All eyes will be on principal dancer Melody Herrera on Feb. 26, the opening night of Houston Ballet’s full-length rendition of Marie. Choreographed and directed by Stanton Welch, this classical ballet captures the essence of the notorious Queen Marie Antoinette. Here, Herrera spills about this must-see ballet. —Lauren Levinson
DS: How are you learning about Marie Antoinette?
Melody Herrera: I’ve read biographies, watched movies and looked at drawings. The country depicted her as a monster for being a selfish, extravagant spender, but I’ve found she was a charming person and a caring mother. I think she was naïve, living in a bubble in Versailles.
DS: What’s been challenging about this process?
MH: The controversies that surrounded her! She’s been called the first real victim of bad press. It’s hard to know what was true.
DS: Do you relate to her?
MH: I sympathize with her. She arrived alone to a country at age 14 and felt isolated. Young dancers can connect to that because we move away to take on professional careers.
DS: How has it been working with Stanton Welch?
MH: Wonderful. I understand his direction and relate to his musicality really well.
DS: What’s it like having a ballet created on you?
MH: It’s like having tailor-made clothing. I feel free to take chances.
DS: What’s a fun scene?
MH: There’s a food fight onstage!
DS: Favorite costume?
MH: I love this flowy, off-white dress with embroidered flowers and a blue sash. I would get married in this dress!
(From left) Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland (all photos by Erin Baiano)
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.
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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?
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.