New York City Ballet's Tour to Washington DC
April 10, 2014
This past week, I was performing at the Kennedy Center with the New York City Ballet. The Company presented two diverse programs. The first one was a mixed repertory program that featured Christopher Wheeldon's Soiree Musicale, Justin Peck's Year of the Rabbit, and Alexi Ratmansky's Namouna: A Grand Divertissment. The second program featured George Balanchine's full-length ballet, Jewels. Of the seven performances, I performed in four. I debuted in Justin Peck's ballet Year of the Rabbit and also danced the Emeralds section in Jewels.
Jewels is a unique three act ballet that has been called the first full-length abstract ballet because it lacks a story. The three different sections, Emeralds, Rubies, and Diamonds have their own unique style and flare. Each of the three acts features the music of a different composer: Emeralds is set to the music of Gabriel Fauré, Rubies to the music of Igor Stravinsky and Diamonds to music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. Of the three, Emeralds is the most romantic section, and the music just carries me away. On the other hand, Justin's Year of the Rabbit is almost the complete opposite, and my role is very daring and athletic. I always enjoy debuts because of the energy and excitement that overtake the performance. There is always a sense of the unknown that I love taking on.
Putting the finishing touches on my makeup and hair
Here are two photos taken from the wings by fellow colleague Devin Alberda during Emeralds.
PS Don't forget to come and see me in the premier of a new Twyla Tharp duet this Thursday at BAM, featuring a live musical performance by the Carolina Chocolate Drops!
A Photo Shoot with Daniel D'Ottavio
March 28, 2014
Here are some beautiful photos from a photo shoot with Daniel D'Ottavio. Daniel had this wonderful idea to paint Robbie and I completely silver in order to really capture our bodies in movement. Daniel and Vasili Gavre also created this wonderful video of us that you can watch below.
A Weekend of Teaching Master Classes
March 20, 2014
This past weekend I taught two master classes for Indianapolis City Ballet and one class at Passaic County Technical Institute in Wayne, NJ. Even though I am still completely invested in my dancing career, I have always enjoyed teaching others. Perhaps it is because I grew up in my mother's studio with her as my teacher :) I just love sharing the knowledge I have with younger dancers.
Each year Indianapolis City Ballet puts together a series of master classes with various teachers. The students come from many different schools, and the talent is absolutely extraordinary. I taught two classes and held a Q&A in-between.
The next day, I traveled to Wayne, NJ and taught a class at Passaic County Technical Institute. The students were eager to learn and extremely disciplined. After class, we sat around and talked for about an hour. They asked numerous questions like what my typical daily schedule is at the New York City Ballet and what it takes to be a dancer. It was fun to see how excited they were to listen and ask for advice.
Teaching class in Indianapolis
A quick shot after class in Wayne, NJ
The Paul Taylor Dance Company Gala
March 13, 2014
Hi guys! I am so excited to dance tonight at the Paul Taylor Dance Company Gala! Here are some photos from yesterday's rehearsal with Paul himself. Robbie and I feel extremely honored that Paul invited us to guest and share this special night with his company :)
My Debut in Opus 19/ The Dreamer and Acheron
March 12, 2014
This past winter season at the New York City Ballet I was fortunate to make my debut in Opus 19 and be a part of Liam Scarlett's world premier.
Opus 19/ The Dreamer is a wonderful Jerome Robbin's ballet. This ballet was originated for Patricia McBride and Mikhail Baryshnikov and has been danced by a number of exceptional artists thereafter. It was an absolute honor to be cast for this role, and I had the most magical time performing it. Though it was my debut in this role, it felt completely natural to me. I look forward to performing it again in future seasons and growing into it more.
I also had the opportunity this season to perform in the world premier of Liam Scarlett's ballet Acheron. Creating a new ballet is more about the rehearsal process than anything because it is such a wonderful feeling to collaborate. Working with a new choreographer is always inspirational!
Performing Acheron with Robert Fairchild. Photo credit: Paul Kolnik
Striking one of the final poses in Opus 19 with Robert Fairchild. Photo credit: Paul Kolnik
February 27, 2014
Hi everyone! Between performing Coppelia and trying to plan our June wedding it has been a busy Winter Season. Here is what I have been up to.
Coppelia is one of my favorite ballets to perform. The ballet is based on a story by E.T.A. Hoffmann and is about a budding romance between two villagers, Frantz and Swanilda and the unusual workings of their eccentric neighbor Dr. Coppélius, a clever toymaker. When Swanilda realizes that Frantz is infatuated by the sight of the inventor's new doll, they both sneak into Dr. Coppélius' workshop at different times, and mayhem ensues.
Swanilda is such a wonderful role to portray. She is a young girl, in-love who is curious and somewhat into everything. She will stop at nothing to find out who this girl is that Frantz is paying attention to and comes to realize that he is infatuated with a doll!
I think playing Swanilda is the most fun I have ever had on stage. She is such an uncanny and smart character and I find it thrilling to live out every moment, action, and thought through her eyes. The character development and musicality of the choreography make Coppelia such a joy to dance!
Swanilda dances in Act 1 while enjoying her fellow villagers. Photo credit: Paul Kolnik
Swanilda sneaks into Dr. Coppelius' workshop in Act II and acts like a doll herself to trick him. Photo credit: Paul Kolnik
The wedding pas de deux in Act III. Photo credit: Paul Kolnik
My Second Week of Season
February 6, 2014
Last week I performed in two completely different ballets. One ballet was the glorious Jewels choreographed by George Balanchine, and the other was the haunting Spectral Evidence, which was choreographed by Angelin Preljocaj. It was really thrilling to perform two works in the same week that are on the opposite ends of a spectrum.
Jewels is a wonderful full evening ballet that highlights three different sections -- Emeralds, Rubies, and Diamonds. I dance in Emeralds, which I think is the most romantic and lyrical section of the three. My part was originated for the one and only Violette Verdy. Violette danced with a special quality that seemed like she always added some expensive perfume to any role. I love dancing her variation in Emeralds that is filled with so much discovery and abandon.
Performing Emeralds in George Balanchine's ballet Jewels. Photo credit: Costas Cacaroukas
Spectral Evidence is the second ballet I performed. In this ballet, the women are witches who possess their partners. The ballet is very dark since most of the inspiration for this ballet was the Salem Witch Trails. It was exciting to have been challenged to perform two distinctly different roles in the same week.
Performing Spectral Evidence wearing the Angelo Luzio/Body Wrappers style 246A/C totalSTRETCH Canvas ballet slippers in Jazzy Tan
Opening Week of New York City Ballet's 2014 Winter Season
January 30, 2014
This past week was an exhausting one, but completely fulfilling. I had the opportunity to dance three wonderful ballets by three amazing choreographers. I performed in Balanchine's Who Cares?, Christopher Wheeldon's After the Rain, and Jerome Robbins' Dances at a Gathering.
On opening night I performed Who Cares? Who Cares? is one of my favorite ballets to dance. My role was originated by the wonderful Patricia McBride and it is an honor to try and carry on the legacy of the role. I feel completely at ease dancing this part and I find something new to love about the role every time I dance it.
Two days later I made my debut in Christopher Wheeldon's After the Rain. This ballet is particularly special because it has only been danced in the company by the incomparable Wendy Whelan. With that said, it took a lot of courage to take on the daunting task of performing a ballet that I can only see and admire Wendy dancing. I can't put into words what I felt while performing this part. I felt completely transfixed and serene while dancing with Craig Hall, and it was a sort of out of body experience. All I can say is After The Rain is a "gift of a ballet!"
The third ballet I performed was the classic Dances at a Gathering. In this ballet, I perform the pink girl, which is another Patricia McBride role. Dances at a Gathering is such an intimate ballet and it is one that I feel extends my growth as an artist every time I dance it. What a wonderful week of ballets!
Performing Dances At A Gathering with Tyler Angle
Dancing with Robert Fairchild in Who Cares?
On The Town
January 23, 2014
This past month I participated in the the creative process of an On The Town Broadway revival. The way these broadway shows are brought to life is through what they call "workshops," "readings," and "labs." I was asked to play the wonderful role of Ivy Smith in a one week reading and a two week dance lab.
The one week reading was a time to really focus on "the book," meaning the script, and the dance lab was a time to focus on the choreography. The cast was really spectacular and it was wonderful to be a part of such a unique creative and learning process! It was particularly interesting to be a part of a show that is closely linked to Fancy Free, a ballet that I have performed in with the New York City Ballet. Fancy Free is such a fun ballet to perform, with the storyline of three sailors and their adventures that take place one night in New York City. The story never gets old!
Behind the scenes with Tony Yazbeck
The Artwork of Pointe Shoes
January 16, 2014
Pointe shoes are an essential part in a ballerina's career. The style and fit are very particular depending on the individual. The shoe of choice for New York City Ballet is Freed of London. My specific order is the Bell Maker and size 5XX. The 5 represents the length and the double X represents the width.
I take a particular interest in picking out the shoes I wear for performances. Sometimes I will spend around a half an hour the night before picking out the most perfect shoe that I can find for my performance the next evening. For some dancers they can use any pair, but Freeds are hand made so they vary from pair to pair. The advice I would give any dancer is to find a pointe shoe that molds to your foot as best as it can; a pointe shoe should merely look like an extension of your foot.
Below is an article from the NY Times where I am interviewed on pointe shoes.
Forbes 30 under 30
January 9, 2014
I cannot believe I made the Forbes 30 under 30 Hollywood and Entertainment list. I am definitely still pinching myself! I feel so honored and am beyond grateful!
Happy New Year Everyone!
January 3, 2014
This holiday season has been jammed packed yet extremely fun. Between dancing The Nutcracker and finally being able to go home for the holidays, I have been one busy girl.
One thing I always look forward to during the holidays is dancing George Balanchine's The Nutcracker. The production is so spectacular and truly brings some Christmas magic to the season. The two roles that I perform are Dewdrop (the lead of the Waltz of the Flowers) and the Sugar Plum Fairy. The Nutcracker is such a family show, and it is always fun to share the stage with students from the School of American Ballet.
Giving autographs to all of the children after dancing The Sugar Plum Fairy at the Family Benefit Performance.
Posing with Pippa in my Dewdrop costume :)
Besides dancing The Nutcracker here in New York, I also performed it in Texas and California. Tyler Angle and I guested with Chamberlain Performing Arts in Richardson, TX and Robert Fairchild and I guested with Pacific Festival Ballet in Thousand Oaks, CA. It was so wonderful to dance in both places :)
With my cavalier and fiancé Robert Fairchild
One very special moment in Thousand Oaks, CA was having the opportunity, before Robbie and my wedding, of meeting Robbie's Grandparents who just happen to live near there.
The best part of this holiday season was getting to spend Christmas with our families. It is such a rarity for both Robbie and I to not be cast around Christmas so we seized the opportunity. After our performances in Thousand Oaks, we stayed on the West Coast and spent Christmas Eve and the day before in Utah with Robbie's family and Christmas Day and the day after in California with my family. It sounds a little crazy, and I have to admit the traveling was a bit hectic, but so worth it. This was the first time we have gotten to spend Christmas at home in ten years!
Meeting all of the Fairchild's :) my soon to be second family in Thousand Oaks
The cookies Robbie and I baked on Christmas Eve
All of the doggies together with their holiday bows :)
My dad decorated the front lawn for me like the good old days!
Dancing the Grand Pas De Deux with Tyler Angle in Richardson, TX.
December 25, 2013
A Day with The One and Only Jacques d'Amboise
December 12, 2013
The George Balanchine Foundation is in the process of taping all Balanchine's ballets for archival purposes. The Foundation aims to capture the priceless coaching between a former dancer and a dancer of this generation. It is extremely important and educational for a dancer who the role was created for to teach and share with a dancer of today who never had the chance to work with George Balanchine. This process is particularly unique because these former dancers are able to share their insights and Mr. B's thoughts and words with those of us dancing the ballets today. By recording this rehearsal process, the George Balanchine Foundation, is able to capture some unique footage to help restore the ballets to their most original versions.
Prior to this experience, I was involved in one other filming where Merrill Ashley coached me on the ballet, Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 2. This time, I had the privilege of working with the incredible Jacques d'Amboise on George Balanchine's ballet Who Cares?! The role I dance now was originally created for Patricia McBride who danced this ballet with Jacques, and now it is a ballet that Robert Fairchild and I dance. It was very remarkable to be in a room with Jacques and hear things like "Mr. B used to always say this" or "He loved…". I couldn't have asked for a more inspirational day and from such an eager and loving human being.
My role in Who Cares? has become one of my favorites to dance and the one-on-one time in the studio with Jacques has now made it more special in so many ways. It's hard to explain in words exactly what I experienced working with an original Balanchine dancer. When we concluded the coaching session, it felt as if a magical "finishing touch" had been placed on me.
Taking a quick photo with Jacques after the filming :)
A Week Of Sharing With A Younger Generation
November 28, 2013
Last week I had the opportunity of being a part of two panel discussions. One was titled "Ask The Pros" and the other one was called "Living Through Dance." Even though I don't think of myself as an actual "Pro" because I am constantly learning new things, it was fun to share any tips and knowledge I have with aspiring young dancers and their parents.
"Ask The Pros" was held on November 17th at Steps on Broadway. When I was asked to speak on the panel about what it takes to become a professional dancer, I was excited to share my insights. I know how much it means to listen to advice from a dancer you either look up to or admire, and I was happy to share my experiences with a younger generation. The panel was very versatile and I was honored to be among such a wonderful group.
The next night, I was asked to speak at my alma mater, Professional Children's School. It was emotional being back at my high school and seeing all of my teachers, not to mention seeing how much the school has changed since I attended. This school holds such an important part in my life because it supported me through my first years as a young dancer living away from home and being a part of the New York City Ballet at fifteen. PCS is such a unique and amazing institution and I am proud to be a graduate of such a challenging and supportive school.
The Enemy Within: A New Dance Film
November 21, 2013
Seven years ago a college student had an idea to bring together talented artists from different dance genres to make something. On November 11th, his dreams came true, and Preston Miller had his first screening of a dance film that he created, choreographed, and produced. The film is called the Enemy Within and the cast includes Matthew Rushing, rehearsal director and guest artist with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Marquese 'Nonstop' Scott, member of Dragon House and YouTube Street Dancer, Samantha Figgins, dancer with Complexions Contemporary Ballet, and myself, a Principal dancer with the New York City Ballet.
It was an honor to be a part of this collaboration. Being able to dance with these amazing dancers from various companies was a tremendous learning experience. The film took us all out of our comfort zones, which ultimately helped us grow as artists. I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to be a apart of this film and am excited for everyone to see it. Keep up with the whereabouts of the film at theuai.com or follow theUAI on Facebook and Twitter!
Here are some trailers for the film. Enjoy!
A quick shot at the Nov 11 New York screening with everyone who made this film possible!
The Premier of Sarah Jessica Parker's New AOL Web Series "city.ballet"
November 14, 2013
The new web series "city.ballet" premiered in New York on November 4th at the Tribeca Cinemas. The brainchild behind this series is non other than the talented Sarah Jessica Parker. Ms. Parker is on the board of the New York City Ballet and is a wonderful supporter of the Company. She has really been an important figure in cultivating a younger audience at the ballet. She has helped partner fashion designers with choreographers for our fall galas, and she has now made NYCB accessible over the internet with this new web series.
This web series, produced by Pretty Matches Productions and Zero Point Zero Production, offers fans an all-access pass into the country’s largest and most prominent dance company, the New York City Ballet. Each 6-8 minute episode in the 12 episode series is narrated by Ms. Parker and takes viewers through a dancer’s journey both on and off the stage.
The series focuses on the dedication and determination it takes to be in the New York City Ballet. It isn't like a reality show; instead, it is more like a documentary and interviews individual dancers on various issues like relationships, injuries, ranks, and many more.
I really think this series is a wonderful vehicle to reach audiences that don't have the opportunity to see the New York City Ballet perform in New York. Hopefully the series reaches out to individuals who don't know about dance and will make them want to come see our Company live!
A quick shot in our theater seats before the premier :)
The 31st Annual Princess Grace Awards Gala
November 7, 2013
On October 30th, the Princess Grace Foundation held their 31st annual Awards Gala at Cipriani 42nd street. The venue was absolutely stunning and marked a perfect spot for a memorable evening.
Walking the red carpet with my fiancé Robert Fairchild in a J Mendel dress. Photo credit: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images
Photo credit: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images
I was honored to have Susan Stroman there to present me with the 2013 Statue Award. Stro is the reason I first moved to New York so it seemed perfectly fitting for her to be the one to present me with the Statue Award.
Photo credit: Dimitrios Kambouris/ WireImage
Fortunately, I did have the opportunity to make a few remarks thanking the foundation:
"While a student at the School of American Ballet, the Princess Grace Foundation-USA helped me realize my goals and potential by awarding me with the 2004 Princess Grace Award. The award recognized me as a talented emerging artist, which opened many doors and helped facilitate the beginnings of my ballet career. The accolades of this award not only elevated my position within the dance community but also gave me the confidence that I needed to succeed.
Since receiving the initial award in 2004, I joined the New York City Ballet as a full time member the following year, and in 2009, I was promoted to the rank of Principal Dancer. Becoming a Principal ballerina with the New York City Ballet is a dream that I never thought was possible, but the Princess Grace Foundation-USA inspired me to “dream big and work hard.” I feel extremely humbled to be among the select few who have won the Statue Award.
The Princess Grace Foundation USA is unlike any other organization, supporting artists of this generation and many more to follow. I am just so grateful to be part of this philanthropic and international family. For me, one of the most remarkable attributes of the Princess Grace Foundation-USA is its active involvement in each recipient’s life. The Foundation is determined to help recipients further their careers beyond winning the award. This year, I was given a Professional Development grant that made it possible for me to take weekly voice lessons in addition to my ballet training. As a result, I was recently cast to play the title role in Susan Stroman’s new musical, Little Dancer, and I owe part of that to the Princess Grace Foundation-USA for their generous contribution towards my vocal training. I am very grateful to the Foundation for assisting with my development as an artist and continuing to aid my professional growth."
The gala then went on to present the new awardees with their initial Princess Grace Awards and concluded with Princess Charlene of Monaco presenting Cicely Tyson with the lifetime Prince Rainier III Award. Ms. Tyson's speech was the most moving, inspirational, and heartfelt speech I think I have ever heard. She said, "The minute you feel you have arrived, is the minute you will stop growing." I completely agree and was deeply touched by her words. The evening was very special and I am beyond honored to be a 2013 Statue Award Winner.
Standing with actress Jennifer Grant, journalist and newscaster Paula Zahn, Princess Charlene of Monaco, and the other 2013 Statue Award Winner, filmmaker Wendy Levy. Photo credit: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images
Sharing this special moment with my father and mother :)