Pacific Northwest Ballet recently broadcast one of its summer course's advanced level pointe classes, and the whole video is crazy #goals. Each exercise is executed with beautiful precision by the elite group of students, and instructor Marissa Albee (a former PNB Soloist) provides detailed insight with each correction. What's even more inspiring is the fact that the footage was taken only a couple of days ago. Summer may be coming to a close, but these dancers are still hard at work perfecting their craft.
When it comes to the West Coast, it's easy to see why L.A. often steals the show—flashy classes, performances and companies, all under the captivating Hollywood lights? It's a dance lover's dream. But the West also offers tons of other strong dance communities, and they're worth knowing. Packed with everything from renowned ballet companies to boundary-pushing contemporary groups, here are the non-L.A. dance hubs that should be on your radar.
Pacific Northwest Ballet principal Noelani Pantastico is famous for her passionate stage presence and strong, powerful technique. Originally from Oahu, HI, Pantastico trained at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet and frequently attended summer courses at PNB. In 1997, she joined PNB as an apprentice, and was promoted to principal in 2004. Four years later, she joined Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo as a soloist—but, in 2015, Pantastico headed back home to PNB, and she's danced there ever since. Catch her in the company's June program, which features George Balanchine's La Source, Jerome Robbins' Opus 19 and Alexei Ratmansky's Pictures at an Exhibition. Read on for her letter!
The only thing I dislike about gorgeous ballerina Carla Körbes is that she doesn't live in NYC, where I could see her all the time. Yes, fine, the Pacific Northwest Ballet principal will be visiting the Big Apple next week, when PNB comes to New York City Center. But I think getting that little taste of her onstage is only going to make me miss her more once she heads back to Seattle.
That's why I was especially happy to stumble upon PASSAGE: Carla Körbes, Portrait of a Ballerina this morning. Directed by photographer Patrick Fraser, it's a glorious five-minute montage of slow-motion dance footage, showing off Carla's perfect technique in exquisite detail. Saut de chats, tour jetés and chaînes have never looked so poetic. (Also, her flowing locks are to die [dye?] for.)
Take a look!
I feel like we lost a part of our collective childhood yesterday when Maurice Sendak passed away. Who didn't grow up loving his slightly twisted, often hilarious, and always beautiful books?
While he was best known for Where the Wild Things Are and his other illustrated stories, Sendak contributed to the dance world, too. Today the L.A. Times remembers his set designs, which include the fantastical sets he made for Pacific Northwest Ballet's The Nutcracker in 1983. Apparently Sendak was initially hesitant about taking on the project—"Who in the world needed another Nutcracker?" he asked—but eventually he fell in love with the ballet. And thank goodness, because his designs are (predictably) wonderful. From the bold, graphic tree to the creature-like Nutcracker, they're just so Sendak. (When he saw them, New York City Ballet co-founder Lincoln Kirstein wrote to PNB: "I have seen the designs for your Nutcracker by Maurice Sendak. I thought they were absolutely magnificent and I was filled with a violent greed and envy.")
This video gives a sense of what the Nutcracker sets, which PNB still uses, look like in action. RIP, Mr. Sendak; thank you for sharing your world of wild things and wonder with us.
Bunheads, save the date: This Friday, January 27 at 5pm PST, Pacific Northwest Ballet will be live streaming a rehearsal of their upcoming production, Cendrillon. And, really, is there anything better than a behind-closed-doors live peek into the world of professional ballet?
Choreographed by Jean-Christophe Maillot, Cendrillon is a new take on the classic Cinderella, focusing more on Cinderella's parents and their relationship. It's just as magical as the original, though it does feature sparser sets and more modern, fantastical costumes.
And on PNB's website, Noelani Pantastico is heavily featured. So we're hoping, wishing and crossing all of our fingers for lots of stunning footage of the principal ballerina come Friday.
A Cendrillon rehearsal moment with Noelani Pantastico (photo by Lindsay Thomas)
Make sure to bookmark the PNB live stream page. Happy watching!
Carla Körbes is one of those rare ballerinas who transcend ordinary stardom, exuding a grace and delicateness that complement her powerful stage presence. When the Brazilian native announced her retirement from Pacific Northwest Ballet last year, hearts collectively broke. After training at the School of American Ballet, Körbes joined New York City Ballet as an apprentice in 1999 and was promoted to soloist in 2005. Later that year, she followed PNB artistic director and former NYCB dancer, Peter Boal, to Seattle; she joined the company as a soloist and was promoted to principal the next season. Currently, Körbes is the associate director of L.A. Dance Project and plans to perform at the Vail International Dance Festival in August. —Courtney Bowers
You fought through your audition nerves and earned admission to your dream summer program. You managed to pack all your dance necessities into two suitcases. You survived your tearful good-byes with Mom and Dad. You even broke the ice with your new roommate. It's time to relax and settle in for a great summer of dancing, right?
But if the results of your level-placement class are disappointing, you could be facing a whole new set of anxieties. What if you're placed too low—will you end up perfecting your tendus all summer? What if you feel like your level is way out of your league? What if you're separated from your friends? Here's how to conquer the mental challenges your level assignment might raise.