Seeing Stars

In the last few years, Daniel Ulbricht has been pretty busy. In addition to his work as principal dancer at New York City Ballet, his pickup company, Stars of American Ballet, has toured internationally since 2013. This summer, the group will make its debut at the historic Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in a program called Ballet 2014. Ten dancers will perform both classic ballets (like Jerome Robbins’ Fancy Free) and more contemporary work, by choreographers Christopher Wheeldon and Benjamin Millepied. Ulbricht has also commissioned a new pas de deux from rising choreographic star Emery LeCrone. The duet features NYCB corps members Russell Janzen and Emily Kikta. DS spoke with Kikta to get the inside scoop.

Dance Spirit: How would you describe the pas de deux?

Emily Kikta: It’s very romantic. The music is a Rachmaninoff cello sonata. It’s on pointe, but not too classical. Emery’s movement is so natural and expressive.

DS: It must be exhausting to have extra rehearsals on top of your full schedule with NYCB. Do you have any free time?

EK: Luckily, Emery works very quickly, and we knocked out a lot of the piece in one rehearsal. Since then, Russell and I have been finding time to rehearse ourselves—sometimes in the morning before class, or at night when we aren’t performing. So I do have a tiny bit of free time.

Emily Kikta in "Rubies" from George Balanchine's Jewels
(photo by Paul Kolnik)

DS: What would you say is the best part about performing in Ballet 2014?

EK: Since I’m in the corps at NYCB, I’m usually only featured in solo roles. I haven’t really performed a true pas de deux yet. Plus, Daniel’s team of dancers is so amazing. To be in a group with them is such an honor—I feel like I’m not worthy!

DS: What’s most exciting about Ballet 2014?

EK: The program will show how versatile ballet dancers can be. One small group of people is doing both classical and contemporary work—work that’s hard, romantic and energetic.

Jacob’s Pillow is also such a cool venue. There’ll be so many other artists and companies there—it’s a whole culture. It’s actually going to be my first time performing there. I can’t wait.

(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

In our "Dear Katie" series, Miami City Ballet soloist Kathryn Morgan answers your pressing dance questions. Have something you want to ask Katie? Email for a chance to be featured!

Dear Katie,

When I sit with the soles of my feet together, my knees easily touch the floor, and most exercises to improve turnout are easy for me. But when I'm actually dancing, my turnout is terrible, especially on my standing leg. Why doesn't my flexibility translate to turnout?


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Dear Katie
Via Twitter

Would that we could all live in Taylor Swift's Pride-topia, booty-popping with Todrick Hall and sharing snow cones with Adam Rippon in our rainbow-flag-bedecked RV park. But much as we're loving "You Need to Calm Down" and other similarly upbeat celebrations of Pride month, this is also a time to recognize the battles the members of the LGBTQIA+ community have fought—and are still fighting. That's one of the reasons why "I'm Gay," a new dance video by Eugene Lee Yang of The Try Guys, is so important.

The dark, deeply personal video is Yang's coming-out moment. We see Yang being rejected by his family, condemned by a preacher, and attacked by a hostile mob after attempting to express himself as a gay man. Though not a professional dancer (as we found out in "The Try Guys Try Ballet"), Yang is a gifted mover; he choreographed the project himself, and gathered a group of talented performers to bring the story to life.

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