Dance News

Quick, who's your favorite ballerina?

It's nearly impossible to choose just one. If I was forced to narrow my list down to my top five, I'd have to include Royal Ballet principal Lauren Cuthbertson.

Not only is she the absolute picture of English refinement and classicism, she's also one of the most down-to-earth ballerinas out there. And one look at her Instagram will convince you she's hilarious, too.

In Portrait of a Dancer, a new video by Andrew Margetson, we get to see Cuthbertson almost fully recovered from a devastating foot injury she sustained in 2014. On her Instagram, she notes that she'd only been back in pointe shoes for a week (!) when this film was made. There are a few, very slight, wobbles, in her dancing but you can see her strength shine through.

Oh, and we are LIVING for that balance at the very end. How's that for some weekend inspiration?

 

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Pick one, if you can: Fierce hip hoppers or poised ballet dancers. There's really no way to choose, is there? And this dance battle between Royal Ballet principal Steven McRae and ZooNation dancer Turbo doesn't really help.

Both companies perform a version of Alice in Wonderland at the Royal Opera House in London. The Royal Ballet does Christopher Wheeldon's massive Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, while ZooNation performs a hip-hop version called The Mad Hatter's Tea Party. Both feature a Mad Hatter, so naturally they needed to battle it out.

It's a bit cheesy, and clearly designed for a children's program, but that doesn't make it any less entertaining. Make sure you watch to the end, where the kids bust out there own (adorable) moves.

Big ballet news today! American Ballet Theatre just announced a transatlantic "dancer exchange."

OK, yes, when I first heard that, I started hyperventilating a little. Were any of my darling ABT people going to be, uh, "traded" to some European team?

But fear not: This exchange is for a few guest performances only, giving audiences on both sides of the Atlantic a taste of world-class dancers they may have never seen before.

Here's how it's going to go down:

This June, Royal Ballet principal dancer Steven McRae will perform as Lankendem in ABT's Le Corsaire, and this July, Royal Danish Ballet principal Alban Lendorf (he's AMAZING, guys) will dance Prince Désiré in ABT's Sleeping Beauty. That's round one.

Then for round two, in December, ABT will send principal Cory Stearns to the Royal Ballet and soloist Isabella Boylston (one of our favorites!) to the Royal Danish Ballet, to dance in their respective Nutcrackers.

Whew.

Anyway, sounds pretty nifty, right? And if you're not familiar with any of these great dancers, check out our slideshow below!

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Dance News

Yes, we love dance for its glamour. We love the tutus and the tiaras, the sets, the pageantry. We love the stage versions of our favorite dancers, transformed by lights and makeup and the distance of the fourth wall.

But we're also all about the real people behind those stage personae—the sweaty, bruised, blistered, strong, brilliant artists who work themselves to the bone every day. They're even more impressive than their be-tutued counterparts. They're warriors, and their dancer bodies have the battle scars to prove it.

Photographer Rick Guest totally gets that. His latest series, "What Lies Beneath," features stripped-down images of fantastic dancers from The Royal Ballet, English National Ballet, the Richard Alston Dance Company and Wayne McGregor's Random Dance. (To name just a few: Sarah Lamb. Marianela Nuñez. Sergei Polunin.) Stark lighting and minimal makeup and costuming mean that we see their remarkable bodies for what they really are: monuments to the never-ending struggle for perfection.

(From left) Marianela Nuñez and Eric Underwood of The Royal Ballet (Rick Guest, via)

(From left) Edward Watson and Sarah Lamb of The Royal Ballet (Rick Guest, via)

Guest's images are on display from January 22-31 at London's Hospital Club Gallery. But those of us who don't live across the pond can also find them in book form, complete with a foreword from English National Ballet director and principal Tamara Rojo.

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Christmas is now officially 364 days away, but it's never too early to start working on those wish lists for 2016! And the chance to see Sarah Lamb, a principal dancer with The Royal Ballet, perform Wayne McGregor's Woolf Works is already securely at the top of mine. Even if that doesn't happen, the dance gods have luckily gifted us with a little preview—Lamb appears in a new NOWNESS video, "Portrait of a Dancer," performing excerpts from Woolf Works. While nothing beats the stage, it's still amazing to watch Lamb's otherworldly movement quality and ethereal presence grace the camera. Lauren Cuthbertson, another stellar principal with The Royal Ballet, was also recently featured in this series, which focuses on the artists of the company—it's safe to say I'll be crossing my fingers for more! Check it out below.

Lamb as Juliet in Romeo and Juliet (photo by Johan Persson, courtesy Royal Opera House)

It’s hard to believe that Kenneth MacMillan’s iconic Romeo and Juliet turns 50

this year: It hasn’t aged a day! In fact, the production is still danced by many ballet companies around the world. To celebrate the work’s golden anniversary, The Royal Ballet—which debuted MacMillan’s Romeo (starring Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev) in 1965—is kicking off its fall season with the classic. But those who aren’t in London don’t have to miss out. The Royal Opera House’s Live Cinema Season, which broadcasts performances from Covent Garden to movie theaters around the globe, will playMacMillan’s Romeo and Juliet on September 22, featuring Royal Ballet principal Sarah Lamb as Juliet. Dance Spirit asked Lamb to talk a little about the role.

On her favorite scene: “The most wonderful part of the whole ballet is the music in Juliet’s death scene. I can’t figure out how Prokofiev was able to get inside Juliet’s mind, but he did! It’s incredible to be onstage backed up by a full orchestra that’s so closely describing your thoughts, feelings, fears and hopes.”

That time when stagecraft went wrong… “During one performance, the glass that holds Juliet’s poison had somehow cracked. So when I took a sip, a few chunks of broken glass dropped into my mouth. My eyes went so wide with fear and shock—though it probably looked really realistic. I didn’t know what to do! In MacMillan’s version, Juliet almost vomits after swallowing the poison, so I used that movement to spit out the glass.”

Dance News

Way back in 1949, Sadler's Wells Ballet (which later became The Royal) had its first North American tour. A ballerina named Margot Fonteyn was introduced to America, became an international star and changed the face of dance. Fortunately for us, there are photos and mementos from those early touring days to show us what it was like.

Thanks to a recent donation from Robert Dunn, a former musician in the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, the archivists at the ROH were able to show some ephemera from that tour. There are also items from the company's third North American tour in 1953. Nothing like calf liver on a brunch menu to really make you thankful for healthy dancer food nowadays, amirite?

Just look at these cool cats. (Photo via ROH archives, donated by Robert Dunn)

Btw, The Royal Ballet is touring the U.S. RIGHT NOW! The company hasn't graced us with its presence since 2009, so this summer tour is long-overdue. Indulge in some #throwback nostalgia, and then, if you can, get your tickets! The Royal has already hit Washington D.C., but Chicago and NYC audiences still have a chance to see the company.

Dance News

Margot Fonteyn in Swan Lake (Dance Magazine Archives)

On this day in 1919, a tiny Margaret Hookham was born in Reigate, England. Today, however, we know her as Dame Margot Fonteyn. Or Royal Ballet Prima Ballerina Assoluta Margot Fonteyn. Or simply one of the most timeless, most elegant, most famous ballerinas of the 20th Century.

Fonteyn first joined the Royal Ballet (then known as the Vic-Wells Ballet) in 1935, and by 1939, she was performing principal roles. She's perhaps most known for her partnership with Rudolf Nureyev, though their first performance wasn't until 1962, toward the end of Fonteyn's illustrious 40-year career.

Fonteyn died in 1991, but her legacy continues through the many ballets created on her (including the title role in Sir Frederick Ashton's Cinderella) and, of course, on YouTube. There aren't a ton of videos to get lost in, but a few clips are must-sees for any dancer.

Start with an excerpt of Fonteyn and Nureyev in Swan Lake:

Then watch the famous duo in a Le Corsaire pas de deux:

And finally, feast your eyes on Fonteyn and Nureyev in Les Sylphides:

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