New Yorkers to see ginormous stars, especially the world-renowned Svetlana Zakharova.
Zakharova being her usual unreal self in Don Quixote (photo by Gene Schiavone)
We'll also finally witness Zakharova's much-talked-about partnership with David Hallberg, the American Ballet Theatre star who's made the Bolshoi his second home.
High drama: Hallberg and Zakharova in Swan Lake (photo by Damir Yusupov)
And we'll get a good look at up-and-comers like gorgeous Olga Smirnova, who at just 22 has already earned thousands of rabidly devoted fans.
Classical perfection: Smirnova in "Diamonds" from Jewels (photo by Damir Yusupov)
Time for some real talk: The past couple of years haven't been so great for the Bolshoi. Early in 2013, director Sergei Filin was attacked by a masked man who threw acid on his face, leaving Filin nearly blind. The resulting investigation revealed a lot of disturbing—sometimes downright scary—information about Bolshoi politics.
But Filin, who after many surgeries has regained some of his eyesight, is back at the Bolshoi's helm. (He was even a judge at the Youth America Grand Prix finals this spring.) And it's a good sign that most of the press the group has been getting recently concerns dancing, rather than scandal. Here's hoping that the company's ugliest moments are past—so we can get back to obsessing about its truly fantastic artists.
The Bolshoi Ballet performs through July 27 at Lincoln Center. Click here to learn more!
My ballet boyfriend David Hallberg has a new love Down Under, and it's low-key breaking my heart. Okay, I'll be a little less melodramatic (and maybe explain what I'm talking about): Hallberg, who's basically a real-life Apollo of ballet, has been recovering in Sydney ever since he suffered a pretty gnarly ankle injury in 2014.
David Hallberg (photo by Henry Leutwyler)
Cue two and a half dark, dark years for those of us who love seeing him onstage with American Ballet Theatre, where he's a principal danseur. The bright light at the end of the Hallberg-less tunnel was next month's premiere of Alexei Ratmansky's Whipped Cream, in which he'll dance the role of Prince Coffee. *swoons*
But now there's news via The New York Times that the land of dingoes and didgeridoos still gets to keep Hallberg—at least, for part of the year. The Times reported this morning that the Australian Ballet has named Hallberg their first-ever international resident guest artist. David McAllister, the artistic director of Australian Ballet, says that means Hallberg "comes to Australia every year and performs with us in selected repertoire and he has very generously also agreed to do some coaching and mentoring during these visits.”
Well, don't forget how much your American fans miss you, Hallberg. Oh yeah, and don't be surprised if we decide this is a great excuse to take a trip down under. G'Day, Australian Ballet!
Hallberg back in 2012 (Matthew Karas for Dance Magazine)
How much have we missed American Ballet Theatre and Bolshoi Ballet star David Hallberg? SOOOOOOOO MUCH.
The gorgeous dancer suffered a serious ankle injury back in 2014, which was the beginning of a dark period in many devoted Hallbergians' lives. But we really started to worry about a year ago, when he shaved his famously luscious locks and then essentially disappeared—not just from the stage, but also from NYC, and even from Instagram. Let's just say that many prayers were sent to the dance gods on his behalf.
Then, a few months ago, there was a glimmer of hope: It looked like Hallberg was back in the ballet studio. And a couple of weeks ago, we got the news we'd been waiting for: An Australian dance critic revealed Hallberg would be returning to the stage December 13, dancing Franz in the Australian Ballet's production of Coppélia.
Naturally, there was much rejoicing.
This week, the Sydney Morning Herald published an interview with Hallberg in which he talks about how he's spent the past year. Basically, he moved to Australia and devoted himself completely to his recovery—a long, grueling, mentally devastating process. "Emotionally, some days I was just going by the words of my team and not my own self-belief," he told the Herald. "I was lost mentally but something inside me kept fighting. It took an army of people to get me back on stage. It wasn't just me. It really took the positive reinforcement of the entire team to say, 'you are doing this, this is happening'."
Hallberg's Coppélia performance will actually be his debut as Franz, which makes sense in a way—a fresh start for his fresh start. We are, to put it mildly, profoundly jealous of Sydney's balletomanes. (Here's hoping Hallberg finds his way to NYC soon.)
Welcome back to the stage, David. May you never have to leave it again!
Bad news first: David Hallberg had to cancel his spring season performances with American Ballet Theatre. He had surgery on his foot a few months ago, and apparently jumped back into things a little too quickly—so he's taking the time to make sure his injury heals properly. This is a total bummer for all of us NYC ballet fans, who were looking forward to seeing his perfect technique light up the stage at the Met.
Hallberg flying in one of the Bolshoi's studios (photo by Henry Leutwyler)
Now for the good news: Hallberg is serving as the dance director for the very first Festival of the Desert in Palm Desert, CA, which is happening today! Though he won't dance in the festival, he's helping to bring dance to an area that doesn't usually attract a ton of starpower, and he's doing it with style— New York City Ballet principal Maria Kowroski is slated to dance something by George Balanchine, while American Ballet Theatre principal Veronika Part will dance a more contemporary ballet piece by Lar Lubovich.
Hallberg's cross-cultural ballet career (trained at the Paris Opéra Ballet School, currently dances with ABT and the Bolshoi Ballet) has helped him understand the importance of bringing art to different communities. "I want the Palm Springs area and Southern California to experience extremely high quality art in various disciplines," he told Palm Springs Life magazine. We're all about it—but heal up Hallberg! We want to see you back on the stage, too.
Ballet superstar David Hallberg has put on yet another hat: National Spokesperson for Ballet in Cinema, which brings some of the best ballet companies in the world to the big screen and main-stream audiences. (It seems like he's everywhere I turn these days—and I'm not complaining!)
As part of his involvement in Ballet in Cinema, Hallberg is starring in The Dancer, a short film directed by Pierce Jackson, that opened last Sunday. In it, he talks about how he views ballet, and he even tells about wanting to be a tap dancer before he discovered The Nutcracker! Plus, there are lots of gorgeous slow-motion clips of him and his dynamite technique.
This short film will run alongside all of Emerging Pictures' Ballet in Cinema and Opera in Cinema screenings through the remainder of 2013. Click here for the schedule.