So, I haven't been pirouetting much for a few years now. But when I was dancing, I used to have this amazing recurring dream, which still haunts me:
I go to do a pirouette. It becomes clear that I am exactly, perfectly on balance. I have a realization that as long as I keep spotting, I'll be able to turn...forever. Spot. Spot. Spot. Spot. Spot...
Today, I discovered that American Ballet Theatre principal Gillian Murphy is living my dream IRL. Her REALITY is a beautiful fantasy world in which pirouettes just go on for, you know, however long she feels like it.
Here's the proof, as documented by fellow ABT principal Daniil Simkin:
There's no question that dance has pretty much taken over when it comes to mainstream advertising (and if you need a refresher—Exhibits A, B and C). And while we're all for dance (and dancers!) getting the recognition they deserve, it can be exhausting to watch brands get it wrong over and over. Which is why these new ads, featuring NYCB's Ashley Bouder, ABT's Gillian Murphy, Lauren Froderman and Dakota Moore, are not only super-tantalizing, but absolutely stunning, too. While we're not super familiar with Acer (we know it's an electronics company based in Taiwan), we must applaud the team behind these beautiful Instagrams. See for yourself below, and prepare to be mesmerized.
Every NYC Dance Project image feels like a glimpse into something greater: a dance that's happening behind a curtain, in a private moment. Take, for example, one of Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal dancer Céline Cassone's photos, a commanding shot of her on pointe in passé, her fiery red hair flung upward over her face. Or, the image of Misty Copeland that perfectly portrays both her incredible strength and her ineffable grace. NYC Dance Project's photographers have taken powerful photos of dozens of famous subjects. But what inspires their iconic images? And how do you capture such stunning shots?
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!
We've all had that amazing pirouette dream.
You know the one I'm talking about: The one where you go into a turn, realize you're perfectly, absolutely, unshakably on-balance, and just. keep. spotting.
5 turns. 6 turns. 7. 8. 9. TEN.
But there are a select few superhumans who live that dream every day. And Sophia Lucia is one of them.
Yes, we already knew she could pull out dozens of turns in tap shoes. These days, however, her pirouettes on pointe are just as insanely impressive.
Instagram don't lie:
Want this to be your reality? Click here for turning tips from Sophia and other experts in the field.
(Fun fact: In the clip above, Sophia is rehearsing one of the "Odalisque" variations from Le Corsaire. There's gorgeous video out there of another dream pirouetter, American Ballet Theatre's Gillian Murphy, doing the same solo as a baby ballerina. If you want to sustain your turning high, you should watch it immediately—main pirouette sequence starts 24 seconds in:)
Cloud & Victory is a ballerina's go-to for the cutest classwear, as well as amazing pictures of some of our favorite dancers holding pizza (see below). What makes C&V even cooler, though, is C&V Sessions—a collection of interviews with some of the dance world's brightest stars. Most recently, American Ballet Theatre principal and all-around superstar Gillian Murphy sat down to dish on everything from her start in ballet to her husband, former ABT principal Ethan Stiefel. The cool thing about C&V Sessions is how candid and real they are. Gone are the generic questions and cookie-cutter answers. Instead, we get to see the dancers as their relaxed, reflective and authentic selves. Below are some highlights from Murphy's interview. Be sure to check it out in full here!
There's no time like pizza time (photo via C&V)
C&V: You strike me as someone who’s quite sure of herself from a young age – after winning a Prix scholarship you chose to stay back to train at North Carolina, and you deferred joining the ABT to finish high school. It takes a certain amount of faith in yourself to say, hold up, I think maybe this approach would be better for me as opposed to jumping headfirst into every opportunity.
Gillian Murphy: I think I’ve always had a fair amount of confidence. But I’ve also always had a sense of priorities
In the case of choosing to go to North Carolina School of Arts for my final year, it was a priority for me to be in an environment I loved with my friends and a teacher who was phenomenal, who was looking out for me and helping me. It wasn’t so much that I didn’t want to go to one of the more famous schools of the world. I knew NCSA was the best place for me.
In terms of asking ABT if I could join a few months later and graduate from high school, I just felt strongly that I needed a high school diploma.
So I guess it wasn’t confidence – maybe a little bit! I think I was confident that if they wouldn’t agree to that then I could dance in another company, even if it was a smaller company. But it was that important to me to graduate from high school.
I think you need a certain level of confidence to get out there and perform but every dancer also has his or her share of insecurities.
They're all gonna be great turners someday. Well, except that munchkin on the left. (photo Heather Donlan Photography)
Not all of us are born with Gillian Murphy's innate turning ability. But if you're having trouble with your pirouettes, try this neat trick: Smile while you're turning.
Easy peasy, right? Here's why it works:
First, many dancers frown in concentration as they turn, especially if they're struggling. But that stiffens the muscles in your neck and jaw, which makes spotting nearly impossible—and, in turn (hah! see what I did there?), clean pirouettes difficult. Smiling will relax your face, allowing you to spot more naturally.
But there's another advantage to putting on a happy face. A recent study showed that tension in the jaw was often connected to tension in the hips and pelvis. So relaxing your jaw will also loosen up your hip joints, creating more space for rotation and making for a cleaner, better-balanced passé.
So, remember when New York City Ballet honored designer Valentino at a big gala that was attended by a gazillion movie stars, and it was awesome?
Well, American Ballet Theatre just announced the details of its Metropolitan Opera House gala this May, and it sounds like it's going to be equally glittery. Yay!
Providing the high-fashion connection is Christian Dior Couture, which is sponsoring ABT's gala. No word yet on whether or not that'll involve designing costumes for the ballets performed, but hey, at the least our favorite ballerinas will probably be decked out in some gorgeous Dior gowns at the dinner afterwards.
And what high-wattage stars will be attending? Honorary chairs Caroline Kennedy and Blaine Trump, for starters. But take a look at this honorary committee list: Kim Cattrall, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Stacy Keibler, Lea Michele, Kelly Rutherford, Zoë Saldaña, Ashlee Simpson, Aaron Sorkin, Stephanie Szostak and Uma Thurman. Straight A-list.
Finally, of course, there are the stars us nerds care about most: the company's principal dancers! And the gala cast list is enough to make your knees weak: Roberto Bolle, Herman Cornejo, Irina Dvorovenko, Marcelo Gomes, David Hallberg, Paloma Herrera, Julie Kent, Gillian Murphy, Natalia Osipova, Veronika Part, Xiomara Reyes, Polina Semionova, Hee Seo, Daniil Simkin, Cory Stearns, Ivan Vasiliev and Diana Vishneva. We haven't heard what they'll be dancing yet, but frankly even if they all just came out and stood next to each other onstage we'd be happy.
See you on the red carpet on May 13! Or, uh, no, we probably won't be walking the red carpet. But we'll definitely be stalking it. Close enough!