City.ballet." Recap: Episode 10, “Finale

All good things must come to an end, and this is the (relative) end of “city.ballet.”—though the entire season will continue to live online, for your repeated viewing pleasure. In classic wrap-up style, several of the New York City Ballet dancers talk about their non-ballet interests, stressing the need to have a life outside of the theater to maintain sanity and even improve personal artistry. Ashley Bouder is in school, pursuing a degree in political science; Georgina Pazcoguin has her real estate license; Sara Mearns is learning to be a true New Yorker; Megan Fairchild talks about wanting to start a family. If anything, this web series has done a commendable job of reminding viewers that professional dancers are people, not stereotypes.

That’s not to diminish their obviously intense obsession with and love for their jobs as ballet dancers, however. When Ashley Bouder speaks of how performing is “something you can have only with a lover, but you can have it with everybody onstage,” it’s easy to remember why so many of us relentlessly pursue this artform.

Can’t get enough of “city.ballet.”? Don’t worry—there are plenty of extras on Check out the “Behind the Scenes” mini videos, with titles like “The Hair” (there is much hairspray), “Outside the Box” (apparently most NYCB dancers have sailor mouths, once offstage), “The Shoes” (it took Ashley Bouder two years to find a version of a new pointe shoe that she felt completely comfortable with), “The Makeup” (hello, pancake faces!) and “If I Wasn’t Dancing” (the Angle brothers think they might have a future in music).  An added perk is that several of these mini-episodes are conducted by Sarah Jessica Parker! Feel free to be starstruck.

Mary Malleney, courtesy Osato

In most classes, dancers are encouraged to count the music, and dance with it—emphasizing accents and letting the rhythm of a song guide them.

But Marissa Osato likes to give her students an unexpected challenge: to resist hitting the beats.

In her contemporary class at EDGE Performing Arts Center in Los Angeles (which is now closed, until they find a new space), she would often play heavy trap music. She'd encourage her students to find the contrast by moving in slow, fluid, circular patterns, daring them to explore the unobvious interpretation of the steady rhythms.

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For Parents

Darrell Grand Moultrie teaches at a past Jacob's Pillow summer intensive. Photo Christopher Duggan, courtesy Jacob's Pillow

In the past 10 months, we've grown accustomed to helping our dancers navigate virtual school, classes and performances. And while brighter, more in-person days may be around the corner—or at least on the horizon—parents may be facing yet another hurdle to help our dancers through: virtual summer-intensive auditions.

In 2020, we learned that there are some unique advantages of virtual summer programs: the lack of travel (and therefore the reduced cost) and the increased access to classes led by top artists and teachers among them. And while summer 2021 may end up looking more familiar with in-person intensives, audition season will likely remain remote and over Zoom.

Of course, summer 2021 may not be back to in-person, and that uncertainty can be a hard pill to swallow. Here, Kate Linsley, a mom and academy principal of Nashville Ballet, as well as "J.R." Glover, The Dan & Carole Burack Director of The School at Jacob's Pillow, share their advice for this complicated process.

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Teachers Trending

From left: Anthony Crickmay, Courtesy Dance Theatre of Harlem Archives; Courtesy Ballethnic

It is the urgency of going in a week or two before opening night that Lydia Abarca Mitchell loves most about coaching. But in her role as Ballethnic Dance Company's rehearsal director, she's not just getting the troupe ready for the stage. Abarca Mitchell—no relation to Arthur Mitchell—was Mitchell's first prima ballerina when he founded Dance Theatre of Harlem with Karel Shook; through her coaching, Abarca Mitchell works to pass her mentor's legacy to the next generation.

"She has the same sensibility" as Arthur Mitchell, says Ballethnic co-artistic director Nena Gilreath. "She's very direct, all about the mission and the excellence, but very caring."

Ballethnic is based in East Point, a suburban city bordering Atlanta. In a metropolitan area with a history of racism and where funding is hard-won, it is crucial for the Black-led ballet company to present polished, professional productions. "Ms. Lydia" provides the "hard last eye" before the curtain opens in front of an audience.

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