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David Hallberg to Become The Australian Ballet's Next Artistic Director

David Hallberg. Daniel Boud, Courtesy The Australian Ballet.

Yesterday evening, international ballet star David Hallberg took fans by surprise with an exciting announcement: In 2021, he will become the artistic director of The Australian Ballet. Hallberg will follow in the footsteps of current director David McAllister, who's been at the helm for nearly 20 years.


Hallberg is no stranger to The Australian Ballet. He's currently a resident guest artist at the Melbourne-based company, in addition to his positions as principal dancer at American Ballet Theatre and the Bolshoi Ballet, and principal guest artist at The Royal Ballet. Hallberg has regularly guested at The Australian Ballet since 2010, and in 2014, after he was sidelined by a serious ankle injury, he spent 14 months in Melbourne working with the company's celebrated medical team. His return to the stage, in 2016, took place with The Australian Ballet in Sydney, where he debuted in the role of Franz in Coppélia.

Though Hallberg has thrilled audiences worldwide since then, he's also take on new offstage challenges. In 2017 he published a memoir, and the following year directed ABT Incubator, a new choreographic program.

And while Hallberg jumps into this directorship without ever having run a company, his career has given him an unprecedented view inside some of the world's greatest theaters. In 2011 he became the Bolshoi's first ever American principal, and as a teenager he spent a year training at the Paris Opéra Ballet School, where he was the only non-French student in his class. He's also guested at La Scala, and toured with frequent partner Natalia Osipova. "I look forward to using the experience I've garnered over my 20-year career around the world and funneling it into the culture of The Australian Ballet," said Hallberg in a statement. "The future looks very bright for this world class company."

Fans of Hallberg's elegant prowess onstage will have through the end of next year to see him perform. He told The New York Times that he has "some performance commitments through 2021," including his official retirement during ABT's 2021 Metropolitan Opera House season, but stressed that he has no intention of performing with The Australian Ballet. Meanwhile, ABT just announced that Hallberg will be taking on the roles of Romeo and Albrecht during the company's upcoming 2020 Met season, a treat for local balletomanes before Hallberg heads to his new home down under.

Higher Ed
The author, Robyn Watson. Photo courtesy Watson

Recently, I posted a thread of tweets elucidating the lack of respect for tap dance in college dance programs, and arguing that it should be a requirement for dance majors.

According to onstageblog.com, out of the 30 top-ranked college dance programs in the U.S., tap dance is offered at 19 of them, but only one school requires majors to take more than a beginner course—Oklahoma City University. Many prestigious dance programs, like the ones at NYU Tisch School of the Arts and SUNY Purchase, don't offer a single course in tap dance.

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Teaching Tips
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After months of lockdowns and virtual learning, many studios across the country are opening their doors and returning to in-person classes. Teachers and students alike have likely been chomping at the bit in anticipation of the return of dance-class normalcy that doesn't require a reliable internet connection or converting your living room into a dance space.

But along with the back-to-school excitement, dancers might be feeling rusty from being away from the studio for so long. A loss of flexibility, strength and stamina is to be expected, not to mention emotional fatigue from all of the uncertainty and reacclimating to social activities.

So as much as everyone wants to get back to normal—teachers and studio owners included—erring on the side of caution with your dancers' training will be the most beneficial approach in the long run.

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Teachers Trending
Photo courtesy TUPAC

When legendary Black ballet dancer Kabby Mitchell III died unexpectedly in 2017, two months before opening his Tacoma Urban Performing Arts Center, his friend and business partner Klair Ethridge wasn't sure she had what it took to carry his legacy. Ethridge had been working with Mitchell to co-found TUPAC and planned to serve as its executive director, but she had never envisioned being the face of the school.

Now, Ethridge is heading into her fourth year of leading TUPAC, which she has grown from a fledgling program in an unheated building to a serious ballet school in its own sprung-floor studios, reaching hundreds of students across the Tacoma, Washington, area. The nonprofit has become a case study for what it looks like to carry out the vision of a founder who never had the chance to see his school open—and to take an unapologetically mission-driven approach.

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