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.
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.
Those of us in NYC were lucky enough to catch Pacific Northwest Ballet in performance last week. I'm totally jealous of Seattle audiences right now, because this company is amazing!
I'm still recovering from the brilliant dancing in on the contemporary program, which included David Dawson's A Million Kisses to My Skin, William Forsythe's The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude and Crystal Pite's Emergence. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to see the company's all Balanchine program, which included Prodigal Son, Square Dance and Stravinsky Violin Concerto.
As usual, technology has the answer to my sorrows. This video of Leta Biasucci and Benjamin Griffiths makes you feel like you're standing in the wings during their performance of Square Dance. And what's even more mesmerizing than their stellar technique? The fact that they're obviously having an amazing time dancing together.
Ah, late summer. When family vacations make a mockery of your last few days of freedom. When every moment you share at the pool with your friends feels tinged with tragedy because you'll soon be stuck in a classroom. When you'd settle for endless stifling humidity if it meant never hearing your alarm go off at 6am, ever again.
Are you stressed yet? Well, you shouldn't be. Back-to-school doesn't have to be #theworst—think of all the ways you'll improve as a dancer this year! In honor of a little Friday zen chillout/back-to-school de-stressor, check out these two videos produced by Pacific Northwest Ballet.
Gabrielle and Jimena are two students who attended the PNB summer program this year. In true PNB fashion, the videos are dreamy and inspiring, and the dancers are beyond gorgeous.
Are you relaxed yet? Good.
Körbes in Swan Lake (photo by Angela Sterling, courtesy Pacific Northwest Ballet)
Carla Körbes’ Words of Wisdom
After an illustrious career at Pacific Northwest Ballet, ballerina Carla Körbes is leaving the company this June. But as sad as it is to say goodbye, the happy news is Körbes, who’s been a PNB principal since 2006, isn’t hanging up her pointe shoes yet. In fact, she’ll be performing as the artist in residence at Colorado’s Vail International Dance Festival next month.
Originally from Brazil, Körbes moved to the U.S. in the 1990s to study at the School of American Ballet in NYC. She became a New York City Ballet apprentice in 1999 and quickly joined the main company. Though she was promoted to soloist at NYCB in 2005, she moved across the country soon after to join PNB. Ten years later, on the eve of her retirement, Dance Spirit asked Körbes to reflect on what she wishes she’d known when she was starting out.
Taking time for self-praise makes you a better artist. Being self-critical perfectionists makes us better dancers. But if we only see ourselves in a negative way, our artistry will suffer. It’s crucial to recognize your talents and how far you’ve come.
There’s always more room for discovery. I grew up with very classical training, and until I was 14, I was only aware of story ballets. But at 15, when I moved to NYC and discovered Balanchine, my whole world turned upside-down. And once I joined PNB, my world got even larger as I was exposed to William Forsythe and Nacho Duato’s work. Recently, I was blown away by a Crystal Pite piece. I’ve been a dancer my entire life, and I still feel there’s so much to explore in the dance world.
Receiving criticism from teachers or ballet masters doesn’t mean you’re failing. Harsh words are sometimes meant as encouragement. But early in my career, I often took my director’s critiques too personally. I went from getting a job and being on top of the world to feeling insecure and ashamed of any weakness. Learn to use criticism as a constructive tool—it’ll help you stay positive and continue to work hard and improve. Otherwise, you’ll end up shutting down and stunting your growth as an artist.
Three other ballerinas are also taking their final bows: American Ballet Theatre principals Paloma Herrera, Julie Kent and Xiomara Reyes are retiring at the end of this season, too.
Paloma Herrera, who joined ABT’s corps de ballet in 1991, will give her final performance
as the title role in Giselle on May 27 (matinee).
Julie Kent, who joined ABT as an apprentice in 1985 and is the longest-standing ABT dancer in history, will give her farewell performance as Juliet in Romeo and Juliet on June 20.
Xiomara Reyes, who joined ABT as a soloist in 2001, will give her final performance on May 27 as Giselle.
The marketing department at Pacific Northwest Ballet has been going absolutely nuts, posting tons of photos of the company during their latest run of Swan Lake. And of course, we love it. Keep 'em coming, folks.
With beloved ballerina Carla Körbes retiring at the end of the season, this is the last Swan Lake she'll ever dance with the company. And I don't think I'm wrong when I say that everyone wants her perfection to last forever. I mean, just LOOK at this poster!
Carla Körbes as Odette in Kent Stowell's production of Swan Lake
So, it's no surprise that this run of Swan Lake is extra special. But while Körbes might be the epitome of white swan elegance, there are other members of the company ready to help make the ballet shine. I love Swan Lake because the corps, soloists and principals all have important, memorable roles.
The corps de ballet forms the backbone of every classical ballet (and many neo-classical ones too), and the flock of white swans is one of the reasons that Swan Lake is everyone's favorite.
PNB dancers in rehearsal (photo by Lindsay Thomas)
PNB's Swan Lake tutus were designed by Paul Tazewell. (Photo by Angela Sterling)
And as much as we love the corps, we also live for those iconic Odette/Odile moments. PNB principal Lesley Rausch has that dichotomy dialed.
The Icon (Lesley Rausch, photo by Angela Sterling)
The Temptress (Lesley Rausch and Batkhurel Bold, photo by Angela Sterling)
The heartbreak (Lesley Rausch & Batkhurel Bold, photo by Angela Sterling)
And there you have it. #swanlake4life
In a battle of East Coast vs. West Coast, who reigns supreme? For many Americans, the answer to this question came on February 1, when the New England Patriots (#teameast) defeated the Seattle Seahawks (#teamwest) in Superbowl XLIX. But the dancers among us were not so sure.
Earlier this week, we raved about Pacific Northwest Ballet's triumphant manège to Boston, the outcome of a Superbowl bet with Boston Ballet. PNB artistic director Peter Boal laid down the smack talk, claiming his dancers' superiority in all things feet, turns and jumps. He had us wondering: Is West Coast really the best coast? The plot thickens...
Bostonians are nothing if not tough (I mean, what other city could handle the crazy winter they've been having?), and Boston Ballet didn't let PNB have the last word. A handful of BB dancers filmed themselves dancing to same song (Dropkick Murphys' "I'm Shipping Up to Boston"). There's no smack talk and no fancy graphics. It's just one take of raw Bostonian awesomeness.
We're calling a tie here, folks. 'Tis the season of love, after all, and we LOVE BB and PNB.