The answer to Canton, MI, native Precious Adams' ballet dreams lay abroad. Adams studied at the National Ballet School of Canada (relatively near her home in Michigan), and eventually her desire to seek out the best possible training led her even further afield, to the Monte Carlo Ballet's Princess Grace Academy, and the Bolshoi Ballet Academy.
When Adams went to Saint Petersburg, Russia, to dance at the 2007 Dance Open master classes, the experience was a little bit of a shock. Despite seeing few other dancers of color throughout her training, in Russia, Adams felt like her race was really visible. "It was the first time I felt like, 'Oh, I'm black and maybe that might not be a good thing in this profession,' " she says. "Despite that realization, I was even more determined to pursue my dreams."
Adams won the Prix de Lausanne in 2014, and an offer from English National Ballet followed. Her ultra-refined classical technique has helped her dance everything from La Sylphide to William Forsythe's In the middle, somewhat elevated to Pina Bausch's Rite of Spring. And, thanks in part to Copeland, Adams believes that assumptions about black women and black dancers are starting to change. "After all," she says, "when people are excluded, talent is wasted."
Happy merry everything, everyone! Whether or not you celebrate Christmas, you'll LIVE for this:
The English National Ballet has constructed a pointe shoe Christmas tree. It is made out of 540 pointe shoes. And it is even more delightful than you'd imagine.
Move over, Sergei Polunin*: There's a new ballet heartthrob in town.
Well, not "new," exactly: The fabulously talented Isaac Hernández has been a lead principal with the English National Ballet since 2015, and previously danced with Dutch National Ballet and San Francisco Ballet. (He's also part of a distinguished dance family: You met his brother, SFB corps member Esteban, in our March issue roundup of up-and-coming danseurs.)
But a dreamy new video by filmmaker Ezra Hurwitz—"Despertares" [Wake Up], featuring Hernández dancing in studios and on rooftops all over NYC—makes a strong case for this beautiful dancer becoming your next ballet crush:
Usually, when we see ballerinas out in the mainstream world—in commercials, on TV shows, in movies—they're portrayed as either delicate little flowers or twisted, tortured souls.
Rarely, though, does the average person see ballet dancers for what they really are: totally hardcore.
My new favorite exception to that rule comes courtesy Lexus, whose TV spot "Poise" for the Lexus IS features the awesome Tamara Rojo.
Talk about a hardcore ballerina: In addition to being a superstar performer, Rojo is also artistic director of the English National Ballet. (You know. NBD.) And the ad shows her in all her kick-butt glory, zooming in on her powerful legs and feet as she bourrées at lightning speed and whips off quadruple fouettés.
The tagline? "A stronger body for greater control." Couldn't have said it better myself.
The sad thing is that this ad was produced by Lexus UK, so we won't see it over here in the States. The happy thing is that it's on YouTube, so you can watch it obsessively whenever you feel like it. And believe me, you'll feel like it.
Here's the ad...
...and here's a bonus clip featuring an interview with Rojo and more footage of her amazing dancing:
(For those of you now also obsessed with the song that plays during the ad—so, all of you—here it is!)
Sometimes, as a dance fan, you wish you could be everywhere at once. There's all kinds of amazing dance stuff happening in NYC this month (American Ballet Theatre! New York City Ballet! Gallim Dance! KEIGWIN + COMPANY!)—so as a New Yorker, I'm a pretty lucky girl. And yet I'm pining for a show that's now touring the UK: "Against Time," a collaboration between the hip hop group Flawless and English National Ballet.
An unlikely pairing? Well, sure. But how could a combination of street dance, acrobatics and ballet not add up to a great time? Choreographed by ENB soloist Jenna Lee and Flawless' Marion "Swoosh" Wallen, the work tells the story of an evil watchmaker who plans to stop time—and, in turn, dancing—forever. Sounds like good, kooky fun to me. And just look at the promotional pictures below. Adorable!
Friends across the pond: Definitely check this one out. JEALOUS.
All photos by Laurent Liotardo. (Click to enlarge.)
Last year, we introduced you to the magical majesty of the English National Ballet's pointe shoe Christmas tree, the holly-jolliest of all holly-jolly things. This year? This year, it's back—and it is even more amazing, if that's possible.
There are zillions of makeup goodies out there, and just as many ways to wear them. Rather than spending the rest of your life trying to find that perfect black eyeliner pen, take a cue from these pros, who have streamlined their prep routines to get the job done night after night.
English National Ballet is doing something a little bit curious: The company is performing two versions of Giselle in one season. The second one is the romantic-tutu version we know and love. But the first one, premiering at the end of the month, is a contemporary take by choreographer Akram Khan. In his imagination, Giselle transforms into something pretty darn creepy—which makes sense. It's a ghost story, after all.
Step into the rehearsal studio through these amazingly thorough videos by English National Ballet.
Here, three company members go into detail about what it's like to work with Khan:
Here Khan and ENB artistic director Tamara Rojo talk about the need to revisit classic works:
And here's a semi-terrifying trailer that makes me want to hop on the first plane to the UK so I catch opening night: