5 Things We Learned from “city.ballet.” Season 2, Episode 5

Season 2 of “city.ballet.”—the AOL On series that gives an insider’s look at New York City Ballet—is live now! We’re recapping one episode per week. Watch all 12 at dancemagazine.com.

I've always worshipped ballet masters. They're the unsung heroes of ballet companies, the artists—nearly all former dancers—who spend countless hours making sure each and every piece is ready for the stage. Episode 5 takes a look at some of New York City Ballet's ballet masters, the keepers of the flame. Here are five things we learned from the ep.

Ballet master Jean-Pierre Frohlich works with principal Sterling Hyltin (photo by Paul Kolnik, courtesy NYCB)

1) Ballet masters have...a certain way with words. "This is casual. You're just walking over to Bergdorf's." "Welcome to Buffalo! Here are my chicken wings." "You have to do kitty-cat hands over to the muffin head."

2) And an equally impressive repertoire of noises. "Step, WOMP, step, WOMP." "Aaaand dah dah dah DUM."

3) Being a ballet master involves a sort of heroic self-abnegation. Yes, ballet masters are incredibly precious: They have all the knowledge of these ballets. They hold the keys. But their goal isn't to impose their own vision of the work on the dancers; it's to give them the tools they need to develop their own interpretation. "When you teach a role, you want the dancers to be 110 percent themselves," says Darci Kistler.

Darci Kistler watches rehearsal (still from "city.ballet." courtesy NYCB)

4) That said, teaching a ballet isn't just about teaching steps. Or not for every ballet master, anyway. While Kistler is more of a a steps-and-music-only person, for Jean-Pierre Frohlich, there's "absolutely another layer" to the process. "It's important for dancers to visualize," he says. "Think of the sun on your shoulders. Think of the water. Think of the air."

5) In the end, ballet masters feel like proud parents. "I love seeing when a dancer thrives onstage," says Kathleen Tracey. "You just get this flood of joy. You can take some pride in yourself and say, Hey, I helped with that...a little bit!"

Click the image below to watch the full episode!

Dance News
(From left) Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland (all photos by Erin Baiano)

Congratulations to Dance Spirit's 2019 Cover Model Search finalists: Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland! One of them will win a spot on Dance Spirit's Fall 2019 cover. Learn more about the dancers on their profile pages, and then vote for your favorite below. You can vote once a day now through July 15.

We also want you to get social! We'll be factoring social media likes and shares into our final tallies. Be sure to show your favorite finalist some love on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, sharing their profile pages and using the hashtag #DanceSpiritCMS.

Cover Model Search
Photo by Erin Baiano

Imagine attending American Ballet Theatre's prestigious NYC summer intensive, training among classical ballet legends. Imagine taking the stage at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals, competing against some of the country's best contemporary dancers. Now, imagine doing both—at the same time.

Welcome to Madison Brown's world. This summer, she's in her third year as a National Training Scholar with ABT, while also competing for NYCDA's Teen Outstanding Dancer title. (She's already won Outstanding Dancer in the Mini and Junior categories.) The logistics are complicated—ABT's five-week intensive overlaps with the weeklong NYCDA Nationals, which translates to a lot of cabs back and forth across Manhattan—but Maddie is committed to making the most of each opportunity. "I love contemporary and ballet equally," she says. "While I'm able to do both, I want to do as much as I can."

Maddie has an expressive face, endless extensions, and a quiet command of the stage. She dances with remarkable maturity—a trait noted by none other than Jennifer Lopez, one of the judges on NBC's "World of Dance," on which Maddie competed in Season 2. Although Maddie didn't take home the show's top prize, she was proud to be the youngest remaining soloist when she was eliminated, and saw the whole experience as an opportunity to grow. After all, she's just getting started. Oh, that's right—did we mention Maddie's only 14?

Keep Reading Show less
Cover Story
Corbin Bleu in rehearsal for "Kiss Me, Kate" (Jenny Anderson, courtesy Roundabout Theatre Company)

If you're a hardcore Broadway baby, today is the worst Sunday of the year. Why, you ask? The Tony Awards were last Sunday, so basically there's nothing to look forward to in life anymore—no James Corden being James Corden, no teary acceptance speeches from newly minted stars, no thrilling excerpts from the hottest new shows. Oh yeah, and there are 50 more Sundays to go before our humdrum lives are once again blessed with the next annual iteration of Broadway's biggest night.

Keep Reading Show less
Musical Theater



Get Dance Spirit in your inbox