The Big, Bold Bolshoi Ballet
The Russians are coming! The Russians are coming!
Actually, they're already here: Moscow's famous Bolshoi Ballet has arrived in NYC for more than two weeks of performances.
"Bolshoi" literally translates to "big"—which is perfect, because this company doesn't do anything small. They've brought three huge productions with them to the Big Apple: classics Swan Lake and Don Quixote, and an over-the-top man-candy festival known as Spartacus.
It's a chance for New Yorkers to see ginormous stars, especially the world-renowned Svetlana Zakharova.
Zakharova being her usual unreal self in Don Quixote (photo by Gene Schiavone)
We'll also finally witness Zakharova's much-talked-about partnership with David Hallberg, the American Ballet Theatre star who's made the Bolshoi his second home.
High drama: Hallberg and Zakharova in Swan Lake (photo by Damir Yusupov)
And we'll get a good look at up-and-comers like gorgeous Olga Smirnova, who at just 22 has already earned thousands of rabidly devoted fans.
Classical perfection: Smirnova in "Diamonds" from Jewels (photo by Damir Yusupov)
Time for some real talk: The past couple of years haven't been so great for the Bolshoi. Early in 2013, director Sergei Filin was attacked by a masked man who threw acid on his face, leaving Filin nearly blind. The resulting investigation revealed a lot of disturbing—sometimes downright scary—information about Bolshoi politics.
But Filin, who after many surgeries has regained some of his eyesight, is back at the Bolshoi's helm. (He was even a judge at the Youth America Grand Prix finals this spring.) And it's a good sign that most of the press the group has been getting recently concerns dancing, rather than scandal. Here's hoping that the company's ugliest moments are past—so we can get back to obsessing about its truly fantastic artists.
The Bolshoi Ballet performs through July 27 at Lincoln Center. Click here to learn more!
Harper Watters is a ballet dancer for today's generation. A social media maestro and a charismatic performer, the Houston Ballet soloist is equally at home in front of the camera hosting his hit YouTube series, "The Pre Show"; interacting with fans on his crazy-popular Instagram account; or showing off his beautiful classical technique onstage. It's a multifaceted identity that's proven to be invaluable to his career—and it's taking him to places he never even dreamed of.
Getting corrections from our dance instructors is how we grow, and as students, it's important that we do our best to apply every correction right away. But sometimes—whether it's because we're in physical pain, or have a lot on our minds, or are just not paying attention—those corrections don't sink in. And from a teacher's standpoint, giving the same corrections time and time again gets old very fast. Here are 10 important corrections dance teachers are tired of giving. Take them to heart!
The dancers who take our breath away are the risk-takers, the ones who appear completely fearless onstage. "When you see somebody trying to travel more, go farther, push the limits of their physical abilities, that's always going to be inspiring," says Ballet BC dancer Alexis Fletcher.
But dance training can feel like it's in conflict with that idea. We spend thousands of hours in the studio trying to do steps perfectly, and that pursuit of perfection can make us anxious about taking risks. What if we fail? What if we fall?
Luckily, fearlessness is a mental skill that you can work on, just as you work on your technique. Here's how you can learn to push yourself past your limits.
When we think of a dancer who's broken barriers, American Ballet Theatre principal Misty Copeland tends to be the name that comes to mind. And though Copeland has been a crucial advocate for equality in the world of ballet, Raven Wilkinson—a mentor of Copeland's—is considered one of the original pioneers of the movement.
In 1955, Wilkinson became the first African American to dance with the renowned Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. Her fortitude in the face of bigotry and hate cemented her legacy. Now, with the release of the new children's book Trailblazer: The Story of Ballerina Raven Wilkinson, a new generation of dancers will be inspired by her tale of overcoming obstacles to achieve a dream.
The book details Wilkinson's life, from her experience as a young dancer training in Harlem, to her run-ins with the Ku Klux Klan while on tour with Ballet Russe, to her later ballet career in Europe. "There were times where my heart really hurt because of the situations I had to deal with," she says. "But I always had faith that I was made to be a dancer and that I was gonna dance."
Dance Spirit spoke with Wilkinson to discuss the new book and get her take on racial equality within the ballet world.
Postmodern pioneer Trisha Brown redefined how dance is seen and felt. A founding member of Judson Dance Theater, Brown frequently collaborated with other experimental artists like Yvonne Rainer, Merce Cunningham, Twyla Tharp, and Steve Paxton.
She embraced pedestrian movement, pairing everyday gesture with rhythm and fluidity. "It's liquid," says Wendy Perron, who danced with Brown in the '60s and '70s. "Like a river with many tributaries, water coming out of a faucet, or being on a raft and seeing the water move away in different directions." Brown also pushed beyond stages with choreography in fields, museums—even on the sides of buildings.
There's a common misconception that a dancer's body has to be thin. But the truth is that talent knows no body type, and the number on the scale never determines an artist's capabilities. Here are some extraordinary dancers fighting the stereotype of what a dancer "should" look like.