Behind the Scenes at American Ballet Theatre's Dress Rehearsal

Gillian Murphy and David Hallberg in "The Dream"

Yesterday I had the pleasure of seeing American Ballet Theatre’s dress rehearsals of Frederick Ashton’s The Dream (based on Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream) and Alexei Ratmansky’s fairly new The Tempest (also Shakespeare). The casts I viewed are scheduled to perform tonight—it's the closing week for ABT's spring season at The Metropolitan Opera House. I was impressed by the poise of dancers and staff at the rehearsal, which required juggling full costumes, an orchestra, massive props (including a fully moveable sunken ship) and scenery. No one was short on stamina, either: Herman Cornejo, as Puck in The Dream, must’ve jumped 100 times and completed something like 50 pirouettes. Cory Stearns, meanwhile, danced the lead in both ballets of the dress rehearsal.

Mistakes were fixed in two ways: A rehearsal director seated in the audience with a microphone announced spacing issues or minor, easily fixed slip ups (“Sarah, you need to be more stage left” was a correction I heard); bigger problems, like music cues gone awry or stubborn scenery, briefly stopped the run until the issue was fixed. Like the professionals they are, none of the dancers were distracted by these corrections or lost character.

Marcelo Gomes and Daniil Simkin in "The Tempest"

 

Presumably to conserve their energy (many of these dancers, including the corps, were scheduled to perform other parts later that night), the dancers would occasionally mark steps or skip big lifts. As a dancer myself, I was particularly intrigued by which steps they chose not to do full-out—were those just the most physically taxing? Or were they the more challenging moves that the dancers didn’t yet feel comfortable attempting in front of a (limited) audience?

By the rehearsal’s end, I found myself with a renewed appreciation for the ABT dancers' work ethic.

 

Photos from top: by Gene Schiavone; by Fabrizio Ferri, both courtesy of ABT

Teaching Tips
Justin Boccitto teaches a hybrid class. Photo courtesy Boccitto

Just as teachers were getting comfortable with teaching virtual classes, many studios are adding an extra challenge into the mix: in-person students learning alongside virtual students. Such hybrid classes are meant to keep class sizes down and to give students options to take class however they're comfortable.

But dividing your attention between virtual students and masked and socially distant in-person students—and giving them each a class that meets their needs—is no easy feat.

Dance Teacher asked four teachers what they've learned so far.

Keep reading... Show less
Teachers Trending
All photos by Ryan Heffington

"Annnnnnnd—we're back!"

Ryan Heffington is kneeling in front of his iPhone, looking directly into the camera, smiling behind his bushy mustache. He's in his house in the desert near Joshua Tree, California, phone propped on the floor so it stays steady, his bright shorty shorts, tank top and multiple necklaces in full view. Music is already playing—imagine you're at a club—and soon he's swaying and bouncing from side to side, the beat infusing his bones.

Keep reading... Show less
Teachers Trending
Evelyn Cisneros-Legate. Photo by Beau Pearson, Courtesy Ballet West

Evelyn Cisneros-Legate is bringing her hard-earned expertise to Ballet West. The former San Francisco Ballet star is taking over all four campuses of The Frederick Quinney Lawson Ballet West Academy as the school's new director.

Cisneros-Legate, whose mother put her in ballet classes in an attempt to help her overcome her shyness, trained at the San Francisco Ballet School and School of American Ballet before joining San Francisco Ballet as a full company member in 1977. She danced with the company for 23 years, breaking barriers as the first Mexican American to become a principal dancer in the U.S., and has graced the cover of Dance Magazine no fewer than three times.

As an educator, Cisneros-Legate has served as ballet coordinator at San Francisco Ballet, principal of Boston Ballet School's North Shore Studio and artistic director of after-school programming at the National Dance Institute (NDI). Dance Teacher spoke with her about her new position, her plans for the academy and leading in the time of COVID-19.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.