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.
Most of us first met Jasmine Perry back in 2014, during her turn on Teen Vogue's web series "Strictly Ballet." At that point, Perry was a coltish teenager finishing up her last year at the School of American Ballet. Since then, she's taken a job with Los Angeles Ballet and matured into a dancer of refinement and charm—but fans still relate to her 18-year-old self. "Doing 'Strictly Ballet' was great because it taught me how to be professional, how to work with public relations teams, how to communicate with adults," she says. "But it's funny because, especially when I come back to NYC, people always recognize me from the show. There's this one part of my life on the internet—once it's out there, it never disappears!"
Perry, who trained at North Carolina Dance Theatre (now called Charlotte Ballet Academy) before enrolling at SAB, grew up in a diverse home, with a black father and a Filipino mother. "My whole family is from different places, so I didn't really see color until I went to school," she says. "Realizing that I was one of the only kids at SAB who wasn't white was eye-opening. But I used that as motivation to work harder." She admires Misty Copeland's groundbreaking advocacy, and hopes to follow her example. "It's heartwarming to come out after a show and have kids asking for autographs because I look like them," she says. "There's someone onstage they can relate to, and that's progress."
After most dancers graduate from The School of American Ballet they have lots of "firsts": first company contract, first performance with that company, and maybe even first solo role. But 2017 SAB grad Gianna Reisen is experiencing a different kind of "first" during her inaugural year in the professional ballet world: She's making her first choreographic debut at Lincoln Center. At just 18, Gianna Reisen is the youngest person ever to create a piece for the renowned New York City Ballet (NBD!). Her new work, Composer's Holiday, set to music by Lukas Foss, will premiere at the company's fall gala on September 28th.
Reisen impressed NYCB ballet master in chief Peter Martins with the ballets she made for SAB's Student Choreography Workshop and The New York Choreographic Institute, prompting Martins to invite her to create a piece for the main company. And though the pressure of such a proposal would intimidate even the most seasoned choreographer, Reisen's pragmatic poise about the whole thing assures us that she's up to the task.
New York City principal Lauren Lovette has become an icon thanks to her emotional maturity and exceptional musicality. The 26-year-old quickly rose through the ranks after joining the company as an apprentice in 2009, reaching principal status in 2015. A Thousand Oaks, CA, native, Lovette started studying ballet seriously at age 11, at the Cary Ballet Conservatory in Cary, NC. After attending two summer courses at the School of American Ballet, she enrolled as a full-time student in 2006. Last year, she made her choreographic debut with For Clara, her first piece for NYCB. Catch her latest work this month during the company's fall season. —Courtney Bowers
It's crazy to think about what the dance world would be like without the high-quality digital video that's taken over the Internet. We wouldn't have inspiring class videos (like this one featuring Tate McRae), or mind-blowing music videos (like Parris Goebel's one-woman production), or live streams for all kinds of special events (hello, World Ballet Day).
Today, let's take a moment to reflect on the legacy of George Balanchine, the father of American ballet.
He was an innovator, who took his Russian training and tweaked it to match the frenetic pace of his adopted home. Now, Balanchine dancers are known for their speed, precision and musicality. He was an entrepreneur, who created his own ballet education program and founded his own company. We still look to the School of American Ballet and New York City Ballet to preserve his legacy. He was a visionary, whose first ballet created in America (Serenade, in 1934!) looks as fresh today as it did 82 years ago.
Now, not only is his work exported to companies around the globe, but several other American companies are noted for their relationship to his training and choreography, including Pacific Northwest Ballet, Miami City Ballet and Pennsylvania Ballet. Balanchine really is everywhere.
Bolshoi Ballet principal Olga Smirnova in George Balanchine's "Diamonds" from Jewels (photo by Elena Fetisova)
His legacy isn't without controversy, though, and many people think Balanchine's preference for waif-like ballerinas helped normalize extremely thin bodies in the ballet world. Others don't like his style at all, and consider Balanchine technique to be too affected.
Fortunately, his body of work is so large and varied—and is now danced by so many companies—we can look at it and make decisions about its merit for ourselves. But there's no denying the lasting impact of his work. Who do you think will be the choreographers we still remember in another one hundred years?
There's been a pointe shoe-sized hole in our hearts ever since the first season of Teen Vogue's "Strictly Ballet" wrapped up last spring. The web series, which went inside the prestigious School of American Ballet, did such a beautiful job depicting the pressures and joys of life as an aspiring professional dancer. It showed us a familiar world in an eye-opening way. (And obviously we love a good dance-y web series.)
Dancers from the first season of "Strictly Ballet" (via teenvogue.com)
Well friends, get your popcorn ready, because "Strictly Ballet" Season 2 is officially a thing! The next installment of the series, which premieres May 20, will follow talented students at Miami City Ballet School. It's an interesting tack to take, because SAB and MCBS actually share a connection: They both come from the same Balanchine tradition. But NYC has significantly fewer beaches than Miami, and oh my gosh we can't WAIT for the dancing-on-the-beach montages that are inevitably headed our way.
To tide us crazy fans over until May 20, Teen Vogue put together a little video featurette on Mimi Staker, one of the gorgeous stars of the first season. Staker's now a full-fledged member of New York City Ballet, and the vid gives us a peek at what her professional life looks like. It also concludes with some pretty enticing sneak-preview Season 2 footage of MCBS students (including dance-y beach shots, yippee!). Take a look:
The School of American Ballet Spring Workshop, one of the dance world's most famous end-of-year performances, is almost like a rite of passage. Each year, SAB's most talented and advanced dancers are chosen to perform. Many of them go on to join major ballet companies nationwide—including New York City Ballet.
Addie Tapp, now in Boston Ballet, and Preston Chamblee, now an NYCB apprentice, in George Balanchine's Serenade at SAB's 2014 Workshop Performance (Paul Kolnik, courtesy Live From Lincoln Center)
Attending SAB's workshop is pretty darn cool, too. It's like witnessing a little slice of history—you're seeing prima ballerinas in the making, the stars before they become stars. Yet for those who don't live in NYC, chances to see the workshop performance are pretty rare.
Thankfully, that all changes next Friday, December 12*, when PBS' "Live From Lincoln Center" presents “Curtain Up: The School of American Ballet Workshop Performances.”
Taped this past spring, the TV special will show the entirety of the most recent SAB Workshop performance, which featured George Balanchine's Serenade and excerpts from his Coppélia, Swan Lake and Western Symphony. The program will also include rehearsal footage and interviews with dancers. And if this preview is any indication of what the whole 90 minutes will be like...I suggest you set your DVR now:
*Be sure to check your local listings for air dates and times, because not all PBS stations will be showing the special on the 12th. NYC's PBS station, for instance, won't air it until that Sunday, and Philadelphia's station isn't slated to show it until Thursday, December 18 at 3:30 pm. To find your local schedule, click here.