Strictly Come Dancing | Around The World

Strictly Come Dancing | Around The World

Caroline Flack, Pasha Kovalev - (C) BBC - Photographer: Guy Levy
Caroline Flack, Pasha Kovalev – (C) BBC – Photographer: Guy Levy

Did you agree with the scoring this week ?

Caroline and Pasha’s Charleston is top of the leader board with 39 points, with Darcey saying the dance was “amazing.” Was it ?

Simon & Kristina danced a beautiful Waltz that was “fabulous” (Len) and “so fine, almost Princely” (Bruno) that earned them a score of 38, tying them in second place with Pixie & Trent whose Viennese Waltz was like “a bouquet of terrific dancing” (Len).

Frankie & Kevin’s Jive perplexed Craig, who said “how you can Jive on a surfboard in heels is beyond me” and they scored 36

Mark & Karen’s Salsa was “all in” (Len) and Craig said of Mark, “hip circles are second to none” scoring them 32

At the bottom are Sunetra and Brendan with the difficult Rhumba, which “could have done with a bit more sparkle” (Len) and scored 27

Brendan Cole, Sunetra Sarker - (C) BBC - Photographer: Guy Levy
Brendan Cole, Sunetra Sarker – (C) BBC – Photographer: Guy Levy

Tonight’s Strictly Song & Dance Details :

Caroline and Pasha dance the Charleston to They Might Be Giant’s version of ‘Istanbul’. (TURKEY)

Frankie and Kevin dance the Jive to ‘Surfin’ USA’ by The Beach Boys. (USA)

Jake and Janette dance the Argentine Tango to ‘Zorba The Greek’. (GREECE)

Mark and Karen dance the Salsa to ‘Viva Las Vegas’ by Elvis Presley. (USA)

Pixie and Trent dance the Viennese Waltz to ‘Tulips From Amsterdam’ by Max Bygraves. (NETHERLANDS)

Simon and Kristina dance the Waltz to ‘Edelweiss’ from The Sound of Music. (AUSTRIA)

Sunetra and Brendan dance the Rhumba to Michael Bolton’s version of ‘Girl From Ipanema’. (BRAZIL)

 

Trent Whiddon, Pixie Lott - (C) BBC - Photographer: Guy Levy
Trent Whiddon, Pixie Lott – (C) BBC – Photographer: Guy Levy

 

Kevin Clifton, Frankie Bridge - (C) BBC - Photographer: Guy Levy
Kevin Clifton, Frankie Bridge – (C) BBC – Photographer: Guy Levy

 

Kevin Clifton, Frankie Bridge - (C) BBC - Photographer: Guy Levy
Kevin Clifton, Frankie Bridge – (C) BBC – Photographer: Guy Levy

All photographs © BBC Pictures. Strictly, no unauthorised reproduction.

Dress rehearsal photos (scroll down for the live show pics)

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Strictly News

This is where you can see all the previous photographs from the series, and read the news as it happened this year.

Strictly Come Dancing results week 9

Strictly Come Dancing week 9

Strictly Come Dancing | Results Blackpool Week

Strictly Come Dancing | Blackpool Tower Ballroom

Strictly Come Dancing | Children in Need

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Strictly Come Dancing & Children In Need 2014

Strictly Come Dancing Results |The Week Before Blackpool

Strictly Come Dancing | The Week Before Blackpool

Strictly Come Dancing results Halloween Week 5

Strictly Come Dancing | Halloween Week

Strictly Come Dancing Results | Week Five

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Strictly Come Dancing results week Four

Strictly Come Dancing Week Four | Every Sequin Photographed

Strictly Come Dancing results | Movie Week

Strictly Come Dancing Week 3 | Movie Week

Strictly Come Dancing Results | The First Elimination

Strictly Come Dancing Week 2 | The First Elimination Weekend

Strictly Come Dancing | The First Saturday

Strictly Come Dancing | The First Friday

Donny Osmond to make a guest judge appearance on Strictly Come Dancing

Strictly Come Dancing | Pro Celeb Photos

Strictly Come Dancing 2014 | The Professional Dancers

The People’s Strictly

Strictly Come Dancing | The Professionals

STRICTLY COME DANCING CELEBRITIES AND PROFESSIONAL PARTNERS REVEALED

Strictly Come Dancing 2014 | Every Sequin So Far

Strictly Come Dancing | Claudia & Tess

Strictly Come Dancing 2014 | The Celebrities In Pictures

Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Final Three Celebrities Confirmed for Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Caroline Flack is confirmed for Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Pixie Lott is confirmed for Strictly Come Dancing 2014

TV and radio presenter Scott Mills is the tenth celebrity confirmed for Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Steve Backshall is the ninth celebrity confirmed for Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Jake Wood joins the sparkling celebrity line-up for Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Sunetra Sarker is the seventh contestant confirmed for Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Mark Wright is the sixth contestant confirmed for Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Simon Webbe joins Strictly Come Dancing’s celebrity line-up

Thom Evans is the fourth contestant confirmed for Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Alison Hammond is the third contestant confirmed for Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Judy Murray is the second contestant confirmed for Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Frankie Bridge confirmed for Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Strictly Come Dancing 2014 Professional Dancers Confirmed

Strictly Come Dancing | Claudia Winkleman to replace Bruce Forsyth

 

All photographs © BBC Pictures. Strictly, no unauthorised reproduction.

Live show photographs :

Cupcakes & Conversation with Sarah Van Patten, Principal, San Francisco Ballet

Sarah Van Patten and Pierre Francois-Vilanoba in Wheeldon’s Within the Golden Hour Erik Tomasson
ballet cupckes
Primrose Bakery supports Ballet News

Cupcakes & Conversation with Sarah Van Patten, Principal, San Francisco Ballet

Sarah Van Patten and Tiit Helimets in Neumeier’s The Little Mermaid Erik Tomasson
Sarah Van Patten and Tiit Helimets in Neumeier’s The Little Mermaid Photograph : Erik Tomasson

What motivates you at 8am on a Monday morning?

If Monday is the start of a new ballet then it’s always exciting to see what will be created. I love seeing what can evolve from nothing. I’m also always excited, not only by the process of the pieces I am working on, but also the relationships and friendships that I build every day.

Why ballet?

When I was younger I started doing jazz, tap and ballet as after school activities. Slowly, I left jazz and tap and started focusing on ballet. By the time I was eight I was dancing five days a week, and by the time I was eleven I knew that I wanted to pursue a dance career. For some dancers they see a performance as a kid and decide that they want to dance, but for me it was a gradual realization.

What are you looking forward to dancing during 2012 & what are the big challenges likely to be for you?

I am lucky to be a part of many of the ballets in the repertoire. This season I am looking forward to the return of Onegin, as well Christopher Wheeldon’s Cinderella. Other ballets include Wheeldon’s Within the Golden Hour, Jerome Robbins’ In the Night, and Balanchine’s Scotch Symphony and Symphony in Three Movements. There are also a few new works being created this fall which I always enjoy being a part of. These works are by choreographers, Yuri Possikhov, Alexei Ratmansky, Wayne McGregor, and Helgi Tomasson.

Sarah Van Patten and Tiit Helimets in Bintley’s The Dance House Erik Tomasson
Sarah Van Patten and Tiit Helimets in Bintley’s The Dance House Photograph : Erik Tomasson

Who would you most like to dance with & what would you dance?

I’m lucky to dance with wonderful partners here at SF Ballet. I recently saw Hamburg Ballet dance when I was guesting with the company, and I would love to dance another full length of John Neumeier such as Lady of the Camellias.

If you could dance anywhere in the world (not only in a theatre), where would you dance?

I remember dancing outside in the Acropolis in Greece and having an incredible experience. I also danced at the Spoleto Festival in Italy. These were both outdoors. When the weather is right, I find it to be very liberating to dance in a beautiful outdoor setting.

How do you prepare your pointe shoes?

I like to bend my shoes when they are brand new, to soften the shank as well as step on the box of the shoe to soften and flatten it. Then I remove two nails in the shank and cut down the material so that the cardboard ends where the arch of my foot is.  I sew on the ribbons and the elastics and tie and trim the drawstrings. I like to wear new shoes so I go through many pairs a season.

What is your daily routine at the moment?

At the moment I’m in rehearsal period at the ballet. I’m working Monday through Friday, about six hours a day. When I’m rehearsing full days, (like I am now) I have very little time for anything else outside of ballet. I just focus on being prepared for my rehearsals by eating well and getting enough sleep. This also includes taking care of any body aches or possible injuries that can arise. I try to stretch a lot during this time of the year because seven hours of dancing each day can take a toll on the body!

What do you eat during the course of a typical working day?

I have to have my coffee! I’ll have either a piece of toast with a hard boiled egg, or a bowl of cereal with blueberries. For lunch, I’ll either have a piece of toast with avocado and a slice of cheese or some yogurt with granola and fruit. I’ll also eat a banana or an apple, as well as trail mix to keep me going on long days. For dinner I like to cook. I’ll make either fish or chicken with some vegetables and rice or potatoes. I also love chocolate and will either walk to my favorite gelato store at night or have a piece of dark chocolate.

You can ask six famous people to dinner – whom would you invite?

This is a hard question, but if I had to pick six to start I would say George Balanchine, Joe Montana, Woody Allen, Robin Williams, Bob Dylan, Gandhi.

What would surprise people about you?

I’m a huge football fan. I grew up watching the New England Patriots but I’ve also become a Buffalo Bills fan. I watch the games every Sunday during football season and I hope to make it to a few games.

Who inspired you to dance?

My family. I have amazing parents who are very supportive of my dance career. Without them I would not be the dancer I am today. I feel very blessed to have had a chance to achieve my dream of dancing professionally.

Sarah Van Patten and Pierre Francois-Vilanoba in Wheeldon’s Within the Golden Hour Erik Tomasson
Sarah Van Patten and Pierre Francois-Vilanoba in Wheeldon’s Within the Golden Hour Photograph : Erik Tomasson

What is your best piece of advice?

When making choices in life always listen to your gut instinct. I’ve been confronted with some very tough choices at a very young age and somehow I just knew what the right choice was. It wasn’t always the easiest, but in the end it was right.

How do you prepare in the hours before a show?

I like to take eat something that would last me through the show like pasta or a sandwich with avocado and cheese. I’ll take a nap and then a hot shower before starting my make-up and doing my hair. I’ll also see our physical therapist who will work on whatever issue I’m dealing with at the time. About an hour and a half before the performance I’ll start stretching and do a barre. I’ll get my shoes on and practice some of my choreography on stage before getting into my costume and talking through things with my partner.

How do you deal with the stress of performing?

If I know I’ve rehearsed properly for a role then I know I’m prepared. When I dance full length ballets for the first time I’ll have more nerves than shorter ballets, due to the length of time I know I’m on stage and the pressure of needing to carry the evening. I try to think about one section at a time in order to not overwhelm myself. This way the story evolves naturally so each that section feels spontaneous.

Which role has tested you the most & how ?

During different times in my career different roles have tested me. A few years ago I danced my premier of Odette/Odile in Swan Lake. This was a huge technical challenge for me at the time – after dancing the role, I had more confidence in dancing other very technical ballets. One other very challenging work that really tested me as an artist was when I danced the Mermaid and the Princess in John Neumeier’s The Little Mermaid. Over the period of one week I danced nine back-to-back shows, performing either role. These two roles are complete opposite in character and technique so I needed to stay very focused throughout the week in order to switch back and fourth between the two.

If you were asked to design your own ballet costume, what would you create?

I’m not a designer or a choreographer but I always enjoy wearing flowing dresses. I also like to be in shades of blue!

What do you look for in a dance partner?

I look for someone who I can enjoy working with, who is coordinated and who will repeat a step 100 times until I feel we have achieved it. I love the process of creating a ballet, so I like to work hard and laugh in the studio. Luckily for me I’ve experienced this with all of my partners at SFB.

What is your favorite quote?

“Don’t think, just do.” Yuri Possokhov always says this and it’s good a good reminder for me, especially when I get nervous.

Do you have a ‘signature step’ – one that comes naturally to you?

I’m smiling reading this question because I’ve been known here at SFB to dance many of the dramatic works. If there’s a death involved I’m usually cast for the part.

A phrase I use far too often is … ?

I asked my boyfriend this question and his reply was…”Pick this up,” or “Is the dishwasher full?” “Why are there dishes in the sink?” I guess I’m a neat freak.

What’s been your best on-stage moment so far?

Two best on-stage favorites of mine have to be dancing the ballerina in Jerome Robbins’, The Concert and dancing the elephant in Alexei Ratmansky’s Carnival of the Animals. In both of these ballets I was able to dance “bad ballet” in a very exaggerated and humorous way. I had the time of my life dancing these parts on the stage.

Do you have a secret skill, which no one knows about?

I’m a good cook, I love to garden and organizing and cleaning relax me.

In terms of your ballet career, where would you like to be in a year from now?

I feel very lucky to be dancing for San Francisco Ballet. Next season will be my twelfth season with the Company. Every season is full of new challenges. I look forward to another season with the Company dancing great repertory.

What is your exit strategy, for the time when you stop dancing, and how did you plan it?

I’m very close to graduating college with a BA in Liberal Arts. In the past few years, I’ve helped organize a few fundraisers for different organizations. My first was one benefitting an organization called Children of Uganda. The second was for the Cancer Prevention Institute of California. I’ve enjoyed working on these projects and I could see myself going to business school to acquire the skills needed to fundraise and work in non-profit organizations.

 

San Francisco Ballet visit Sadlers Wells in London between 14-23 September

London 2012 Festival presents Olympic inspired programme for the London 2012 Olympic Games

London 2012 Festival presents Olympic inspired programme for the London 2012 Olympic Games

 

Antony Hegarty, Meera Syal, Laurence Clark, Thomas Heatherwick, Olafur Eliasson, Richard Long, Susan Philipsz, Laurie Anderson, Mark Rees, Una Stubbs, Michael Ball, Gillian Keith, Sir James Galway, Rankin, Martin Parr, Yoko Ono, Mary McCartney, Tania Bruguera, Mike Pearson, and The Wooster Group are among the artists and groups taking part in London 2012 Festival events in the first week of the London 2012 Olympic Games

 

In celebration of   the launch of the London 2012 Olympic Games, the London 2012 Festival presents a programme of events across the capital and the rest of the United Kingdom  inspired by the values of the Olympics and Paralympic Games and the theme of Olympic Truce.

 

The Olympic Truce, central to the first Olympic Games held in 776 BC, encourages nations to cease hostilities and set aside conflict during the Olympic Games in order to celebrate humanity, noble competition and peaceful gathering, through sport  and the values of Olympism, of all peoples and cultures. In 2011 the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution urging the nations of the world to observe the Olympic Truce during the Games of the 30th Olympiad in London. This ancient tradition has inspired the programming across the 12 weeks of the London 2012 Festival.

 

The London 2012 Festival features more than 25,000 artists from all 204 competing Olympic nations. Everyone is able to join in the celebration this summer with over 10 million free tickets and opportunities to take part in 12,000 events and  performances at 900 venues all over the UK, including 130 world premieres and 85 UK premieres.

 

Works inspired by Olympic and Paralympic values

 

Rio Occupation London reaches its finale with a free three-day festival at London’s V22. The occupation has   seen 30 Rio artists occupy the streets, stages and squares of London over the   past month in an exuberant 30-day residency of art, music, dance, theatre,   film and poetry. The Festival finale offers a unique chance to experience   over 30 original art works that have been created by some of Rio’s most   exciting artists. Each day begins at 3PM with opportunities to view and   interact with an array of video installations, live performances, cinema,   theatre, dance and music. Along with Brazilian food and drink, the Festival   goes into the night with live musicians and DJs. Highlights over the three   days include Ramon Mello’s Endless   Poem, a ‘performance within a party’, visual artist Laura Lima’s Unspecified, a novel type of cinematic   installation which defies categorisation, guerilla banana street art, and DJ   Joao Brasil and Brazilian Kitchen – a band of artists and chefs who cook   while they jam. All of the artists will be present to meet audiences and talk   with them about their work. Tickets are free, but must be booked through www.bac.org.uk (V22 Summer Club,   The Biscuit Factory, Bermondsey, London (FREE, 1-3 August 2012).

 

Heatherwick Studio: Designing the Extraordinary – the first major solo exhibition of the work of Heatherwick Studio, one of the most inventive and experimental British design  studios practising today. On 29 July, a smaller model of Thomas Heatherwick’s design for the Olympic Cauldron   was added to the exhibition. The Olympic Cauldron was unveiled to the public   for the first time at the Opening Ceremony of the Olympics – during which it   received the Olympic Flame – and this is the first chance for the public to see the design up close. Alongside this, there is a recorded interview with Danny Boyle, Thomas Heatherwick and exhibition curator Abraham Thomas, discussing the work. (Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 31 May – 30   September 2012)

 

The World in London, a major public art project initiated by The Photographers’ Gallery brings together 204 specially commissioned photographic portraits of 204 Londoners, each originating from one of the nations competing at the Games. Leading national and international artists including Stephen Shore, Martin Parr, Mary McCartney and Rankin, alongside emerging names, have been commissioned by The Photographers’ Gallery to photograph the sitters over the last two years.  The 204 portraits will be exhibited for free viewing as large-scale posters in Victoria Park in East London (FREE, 27 July – 12 August 2012), and Park House in Oxford Street, London (FREE,   27 July – 30 August 2012)

 

The Olympic Journey: The Story of the Games exhibition tells the Olympic story through the endeavours of ancient and modern Olympians.   Visitors will be taken on a journey from ancient Greece, the original home of the Olympic Games through the vision of Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the man behind the revival of the Games many centuries later.  The experience will continue with the stories of some of the iconic Olympic athletes including Steve Redgrave, Cathy Freeman, Kelly Holmes, and Jesse Owens. Staged at the Royal Opera House for free and for the duration of the Olympic Games, it will include unique artefacts, animation, film and audio from The Olympic Museum in Lausanne being shown in London for the first time (FREE, Royal Opera House, 28 July – 12 August 2012).

BT Road to 2012, a three-year project and the National Portrait Gallery’s largest commission, reaches its conclusion with the opening of the final exhibition in the cycle, BT Road to 2012: Aiming High. Forty new portraits of some of the key players in London 2012, including Lord Sebastian Coe, Mark Cavendish, Fran Halsall and Danny Boyle, by photographers Anderson & Low, Jillian Edelstein and Nadav Kander, are on show (FREE, National Portrait Gallery, 19   July – 23 September 2012).

 

The London 2012   Festival is the finale of the Cultural Olympiad. Since the Cultural Olympiad   started in 2008 over 18 million people all over the UK have already   participated in or attended over 9,000 performances and more than 8,000   workshops as part of Cultural Olympiad programmes inspired by London 2012 and   funded by our principal funders and sponsors.

 

Principal Funders   of the Cultural Olympiad and London 2012 Festival are Arts Council England, Legacy Trust UK and the Olympic Lottery Distributor. BP and BT are Premier Partners of the Cultural Olympiad and the London 2012 Festival.

 

Supporters of the London 2012 Festival are BMW, Eurostar, Freshfields, King’s College London,   Panasonic, Samsung, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Arts Council of Wales,   BBC, British Council, Creative Scotland, DCAL, DCMS, Festivals Edinburgh,   Mayor Of London, Northern Ireland Tourist Board, Visit Britain and Visit Scotland.

Cupcakes & Conversation with Max Westwell, Soloist, Birmingham Royal Ballet

ballet cupcakes
ballet cupcakes
Primrose Bakery supports Ballet News

Cupcakes & Conversation with Max Westwell, Soloist, Birmingham Royal Ballet

dancer at the barre
Max Westwell Photograph : BBC/Tiger Aspect Productions

What motivates you at 8am on a Monday morning?

Not a lot! But by 8.30am the challenge to improve, learn new skills and be part of something exciting is good motivation.

Why ballet?

Because it’s a beautiful way of portraying emotion.

Who would you most like to dance with & what would you dance?

I think Lauren Cuthbertson [Ed note : Principal dancer from the Royal Ballet]. I would dance anything with a good story.

If you could dance anywhere in the world (not only in a theatre), where would you dance?

I would love to go back to the Herod’s Atticus Theatre in Greece. It’s an open air amphitheatre which is just amazing. Or New York!

What is your daily routine at the moment?

I don’t really have one yet. I am new at BRB and still finding my feet.

What do you eat during the course of a typical working day?

A lot of everything, but I try and keep it healthy.

How do you prepare in the hours before a show?

I like to get in and have everything ready and organised before the half hour call so that I have time to prepare.

What are you looking forward to dancing in 2012?

David Bintley is choreographing a new ballet called Faster, Higher, Stronger.  I hope to be involved in that and anything new I can get my hands on!

How do you deal with the stresses of performing?

By staying fit and healthy and being one step ahead of what I am doing. I enjoy the good bits when they happen and take the bad with a pinch of salt.

You can ask six famous people to dinner – who would you invite?

Al Pacino (I think he would have great stories), Richard Branson (A very inspiring fellow dyslexic), Eva Green (we have some dancing to do), Freddie Mercury (good for a sing song), Keith Lemon (because he’s nuts and good fun) and Jessica Brown Findley (I went to school with her and now she’s famous, so I’m very proud). That sounds like a good do!

What would surprise people about you?

I’m quite shy until I get to know people.

Who inspired you to dance?

So many different people in so many different forms of dance, but in ballet it’s got to be Carlos Acosta.

How would someone else describe you?

Probably loud, focused and fun… hopefully!

What is your best piece of advice?

Think your own thoughts.

Which role has tested you the most & how?

Romeo in every way – mind, body and soul. My body felt completely dead after Act I so it’s hard to think about how you are going to do Act II, let alone Act III.

What is the funniest thing that’s ever happened to you?

I’ve had so many moments on stage that have been very funny. When you look back at them they are really funny but not at the time! There was a massive fall centre stage when my friends had come to watch for the first time. Getting our costumes hooked together and having to go off like Siamese twins was a good one, or just forgetting the prop that I needed to do the dance and having to mime holding something like a crazy person!

If you designed your own stage costume, what would you create?

I know what it wouldn’t be… It wouldn’t have some silly head dress or be pink or have big ears or horns!

A phrase I use far too often is …

What was that? I missed that…

Who would play you in the film of your life?

Me! Who’s writing the script and when do we start?!

What is your favourite quote?

“If it takes a yard and a half of tripe to make a double breasted waistcoat for a bow legged elephant, how long is a piece of string? As long as you want it to be.”

What’s on your iPod?

A whole load of everything from heavy metal to hardcore house… Musicals, classical, the lot!

Who would you most like to dance for, and why?

I’ve been lucky and danced for lots of important and amazing people. One that was special was HM The Queen. That was cool!

What makes you a good dance partner?

I have a willingness to try and understand the other person’s way of moving to make whatever we are doing work well.

Do you have a secret skill which no one knows about?

I can talk forever.

Describe yourself in just three words.

Energetic, positive, complicated.

If you could dance in front of anyone, who would it be and what makes them special to you?

My family. Cheesy, I know!

In terms of your ballet career, where would you like to be this time next year?

At the top of my game with some exciting and interesting new projects to be involved in.

What is your exit strategy, for the time when you stop dancing, and how did you plan it?

I don’t really know. I have lots of things that I want to try.  All of them are visually based and creative. Different sorts of theatre, TV and films. I would like to be my own boss one day.

Cupcakes & Conversation with Jin Yao, Principal Dancer of The Hong Kong Ballet

ballet dancer in arabesque
ballet cupcakes
Primrose Bakery supports Ballet News

Cupcakes & Conversation with Jin Yao, Principal Dancer of The Hong Kong Ballet

ballet dancer
Jin Yao

What motivates you at 8am on a Monday morning ? 

My love for ballet and knowing that there are always new and exciting things that await you every day.

Why ballet ?

The beauty of it is irreplaceable in my heart!

What are you looking forward to dancing this year ?

I am looking forward to dancing more interpretative roles – characters that are more mature, with a strong storyline. For example, I like Onegin, La dame aux camélias

Who would you most like to dance with & what would you dance ?

I would like to dance with a partner who is as passionate as I am, strong and full of emotions.

If you could dance anywhere in the world (not only in a theatre), where would you dance ?

I would love to dance everywhere, perhaps in romantic places like Greece, or dance along the riverside of Venice!

How do you prepare your pointe shoes ?

I first cut the insole and stitch the platform of the pointe shoes, then the elastic and the ribbon, break the pointe shoes so that it won’t hurt my feet.

What is your daily routine at the moment ?

I start my day at around 8am, have a full breakfast, and then it’s dancing all day from 10am-6pm.

What do you eat during the course of a typical working day ?

It has to be a full breakfast followed by a light lunch, something that is low fat & non-oily. I will have a big dinner after work, mainly in traditional steamed/stewed Chinese food. 

ballet dancer in arabesque
Jardin aux Lilas Jin Yao Photographer: Conrad Dy-Liacco © The Hong Kong Ballet

You can ask six famous people to dinner – who would you invite ?

Steve Jobs (too bad he’s not with us), Jennifer Lopez, Bill Gates, Vladimir Putin, Michael Jordan, Liu Chang Le (the boss of Phoenix TV in China)

Who inspired you to dance ?

It’s my family who are also dancers and who inspired me since I was very young.

What is your best piece of advice ?

Follow your heart and be true to yourself.

How do you prepare in the hours before a show ?

I will do the makeup by myself, and also start warming up. It’s also very important for me to stay quiet and calm so my heart and soul are prepared for the performance.

How do you deal with the stress of performing ?

Try to stay calm and quiet before the show and immerse myself with the music and the character.

Which role has tested you the most & how ?

I would have to say it’s the role in Theme and Variations by Balanchine. It is so demanding and challenging both technically and physically and it takes a while to reach to that level if you haven’t danced Balanchine for a short while.

If you were asked to design your own ballet costume, what would you create ?

It would depend on the repertoire, but I would love to add some Chinese elements in it!

What do you look for in a dance partner ?

He has to be charming, musical, strong and professional

What is your favourite quote ?

“Never Give Up”

Do you have a ‘signature step’ – one that comes naturally to you ?

Grand jeté – I love it!

A phrase I use far too often is … ?

Whatever!

What’s been your best on-stage moment so far ?

It has to be dancing with Friedemann Vogel – he guested in our Sleeping Beauty performance last year and it was a fabulous experience.

Do you have a secret skill which no-one knows about ?

I think I cook quite well in Chinese food! 

ballet dancers Swan Lake
Swan Lake Jin Yao, Huang Zhen Photographer: Gordon Wong © The Hong Kong Ballet

In terms of your ballet career, where would you like to be in a year from now ?

I hope that there will be more opportunity for me to dance overseas – in guesting and artist exchange with other ballet companies.

If you could dance in front of anyone, who would it be and what makes them special to you?

Definitely my family. They’re living quite remote from me and there’s not much chance that they can watch my performance live.

What is your exit strategy, for the time when you stop dancing, and how did you plan it ?

I want to do something for the next generation, set up a ballet school teaching and coaching them.

Cupcakes & Conversation with Maia Makhateli, Principal, Dutch National Ballet

a tray of cupcakes
Primrose Bakery supports Ballet News

Cupcakes & Conversation with Maia Makhateli, Principal, Dutch National Ballet

Photograph : Angela Sterling

What motivates you at 8am on a Monday morning?

I’m not really fond of Monday mornings. I find it quite hard to get out of my bed in the morning and I guess it’s just the routine that makes me wake up and go to work. Although, working on an interesting new piece does sometimes motivate me on a Monday morning.

What are you looking forward to dancing next season?

Next season we will be dancing Swan Lake and Giselle, two classics that I have never danced before in my life. I’m really excited about this! Next season will offer a lot of new creations as well and even if I really don’t know yet what I will be dancing, I do very much look forward to it. I like to dance smaller creations besides the classics because they are often modern. Modern ballet teaches me skills that will make me dance the classic ballets even better as well.

Who would you most like to dance with & what would you dance?

I would really like to dance with my brother again (David Makhateli, principal at Royal Ballet). The last time we danced together was in 2000. We did Romeo & Julia together in Japan. Although I really enjoyed the performance, I wouldn’t like to dance a love story together with my brother again; it felt a bit awkward.

If you could dance anywhere in the world (not only in a theatre), where would you dance?

As a theatre I would love to dance in the Acropolis Theatre in Athens, Greece. I would not mind dancing in the water either, it seems like a real challenge to me.

dancer lies on the floor
Programme 'Rondom Rudi' for the occasion of his 75th. birthday. Photograph Angela Sterling

How do you prepare your pointe shoes?

My pointe shoes are from the brand Gaynor Minden and are actually really easy to prepare. It takes me about 15 minutes. The only thing I do is sew on my ribbons and elastics and they’re done! Whereas before I had to put them in the oven, between doors etc.

What is your daily routine at the moment?

I wake up at 8h00, have breakfast. Go to class from 10:00 until 11:15 and then go in and out of rehearsals until 18:00. At 18:00 I go to the supermarket and if I am not too tired I cook. If I am too tired, my boyfriend cooks. We discuss our day, watch some tv and go to sleep.

What do you eat during the course of a typical working day?

I have breakfast with coffee and yoghurt, fruit or a croissant. For lunch I’ll have a salad or a soup. In the evening I have a normal meal like pasta, potatoes, meat or anything like it.

You can ask six famous people to dinner – who would you invite?

Pff, that’s a tough question. I would ask Sting… Nina Simone… John Lennon (if we can invite dead people as well) and… Monica Belucci. I don’t know who else to invite…

What would surprise people about you?

I think people get what they see with me and are not often surprised by who I am or what I do.

Who inspired you to dance?

Definitely my family. My grandfather used to be a famous folk dancer in Georgia. My parents used to be principal dancers at the Georgian National Ballet and are now respected choreographers running their own company, the Makhateli Ballet Academy in Denver, Colorado. It is in my blood to be a dancer and I have never wanted anything else.

What is your best piece of advice?

Try to love everything you do.

How do you prepare in the hours before a show?

I sleep a bit before a performance. Then I warm up, do my hair and make-up, prepare my pointe shoes and listen to music. There is no special routine I cling to.

Cupid, from Don Quixote Photograph : Angela Sterling

Which role has tested you the most & how?

Every role is a test. A role is very individual and the test is to make it your own.

What do you look for in a partner?

I want my partner to be open, a bit humoristic and to create an interesting working sphere.

Do you have a signature step?

I really like to make turns.

What has been your best on-stage moment so far?

Every moment! It always brings a lot of energy and adrenaline in its course when you’re on stage.

Do you have a secret skill which no-one knows about?

If I’d tell you, it wouldn’t be a secret anymore.

In terms of your ballet career, where would you like to be in a year from now?

10 steps higher than I am now. Even though I am a principal dancer now, I always have the feeling I can improve. I am a perfectionist and a performance can always be danced better in my opinion.

If you could dance in front of anyone, who would it be and what makes them special to you?

I would like to perform for Sandra Roelofs, the wife of the Georgian president. It would be an honour for me because she is part of my country now.

Cupcakes & Conversation with Carling Talcott, Corps de ballet, Royal Danish Ballet

 

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Primrose Bakery supports Ballet News

 

Cupcakes & Conversation with Carling Talcott, Corps de ballet, Royal Danish Ballet

 

dancer with ling blakc hair
Carling Talcott

 

 

What motivates you at 8am on a Monday morning? 

As any of my friends or family (or strangers who have had the misfortune to encounter me before 11am) will tell you, I am not a morning person. My brain and general motor skills do not function until I have consumed approximately a vat of coffee, so more often than not, I am jolted awake by a highly unwelcome alarm and thus am not exactly “motivated” at such an early Monday morning hour.

Why ballet?

I was an unusually serious child, and I liked the discipline of class combined with the ability to make physical music. I most enjoyed being able to “show” music, to demonstrate with my body how a piano or a violin might move, if such instruments could be personified through physical activity. I didn’t actually see many professional ballet company performances before I was a bit older–in fact, I can’t honestly recall one event or performance that inspired me to pursue ballet so seriously. When I was six, I just sort of fell in love with it on my own, telling my parents, “Mom, Dad, I’d like to focus on ballet.” Their initial reaction was that I was six, and shouldn’t focus on anything, but they let me give it a shot, and soon enough I was hooked.

What are you looking forward to dancing this year?

Because of my background and training, the repertoire that automatically, naturally appeals to me is the Balanchine and Robbins works we do. I think Symphony in Three Movements is absolutely brilliant, and I honestly enjoy the focus required to count Stravinsky’s score; so I’m very much looking forward to that. I’m also hoping to be part of Jerome Robbins’ The Concert. I’ve never danced it before, but I think it would be so much fun to do. I like being able to be something of a comedienne in a performance, to laugh and make others laugh. That whole program, actually-the Broadway for an Evening night-seems like it will be a lot of fun to do. And of course, I am looking forward to getting to perform Balanchine’s Nutcracker again. It’s the version I grew up with, and revisiting it will be like putting on an old sweater.

Who would you most like to dance with & what would you dance?

I would very much like to share the stage with the uber-cool David Byrne & the Talking Heads, to perform the awkward awesomeness that is the stage choreography for Life During Wartime.

If you could dance anywhere in the world (not only in a theatre), where would you dance?

I know this is a very popular answer, but I have to count myself among the many who have replied with: the Acropolis in Athens, Greece. I have never been to Greece, but would absolutely love to go; when they hosted the Olympics, I came down with a severe case of wanderlust for the country. And the idea of dancing outdoors in such a historic, beautiful setting is more than irresistible. 

very young dancer in pink tutu
a future ballerina ?

How do you prepare your pointe shoes?

I’ve recently fallen for an incredibly time-consuming, mildly messy method to perfect my Freed Classics. Before I do anything else, I take a hobby knife and shave the entire outer bottom sole down, so that it is very flat against the satin. When that is finished, I use the knife to make four incisions, evenly spaced to span the middle of the newly shaved outer sole. Next, I pop out the nails in the shanks and use the hobby knife to (carefully!) divide the shank in half, from the heel up to about the middle of the shoe. I rip the top “slice” of the shank off, making the section running from the heel to mid-shoe a thinner layer of cardboard than before. I cut the satin off of the tips of both shoes. After that, I sew criss-crossed elastics and Flexers ribbons on both shoes. Finally, I step on the boxes and crush the glue below and around the box. I figure out which is left and which is right, label each, and after about an hour or so of sculpting and sewing, one pair of shoes is ready to go. 

What is your daily routine at the moment?

At the moment, I wake up between 7:30-8, and have coffee and muesli at home before biking to the theatre at around 8:45 or 9 (depending on how bleary-eyed I am on the given morning). Class is from 10-11:30; it is optional, but my physical and mental makeup don’t really do well without ballerina class. If it’s a performance day, rehearsals will run from 11:30-3, with a half hour break for lunch. Performances are usually at 8, so we have a good amount of time to go home, eat, nap, etc. If it’s a non-performance day, we rehearse from 11:30-4, with a 45 minute lunch break, and the occasional evening call from 4:15-6. Right now, we are rehearsing for our four week America tour during the day and doing performances of our “Balletaften” program some evenings, so our schedule is fairly busy.

What do you eat during the course of a typical working day?

Because I cannot complete many basic mental or physical functions in the morning, breakfast is always coffee and muesli. I keep trail mix (and, ok, candy) in my dressing room, so if I have two minutes after class or in between rehearsals, I’ll run there and grab something to keep me going until lunch. I have a fondness for sandwiches, so more often than not, it’ll be some sort of meat and cheese sandwich for lunch. When I get home from work, I’ll have a juice and snack on dried figs or cheese or something to tide me over until dinner. My boyfriend does the cooking-I burn toast-so dinner is always something different. More often than not, it’ll involve some kind of meat and veggies, or dressed-up pasta. (If it’s a lazy day, Thai or Italian takeaway is always an option.) And on performance days, I’ll eat dinner at the cafeteria in the theatre, since I get there fairly early anyway.

You can ask six famous people to dinner – who would you invite?

David Sedaris, Karl Lagerfeld, Sophie Calle, Ingo Maurer, Steve Buscemi, and Helena Bonham-Carter. It would be a motley crew, and would most definitely involve crème brulee.   

What would surprise people about you?

I feel quite vulnerable most of the time, like an open book, so I’m not sure anything would surprise people about me. I know how to transform a child’s diaper into one that could fit a female dog. I suppose this would be an unexpected ability. Also, I can speak Pig Latin. I am still waiting for Google Translate to recognize it as a legitimate language.  

dancer in long blue dress on stage in pointe shoes
George Balanchine's Serenade Photograph : David Amzallag

Who inspired you to dance?

As I said earlier, I became obsessed with ballet before I really understood that “the grownups” could do it too – so my inspiration came much later. I was lucky to have teachers like Lourdes Lopez, Barbara Sandonato, and Carter Alexander; in terms of dancers, I was always inspired by Allegra Kent, Wendy Whelan, Miranda Weese…dancers who brought unbelievable artistry to “plotless” neoclassical works. 

What is your best piece of advice?

I’m not sure I’m the best person to give out advice! The best advice I have received in life is to do what you love; to be happy (in favour of extreme neuroses); to take things one day at a time; and not to live your life according to a purely pragmatic mindset. Life is too short to be practical all of the time. It’s okay to be a little bit bonkers, to dance around the apartment while folding the laundry, to smash a chipped glass on the kitchen floor to see if it really is unbreakable as advertised–not that I have ever been a part of such activities, specifically. 

How do you prepare in the hours before a show?

Depending on the performance, I will vary my routine slightly, but it’s usually generally the same. I’ll get to the theatre two hours before curtain, and go up to the lovely hairdressers to have them coax my mane into something resembling a ladylike hairstyle. Then I’ll attempt to put on acceptable stage makeup–this skill, I’m still learning–and figure out which pointe shoes I need for the evening. An hour before curtain, I’ll do a barre and some releves on pointe in centre, as well as any steps I’m nervous about (in Etudes, this would be the releve section and a few practice fouettes). Twenty minutes before the performance starts, I’ll get into costume. I try to be down onstage before we have to clear; it calms me down to have a few minutes in the space before the curtain rises. 

Which role has tested you the most & how?

Mentally, I think learning the Pas de Quatre from Peter Martins’ Swan Lake in 24 hours–and performing it without a real stage rehearsal or full run-through–was a fantastic challenge for me. I didn’t have time to be nervous; I had to shelve my paranoia and endless “what ifs” and just place complete trust in myself. I think recapturing that feeling, experienced in such a whirlwind situation, in the future will be like trying to capture lightning in a bottle. But artistically, the role that tested me the most was actually a seemingly tiny one: the “flower girl” in John Neumeier’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. She literally runs onstage before the wedding scene begins, picks a flower from a set bouquet, smells it, and runs offstage. For me, though, conveying the proper innocence, optimism, and extreme femininity proved difficult. I had to do that seemingly-nothing bit over and over again in rehearsal. Indulging in my “girly” side has never come easily to me, and I found this part quite challenging.

dancer being held by male dancer
Jerome Robbins' West Side Story Suite Photograph : Jens Otto Nielsen

If you were asked to design your own ballet costume, what would you create?

I have worn a unitard with a men’s dance belt to portray a dead hermaphrodite cow (in Nikolaj Hubbe’s new version of Bournonville’s A Folktale), so I am really not very picky when it comes to costumes. I am no designer, but I would like someone to figure out a costume that actually properly fits my weird-shaped torso…that would be lovely!

What do you look for in a dance partner?

Someone who’s willing to dance with me! No, but kidding aside, I like to work with people who take the rehearsal process seriously, but who can also have a laugh. A sense of humour in the studio is always wonderful. If a step won’t work or proves difficult, rehearsals and corrections and hard work can fix it. You might as well enjoy the process. 

What is your favourite quote?

I have several, but the one I most often remind myself of is quite simple: “Be happy.” I have a tendency, in times of stress, to worry about nothing and everything; my brain goes into overdrive conceiving increasingly neurotic hypothetical situations, most of which will not, in all likelihood, transpire at all. One day quite recently, my boyfriend finally looked at me and said, “Just…be happy. Right now.” And so I try to remind myself to breathe, and to take things one day at a time, and to be happy. 

Do you have a ‘signature step’ – one that comes naturally to you?

I’m a fairly awkward person most of the time, so I’m not sure anything–ballet, walking, not getting my shoelaces caught in my bike pedals–comes naturally to me! But I will say the things I enjoy most in class or in choreography are turns, petit allegro, and huge traveling steps. I do like to move big.

A phrase I use far too often is …?

I think I have uttered the phrase “I’m sorry” so much that it has, when coming out of my mouth, lost all meaning. I mostly say “sorry” when I don’t know what else to say. I also say “I’m not sayin’, I’m just sayin'” quite a lot. I’m not sure why, other than for a glimmer of comedic effect. 

dancer in high jump on pointe
Peter Martins' Swan Lake pas de quatre Photograph : David Amzallag

What’s been your best on-stage moment so far?

I won’t say I have had a best onstage moment, not yet, in my career. But I do remember after the last performance of our 18-show run of Swan Lake earlier this season, there was such a united feeling of, “Holy mackerel, we did it!” among the corps girls as the curtain came down. Most of us had been performing two, three, or even all four acts for the last 18 performances, and emotionally, mentally, physically, we had been running a marathon for almost two months. It was an incredible feeling that we had really accomplished something beautiful together. 

Do you have a secret skill which no-one knows about?

A few people know this about me, but I was on a baton twirling team for several years in elementary school and can still do a couple of passages from our routine to “The Locomotion.” I can also do the MC Hammer dance, though I’m not sure this is something I should be putting on the internet.

In terms of your ballet career, where would you like to be in a year from now?

I don’t like to have specific roles or titles or anything like that in mind when answering this type of question. Over the course of this past year alone, for instance, I have come to realize (and perhaps this is unpopular to admit) that there is a whole big, completely fascinating world outside the realm of ballet that I have a strong urge to explore in my life, and that my time, like every other dancer’s, in this profession does have an expiration date. As a result, I have come to place a greater importance on striving to find a balance between enjoying my work and having a personal life offstage; this growth process has not been smooth–my family and boyfriend can tell you this!–but has been productive. So I will only say that a year from now I hope to be personally and professionally happy and healthy, to have better mastered the art of living in the present, to have further achieved a balance between my ballet life and my personal life, and to have the feeling that I have grown both as a dancer and as a human being over the course of 12 months.  

dancer in high jump in pointe shoes and red dress
Christopher Wheeldon's Sleeping Beauty fairy of temperament Photograph : David Amzallag

If you could dance in front of anyone, who would it be and what makes them special to you?

There are people in this world who view artists as frivolous people, whose work is not truly “important” to today’s society. Perhaps we as performers are not curing cancer, or ending wars, or solving any great mysteries of the universe. But I believe that people who come to the theatre do so to forget, for two hours or so, about all of those pressing global (and daily, personal) concerns. I believe that as dancers, part of our job is to bring people to another place and time for a short period, so that the audience may escape the harsh reality of the current times. As someone who consciously avoids overdosing on world news for the sole purpose of averting personal depression and anxiety, I would most enjoy dancing for anyone who needs even five minutes of freedom from the chaotic nature of the world we currently live in.

Cupcakes & Conversation with Natalia Kremen, Artist, English National Ballet

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Primrose Bakery supports Ballet NEWS

Cupcakes & Conversation with Natalia Kremen, Artist, English National Ballet 

dancer headshot
Natalia Kremen Photograph : Thomas Edur

You can see Natalia performing Suite en Blanc as part of Black & White with English National Ballet at the London Coliseum from 16 – 19 March.  Tickets £10 – £50. The performance dates are : Wednesday 16 March at 7.30pm, Thursday 17 March at 7.30pm, Friday 18 March at 7.30pm, Saturday 19 March at 2.30pm and 7.30pm.  Casting details will follow shortly.

What motivates you at 8am on a Monday morning? 

For me the morning is the hardest part of the day. I can stay awake late into the night, but to get up early is always very difficult. So I can’t really say what motivates me at 8am (because I’m still in bed at this time!). But the best motivation is my husband making me breakfast! 

Why ballet? 

My father was a ballet dancer. So, from the age of 3 I was going to different theatres. But he never wanted me to follow his footsteps; because he went through all the difficulties of a dancer’s life and he didn’t want me to know about aching pain in muscles, tears, toe blisters, competitions between classmates, injustice, injuries, jitters and all the rest. But one day our friend told us about a big audition taking place at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy (100 kids for one place). My parents decided to try and I was lucky to be chosen. 

dancer in arabesque in Giselle
Photograph : David Makhateli

What are you looking forward to dancing in 2011? 

At the moment I’m rehearsing a programme called Black and White, which will take a place at the London Coliseum in March. One of the pieces will be Suite en Blanc by Serge Lifar which is very interesting and challenging. It looks very simple but it’s hard to keep the right style through all the steps. In July we are dancing three pieces choreographed by ballet legend, Roland Petit. There are few companies that do his work and in my opinion we at ENB are very fortunate to have his repertory. I am looking forward to work with him. Last but not least I hope to get another chance to dance this year with my husband, David Makhateli (Principal dancer at The Royal Ballet

Who would you most like to dance with & what would you dance? 

As I just said I love to dance with David. First of all he is a great dancer and we know and feel each other so well. We can express all emotions and not be shy (for example as Romeo and Juliet). Besides he is a really good and caring partner. I am 100% safe in his hands. My favourite work to dance with him would be Manon. 

dancer on stage in Romeo & Juliet
Photograph : Daria Klimentová

If you could dance anywhere in the world (not only in a theatre), where would you dance? 

There are many beautiful and famous theatres and places; but there is one stage which really impressed me and that is the Herod Atticus Odeon Amphitheatre in Athens, Greece. Last autumn, David organised a big Gala Tribute to Rudolf Nureyev at the Herod Atticus Odeon. We danced the pas de deux from Raymonda and from the first steps I felt something special. During our pas de deux we could see the beautiful Parthenon on top of the mountain. It feels like you receive an enormous amount of energy, calmness and inspiration. It’s a magical place. I would love to dance there again. 

How do you prepare your pointe shoes? 

I sew them in my own way. I prefer to rehearse in pointe shoes without ribbons, only with wide elastic and I put ribbons on just for the show. My teachers told me that your feet should speak when you dance. 

What is your daily routine at the moment? 

Early mornings are hard! It feels like I’m glued to my pillow because it’s so hard to wake up; then, breakfast (I can’t miss it!); ballet class (which wakes me up nicely); rehearsals of Suite en Blanc (which always inspire me); lunch (which is quite full because usually I don’t have dinner); some more rehearsals and then back home (or theatres, friends, exhibitions). 

You can ask six famous people to dinner – who would you invite

I would choose members of my family because I miss my parents so much and even when I am home in Moscow I never have enough time to spend with them. They are a very important part of my life. 

What would surprise people about you? 

I love horse riding. It gives me so much emotional energy, happiness and power. I hope one day that I’ll have my own horse. And I love cooking. 

Natalia poses in black dress  

Who inspired you to dance? 

My father at first, and my mother especially in helping and supporting me in difficult times; then my great teachers – N.Grinberg, G.Krapivina and prima ballerina of Bolshoi Theater, N.Sorokina, and later dancers like Sylvie Guillem, Bernice Coppieters and Alessandra Ferri. 

What is your best piece of advice? 

Ballet is not a sport. It’s not just about high legs, big jumps and a hundred pirouettes. You should have charisma and dance with your soul. 

How do you prepare in the hours before a show? 

I am not doing anything special. Just trying to rest during the day (if I have time for it). Do my own makeup and hair, warming up and always trying to stay calm. 

Which role has tested you the most & how? 

I would say Giselle. You have to control each centimetre of your body; be strong inside so it looks effortless, light and weightless for the audience. 

two dancers rehearsing Giselle
Natalia & David rehearsing Giselle Photograph : Oleg Micheev

If you were asked to design your own ballet costume, what would you create? 

I would ask a professional designer to do it. It’s not my profession! 

What do you look for in a dance partner? 

First of all he has to know how to partner, be attentive, passionate and inspiring. 

What is your favorite quote? 

The artist is nothing without the gift, but the gift is nothing without work’. EMILE ZOLA 

two dancers on stage in golden tutus
Raymonda (with David Makhateli) Photograph : John Kanellopoulos

Do you have a ‘signature step’ – one that comes naturally to you? 

In every step there is a little bit of my signature (joke). I love big jumps like Grande Jeté En Avant and Entrechats. 

A phrase I use far too often is … ? 

“I have to!” 

What’s been your best on-stage moment so far? 

Nothing can ever compare with your very first appearance on stage. It was in school. 

Do you have a secret skill which no-one knows about? 

I don’t share my secrets. 

dancer in arabseque
Photograph : Daria Klimentová

In terms of your ballet career, where would you like to be in a year from now? 

I don’t like to plan so far ahead. Time will show. 

If you could dance in front of anyone, who would it be and what makes them special to you? 

It would be great to perform in front of all my teachers, family members and friends so they can see that their work, help and support didn’t go to waste.

Cupcakes & Conversation with Christine Shevchenko, Corps de ballet, American Ballet Theatre

 

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Primrose Bakery supports Ballet NEWS

Cupcakes & Conversation with Christine Shevchenko, Corps de ballet, American Ballet Theatre

Christine Shevchenko Photograph by : Paul B. Goode

Christine Shevchenko was born in Odessa, Ukraine where she was chosen to train in rhythmic gymnastics and ballet at an Olympic School. At the age of eight, she moved to the United States and spent the next nine years studying at Pennsylvania Ballet’s Rock School.  Shevchenko danced the children’s lead in Pennsylvania Ballet’s The Nutcracker for three years, and was featured in the NBC special Degas and the Dance. In 2002 she was invited to perform with International Ballet Theatre Company’s “Stars of Kirov, Bolshoi and Ukrainian Ballet” in Annapolis, Maryland.  In 2003, Shevchenko became the youngest recipient of the Princess Grace Award.  Other awards include the Bronze Medal in the USA International Ballet Competition in Jackson, Mississippi, 2005 Gold Medal and Title of Laureate at the Moscow International Ballet Competition and the George Zoritch of “Ballet Russe“ Award for Talent Recognition.  She danced leading and soloist roles from Don Quixote, The Sleeping Beauty, The Nutcracker, Harlequinade, The Flames of Paris, Grand Pas Classique, Le Corsaire, Paquita, La Bayadère, and Balanchine’s Symphony in C.  She also performed various contemporary pieces by many choreographers that included Caprice #1 specially choreographed by Benjamin Millepied for a competition.

Shevchenko joined American Ballet Theatre’s Studio Company (now ABT II) in August 2006 where she performed classical and contemporary pieces including the pas de deux from August Bournonville’s Flower Festival at Genzano, Lilac Garden and Continuo by Anthony Tudor, and Eyes that Gently Touch by Kirk Peterson, along with other pieces.  She joined American Ballet Theatre as an apprentice in December 2007 and the corps de ballet in June 2008.

Her repertoire with the Company includes a Shade in La Bayadére, Nanine in Lady of the Camellias, a role in Seven Sonatas, Fairy of Joy in The Sleeping Beauty, as well as roles in all of the full-length ballets. She created a role in Everything Doesn’t Happen at Once.

What motivates you at 8am on a Tuesday morning?

The excitement of the beginning of another week rehearsing or performing.  

Why ballet?

I have loved to dance for as long as I can remember. Ballet is one of the most beautiful forms of dance there is.

What are you looking forward to dancing in the new season? 

I’m looking forward to dancing Alexei Ratmansky’s new production The Nutcracker and The Bright Stream.  Most recently, dancing in Cuba has been an incredible experience. And next, we are off to Washington, D.C., London, and Moscow in 2011.

Who would you most like to dance with & what would you dance?

Vladimir Malakhov in Giselle.

If you could dance anywhere in the world (not only in a theatre), where would you dance?

Greece.

How do you prepare your pointe shoes?

After sewing the ribbons and elastic, I soften the box by beating them with a hammer.  For performances, I stitch the tip of the box.

What is your daily routine at the moment?

Class starts every morning at 10:15am and I come to work earlier to stretch. Then I rehearse throughout the day till 6-7pm

You can ask six famous people to dinner – who would you invite?

Maya Plisetskaya, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Hillary Clinton, Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn, Coco Channel.

What would surprise people about you?

That I like to bake and cook.

Who inspired you to dance?

My mom.

What is your best piece of advice?

Whatever you choose to do in life, go for it!

How do you prepare in the hours before a show?

Nap with feet up, do hair and makeup.  I say a short prayer in the wing before the performance starts.

ballet, Seven Sonatas, Christine
Christine in Seven Sonatas Photograph : by Rosalie O’Connor

Which role has tested you the most & how?

The Shades trio in La Bayadére. It is a pure classical piece that demands precise technique in white tutus.

If you were asked to design your own ballet costume, what would you create?

I would do a chiffon dress with lace or mesh.

What do you look for in a dance partner?

Someone who complements me as a dancer and who does what is best for me.

What is your favorite quote?

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined – by Henry David Thoreau

Do you have a ‘signature step’ – one that comes naturally to you?

The jump from Don Quixote where you bend backwards with your leg bent in attitude.

A phrase I use far too often is …?

“oh my gosh.”

What’s been your best on-stage moment so far?

So far, it has been the first time I danced Sir Frederick Ashton’s Birthday Offering, which was set for seven principal ballerinas of The Royal Ballet.

Do you have a secret skill which no-one knows about?

It’s a secret.

In terms of your ballet career, where would you like to be in a year from now?

I would like to be dancing full-length ballets.

Onassis Cultural Centre opens to house dance

ONASSIS CULTURAL CENTRE OPENS IN ATHENS IN NOVEMBER 2010 WITH MAJOR INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE

Ballet NEWS Onassis Cultural Centre-Athens
Onassis Cultural Centre-Athens

The Onassis Cultural Centre will open in Athens in November 2010, providing an important new cultural space for the city and the first public facility for The Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation. Two days of celebrations in early December for invited cultural leaders, followed by two free days of special public events, will help inaugurate the Centre, which will offer the people of Athens and their visitors a wealth of programmes and presentations in the contemporary performing arts, fine arts and letters.
 
The Centre, with a total surface area of 18,000 sq. m, is being constructed on an entire block on Syngrou Avenue in the heart of Athens. Housed in a striking, minimalist building of glass and white marble designed by Architecture-Studio, the Centre includes:
 
•            a 874-seat hall suitable for concerts, opera, dance, theatre, film and conferences
•            a 217-seat hall for more intimate performance events and lectures
•            a 7,500-square-foot exhibition gallery
•            outdoor theatre space
•            compact installation of works from the Foundation’s art collection, including sculptures by Rodin and Bourdelle
•            additional exhibition, meeting and performance spaces
•            amenities including a restaurant and an entrance-level bar
 
For the first major programme in the new Centre, the Onassis Foundation will join with eight leading institutions to present The Athens Dialogues, an international conference that considers contemporary global issues and challenges in the light of the Hellenic cultural legacy.
 
Collaborating with the Foundation in organising The Athens Dialogues are the Academy of Athens; the Accademia dei Lincei, Rome; the Austrian Academy of Sciences; the German Archaeological Institute; Harvard University’s Center for Hellenic Studies; the Institut de France; Oxford University; and Stanford University.
 
Spread over four days of discussions that will range freely across academic disciplines and historical periods, the conference will offer six thematic sessions, on Identity and Difference, Stories and Histories, Logos and Art, Democracy and Politeia, Science and Ethics, and Quality of Life.
 
Approximately 800 scholars and scientists from around the world will participate in the sessions, with a third of participants made up of young scholars, artists and scientists recruited through a competition organised in collaboration with the Greek chapter of EUNIC (European Union National Institutes for Culture).
 
 
The Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation
The Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation was established in 1975 upon the death of shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis, in memory of his son Alexander. Programme activities advance the Foundation’s mission to establish, maintain and assist medical, educational, literary, religious, scientific, exploratory, journalistic and artistic endeavours and to promote Hellenic culture and studies. The affiliated Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation (USA) was established in New York City in 1999 and inaugurated its activities in 2000.

More information can be found at:  www.athensdialogues.org
                                                       www.onassis.gr

Ballet NEWs Onassis Cultural Centre-Athens
Onassis Cultural Centre-Athens

The Athens Dialogues, 24-27 November 2010