Alonzo King LINES Ballet's Madeline DeVries can move with both liquid grace and razor-sharp precision. A Southern California native, DeVries grew up training at the Santa Clarita Ballet Academy in Canyon Country, CA. She later studied at the Pacific Northwest Ballet School's professional division on full scholarship, and spent summers training with Houston Ballet, The Rock School, and The National Ballet of Canada. In 2012, DeVries moved to Germany to become an apprentice with Dresden Semperoper Ballett. She returned to the States in 2013, and danced with Whim W'Him and Coriolis in Seattle before joining LINES Ballet in 2014. Catch her performing during the company's home season this month in San Francisco, CA—and read on for The Dirt!
Pacific Northwest Ballet recently broadcast one of its summer course's advanced level pointe classes, and the whole video is crazy #goals. Each exercise is executed with beautiful precision by the elite group of students, and instructor Marissa Albee (a former PNB Soloist) provides detailed insight with each correction. What's even more inspiring is the fact that the footage was taken only a couple of days ago. Summer may be coming to a close, but these dancers are still hard at work perfecting their craft.
Carla Körbes is one of those rare ballerinas who transcend ordinary stardom, exuding a grace and delicateness that complement her powerful stage presence. When the Brazilian native announced her retirement from Pacific Northwest Ballet last year, hearts collectively broke. After training at the School of American Ballet, Körbes joined New York City Ballet as an apprentice in 1999 and was promoted to soloist in 2005. Later that year, she followed PNB artistic director and former NYCB dancer, Peter Boal, to Seattle; she joined the company as a soloist and was promoted to principal the next season. Currently, Körbes is the associate director of L.A. Dance Project and plans to perform at the Vail International Dance Festival in August. —Courtney Bowers
You fought through your audition nerves and earned admission to your dream summer program. You managed to pack all your dance necessities into two suitcases. You survived your tearful good-byes with Mom and Dad. You even broke the ice with your new roommate. It's time to relax and settle in for a great summer of dancing, right?
But if the results of your level-placement class are disappointing, you could be facing a whole new set of anxieties. What if you're placed too low—will you end up perfecting your tendus all summer? What if you feel like your level is way out of your league? What if you're separated from your friends? Here's how to conquer the mental challenges your level assignment might raise.
Those of us in NYC were lucky enough to catch Pacific Northwest Ballet in performance last week. I'm totally jealous of Seattle audiences right now, because this company is amazing!
I'm still recovering from the brilliant dancing in on the contemporary program, which included David Dawson's A Million Kisses to My Skin, William Forsythe's The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude and Crystal Pite's Emergence. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to see the company's all Balanchine program, which included Prodigal Son, Square Dance and Stravinsky Violin Concerto.
As usual, technology has the answer to my sorrows. This video of Leta Biasucci and Benjamin Griffiths makes you feel like you're standing in the wings during their performance of Square Dance. And what's even more mesmerizing than their stellar technique? The fact that they're obviously having an amazing time dancing together.
Ah, late summer. When family vacations make a mockery of your last few days of freedom. When every moment you share at the pool with your friends feels tinged with tragedy because you'll soon be stuck in a classroom. When you'd settle for endless stifling humidity if it meant never hearing your alarm go off at 6am, ever again.
Are you stressed yet? Well, you shouldn't be. Back-to-school doesn't have to be #theworst—think of all the ways you'll improve as a dancer this year! In honor of a little Friday zen chillout/back-to-school de-stressor, check out these two videos produced by Pacific Northwest Ballet.
Gabrielle and Jimena are two students who attended the PNB summer program this year. In true PNB fashion, the videos are dreamy and inspiring, and the dancers are beyond gorgeous.
Are you relaxed yet? Good.
Körbes in Swan Lake (photo by Angela Sterling, courtesy Pacific Northwest Ballet)
Carla Körbes’ Words of Wisdom
After an illustrious career at Pacific Northwest Ballet, ballerina Carla Körbes is leaving the company this June. But as sad as it is to say goodbye, the happy news is Körbes, who’s been a PNB principal since 2006, isn’t hanging up her pointe shoes yet. In fact, she’ll be performing as the artist in residence at Colorado’s Vail International Dance Festival next month.
Originally from Brazil, Körbes moved to the U.S. in the 1990s to study at the School of American Ballet in NYC. She became a New York City Ballet apprentice in 1999 and quickly joined the main company. Though she was promoted to soloist at NYCB in 2005, she moved across the country soon after to join PNB. Ten years later, on the eve of her retirement, Dance Spirit asked Körbes to reflect on what she wishes she’d known when she was starting out.
Taking time for self-praise makes you a better artist. Being self-critical perfectionists makes us better dancers. But if we only see ourselves in a negative way, our artistry will suffer. It’s crucial to recognize your talents and how far you’ve come.
There’s always more room for discovery. I grew up with very classical training, and until I was 14, I was only aware of story ballets. But at 15, when I moved to NYC and discovered Balanchine, my whole world turned upside-down. And once I joined PNB, my world got even larger as I was exposed to William Forsythe and Nacho Duato’s work. Recently, I was blown away by a Crystal Pite piece. I’ve been a dancer my entire life, and I still feel there’s so much to explore in the dance world.
Receiving criticism from teachers or ballet masters doesn’t mean you’re failing. Harsh words are sometimes meant as encouragement. But early in my career, I often took my director’s critiques too personally. I went from getting a job and being on top of the world to feeling insecure and ashamed of any weakness. Learn to use criticism as a constructive tool—it’ll help you stay positive and continue to work hard and improve. Otherwise, you’ll end up shutting down and stunting your growth as an artist.
Three other ballerinas are also taking their final bows: American Ballet Theatre principals Paloma Herrera, Julie Kent and Xiomara Reyes are retiring at the end of this season, too.
Paloma Herrera, who joined ABT’s corps de ballet in 1991, will give her final performance
as the title role in Giselle on May 27 (matinee).
Julie Kent, who joined ABT as an apprentice in 1985 and is the longest-standing ABT dancer in history, will give her farewell performance as Juliet in Romeo and Juliet on June 20.
Xiomara Reyes, who joined ABT as a soloist in 2001, will give her final performance on May 27 as Giselle.