Left: Misa Kuranaga in The Veritginous Thrill of Exactitude. Gene Schiavone, Courtesy Boston Ballet. Right: Sasha Mukhamedov in Apollo. Altin Kaftira, Courtesy Dutch National Ballet.

San Francisco Ballet just announced some major news: longtime Boston Ballet star Misa Kuranaga will be joining the company as a principal dancer for the 2019-20 season, while Dutch National Ballet principal Sasha Mukhamedov will join as a soloist. They join a slew of newly promoted SFB principals and soloists, announced earlier this year.

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Sage Humphries rehearsing "White" (Brooke Trisolini, courtesy Boston Ballet)

It's been an eventful few months for Sage Humphries, to say the least. Last November, the Boston Ballet company member made her (very well-received) choreographic debut with a piece called YOU, part of the company's BB@home: ChoreograpHER program. Just one week later, Humphries sustained an injury that kept her offstage for a couple of months. But she didn't have much downtime: Artistic director Mikko Nissinen soon asked Humphries to make a piece for Boston Ballet's first-ever appearance at Boston Calling Music Festival. Now that Humphries is back in the studio, Dance Spirit caught up with her to talk about making ballet rock, working with her composer brother, and what it's like to see her name next to William Forsythe's.

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Choreography
Courtesy Boston Calling

Twenty One Pilots, Janelle Monáe, Tame Impala, Boston Ballet.

One of these things is not like the others.

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Ballet

There's no question that life as a dancer can be difficult—long hours, rigorous rehearsals, and the risk of rejection and injury can take a toll. But dancing also gives us so much to be thankful for! In honor of Thanksgiving, we asked nine dancers to share what they're most grateful for this year. From overcoming adversity to new artistic opportunities to growing families, these artists have a lot to celebrate.

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Dancer to Dancer
A still from the new documentary, DANSEUR. Image courtesy DANSEUR

According to the new documentary DANSEUR, 85% of males who study dance in the United States are bullied or harassed. A quote in the film from Dr. Doug Risner, faculty member at Wayne State University, states, "If this scope of bullying occurred in any activity other than dance, it would be considered a public health crisis by the CDC."

So why is it allowed to persist in ballet? And why aren't we talking about it more? These are the questions that DANSEUR seeks to answer. But primarily consisting of dance footage and interviews with male dancers like ABT's James Whiteside, Houston Ballet's Harper Watters and Boston Ballet's Derek Dunn, the film only addresses these issues superficially, with anecdotes about individual experiences and generalizations about what it's like to be a male dancer.

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Dancer to Dancer
Ashley Ellis in Mikko Nissinen's The Nutcracker (photo by Liza Voll, courtesy Boston Ballet)

Boston Ballet principal Ashley Ellis' dancing is the perfect pairing of ethereal grace and punchy musicality. The Torrance, CA, native began training at South Bay Ballet at age 6, and attended the School of American Ballet summer program in 1998. In 2001, she was accepted into American Ballet Theatre's Studio Company, and the following year, she joined ABT's corps de ballet. In 2007, she became a founding member of Corella Ballet Castilla y León in Spain, under the direction of Angel Corella. Three years later, she headed back to the States and danced with Sarasota Ballet before joining Boston Ballet as a second soloist in 2011. In 2013, she was promoted to principal dancer. Catch her performing this season in the company's Nutcracker. —Courtney Bowers

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Dancer to Dancer
Boston Ballet principal Lia Cirio at age 15 in class at the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet summer intensive (photo by Rosalie O'Connor, courtesy Cirio)

It's hard to believe that summer intensive season is almost over! We hope you're learning, growing, having fun and making memories at your intensives this year.

Today, we're sharing seven dancers' favorite summer intensive memories.

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Dancer to Dancer
Photo by Jayme Thornton

Ballerina Whitney Jensen's incredible lines and extraordinary grace have captivated audiences around the world. At 10, Jensen won the silver medal at the Youth America Grand Prix NYC finals, and at age 16, she was the first American to win the highest possible distinction at the Varna International Ballet Competition. Jensen started dancing in Salt Lake City, UT, at The Dance Club, followed by The Jacqueline College School of Classical Ballet and Ballet West Academy. When she was 11 and 12, she performed as Clara in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular in NYC, and, after, moved to the Big Apple to train full-time at Valentina Kozlova's Dance Conservatory of New York. She joined Boston Ballet in 2009 and became one of the company's youngest principals in 2014. In 2015, Jensen took a short break from ballet before accepting an offer with the Norwegian National Ballet, where she's currently a soloist. —Courtney Bowers

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Dancer to Dancer
Bucharest National Ballet's 2013 trailer for "La Sylphide,' via YouTube

Few things are more powerful for promoting ballet performances than captivating trailers—especially in today's visually-focused, digitally-connected world.

We've rounded up some eye-catching ads from seasons past and present that not only make us wish we could have seen the show, but also stand alone as short films.

Bucharest National Opera's La Sylphide

Magnifying the scarf which—spoiler alert—brings about the ballet's tragic conclusion, this 2013 Bucharest National Opera's trailer turns that fateful fabric into a beautiful, deadly web. Its windswept movements form a dance of its own.

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Just for Fun
Addie Tapp in Jorma Elo's Creatures of Egmont (photo by IGOP Photography, courtesy Boston Ballet)

Boston Ballet second soloist Addie Tapp immediately stands out onstage thanks to her impressively long lines, precise technique, and mature presence. A Glenwood Springs, CO, native, Tapp started dancing at age 6 at the Glenwood Dance Academy. At 14, she attended The School of American Ballet summer course, and afterwards was accepted into the year-round program. She joined Boston Ballet's corps in 2014, and was promoted to second soloist last year. Catch her dancing this month in the company's Parts In Suite program and Romeo & Juliet.

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Dancer to Dancer
Boston Ballet principal Lia Cirio in Mikko Nissinen's The Nutcracker (photo by Rosalie O'Connor, courtesy Boston Ballet)

It was Valentine's Day when then–16-year-old Lia Cirio auditioned for Boston Ballet—and was hired on the spot. Every year since, Cirio has celebrated February 14th as not only a day for teddy bears and chocolates, but also as the day she became a professional ballet dancer.

Now, Cirio is a principal at the company, and she knows firsthand that it takes more than a solid supply of pointe shoes (though she can go through 30 pairs in a week!) to survive the ballet world. From the glowing highlights to the frustrating letdowns, Cirio shares what it's really like to be a principal dancer in a world-class ballet company.

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Dancer to Dancer
George Birkadze is a ballet dancer and a professional martial arts fighter (courtesy Great Big Story)

George Birkadze spends some of his mornings as a guest teacher at Boston Ballet. But this ballet dancer and choreographer also spends much of his time training as a professional martial arts fighter. In fact, Birkadze has a black belt in not one but three different styles including Brazilian jiu-jitsu, judo, and Kyokushin karate. (He's like a ballet ninja!)

Though martial arts and ballet may seem extremely different, Birkadze says the two actually share more similarities than you might think. Both require discipline, dedication, and daily training. In fact, Birkadze credits ballet for having helped him improve as a martial artist.

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Dance News

Lani Dickinson's power, grace, and raw presence make her a standout with AXIS Dance Company, whose mission is to change the face of dance and disability by featuring a mix of disabled and non-disabled performers. Born in China, Dickinson was adopted by an American couple and started dancing at 8 in Towson, MD. She attended the Boston Ballet School for two summers, studied at the Idyllwild Arts Academy for the last two years of high school, and graduated with a dance degree from Alonzo King LINES Ballet's BFA program with Dominican University of California. In 2015, she joined AXIS and won a Princess Grace Award. Catch her this month during AXIS Dance Company's 30th-anniversary season—and read on for The Dirt!

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Dancer to Dancer
The multitalented Merritt Moore (photo by James Glader, courtesy Moore)

For the past decade, Merritt Moore has been living a double life as both a professional ballerina and a quantum physicist. While dancing with Zurich Ballet and Boston Ballet, she received her undergrad degree from Harvard in physics, and she's currently pursuing a PhD in quantum physics at Oxford while performing with English National Ballet and London Contemporary Ballet.

Now, Moore is hoping to add another ball to her juggling act: becoming an astronaut. She's one of 12 contestants competing on the BBC reality show " Astronauts: Do You Have What It Takes?" For six weeks, Moore and her competitors face a series of demanding physical and psychological challenges to see if they're astronaut material. (Show mentor Chris Hadfield, former Commander of the International Space Station, will recommend the winner to space agencies recruiting for astronauts.) Even in a cast of extremely accomplished people—the contestants include a military pilot, a surgeon, and a dentist who has summited Mount EverestMoore's unusual combination of skills stands out.

We leveled with the renaissance woman about how she's managed to pursue all her different passions.

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Dancer to Dancer
The multitalented Merritt Moore (photo by James Glader, courtesy Moore)

For the past decade, Merritt Moore has been living a double life as both a professional ballerina and a quantum physicist. While dancing with Zurich Ballet and Boston Ballet, she received her undergrad degree from Harvard in physics, and she's currently pursuing a PhD in quantum physics at Oxford while performing with English National Ballet and London Contemporary Ballet.

Now, Moore is hoping to add another ball to her juggling act: becoming an astronaut. She's one of 12 contestants competing on the BBC reality show " Astronauts: Do You Have What It Takes?" For six weeks, Moore and her competitors face a series of demanding physical and psychological challenges to see if they're astronaut material. (Show mentor Chris Hadfield, former Commander of the International Space Station, will recommend the winner to space agencies recruiting for astronauts.) Even in a cast of extremely accomplished people—the contestants include a military pilot, a surgeon, and a dentist who has summited Mount EverestMoore's unusual combination of skills stands out.

We leveled with the renaissance woman about how she's managed to pursue all her different passions.

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Just for Fun

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