Make a list of the best ballet companies in the world, and I'm going to take a wild guess you put American Ballet Theatre at, or close to, the top. And of course you did—for the last 75 years, the company has helped define what American ballet is, and where it's going. Photos of its company members line all of our childhood bedroom walls; I still gasp when I see one of its stars in real life.
(From left) ABT principals Hee Seo and Cory Stearns in rehearsal with soloist Joseph Gorak (George Seminara, courtesy PBS)
This season marks ABT's 75th anniversary, and PBS—the TV station that recently brought Mark Morris Dance Group and the School of American Ballet to our living rooms—will help commemorate the occasion with another gem on its lineup: "American Ballet Theatre: A History," part of the "American Masters" documentary series, will premiere on May 15.
Famed filmmaker Ric Burns is at the helm of the project, which actually started way back in 2006. Burns was given unprecedented access to the company's inner workings, capturing hours and hours of footage, including rehearsals, performances and interviews. The documentary captures ABT stars in action—like Julie Kent, Gillian Murphy, Misty Copeland, Marcelo Gomes, Hee Seo, Isabella Boylston, Herman Cornejo, Daniil Simkin, Joseph Gorak and Cory Stearns. There's also rare footage of Mikhail Baryshnikov, Antony Tudor, Jerome Robbins and Agnes deMille. Seriously—you don't want to miss this!
(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.