Site Network
Michael Jackson performing in 1992. Via Wikimedia

If you love Michael Jackson, you'll love this news: A pre-Broadway run of the MJ jukebox musical will hit Chicago this fall.

Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough boasts more than 25 MJ hits and has set its premiere for October 29. As previously reported, Christopher Wheeldon will direct and choreograph the new musical, while Lynn Nottage pens the book.

Keep reading... Show less
Just for fun
Royal Winnipeg Ballet revived Lila York's adaptation of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale earlier this month. Photo by David Cooper, Courtesy RWB

When American Ballet Theatre announced yesterday that it would be adding Jane Eyre to its stable of narrative full-lengths, the English nerds in the DM offices (read: most of us) got pretty excited. Cathy Marston's adaptation of Charlotte Brontë's classic novel was created for England's Northern Ballet in 2016, and, based on the clips that have made their way online, it seems like a perfect fit for ABT's Met Opera season.

It also got us thinking about what other classic novels we'd love to see adapted into ballets—but then we realized just how many there already are. From Russian epics to beloved children's books, here are 10 of our favorites that have already made the leap from page to stage. (Special shoutout to Northern Ballet, the undisputed MVP of turning literature into live performance.)


Northern Ballet in David Nixon's The Great Gatsby (F. Scott Fitzgerald)

Star-crossed lovers? Check. Wild party scenes? Check. The 1920s aesthetic is just bonus.

Dutch National Ballet in John Cranko's Onegin (Alexander Pushkin)

It's a novel in verse, but it still counts! Cranko's pas de deux work vividly paints the emotional turmoil of Pushkin's characters, such as this sequence in which Tatiana imagines being loved by the haughty Onegin.

The Royal Ballet in Liam Scarlett's Frankenstein (Mary Shelley)

It's spooky, it's sensational, it's a deep meditation on the nature of humanity—oh, and it's alive.

Northern Ballet in David Nixon's The Three Musketeers (Alexandre Dumas)

All for one and one for all! (And we're all in for this epic fight choreography the dancers took to a famous Abbey in their hometown of Leeds, England.)

Charlotte Ballet in Sasha Janes' Wuthering Heights (Emily Brontë)

The Brontë sisters had a knack for writing complex, tempestuous relationships—great fodder for pas de deux like this one.

The Washington Ballet in Septime Webre's Peter Pan (J. M. Barrie)

Sword-fighting, pirates, pixie dust and a ticking crocodile? This one simply flies off the page.

Hamburg Ballet in John Neumeier's Anna Karenina (Leo Tolstoy)

Some would argue that Tolstoy's epic is the greatest literature ever written, but you can't argue with the fact that the titular heroine is a deliciously complex character to tackle.

The Royal Ballet in Christopher Wheeldon's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (Lewis Carroll)

Why is a raven like a writing desk? We still might not know the answer to Carroll's riddle, but we do know that Wheeldon's blockbuster production is so full of incredible moments (like Steven McRae stealing the show as a tap-dancing Mad Hatter) that we had trouble narrowing it down.

Atlanta Ballet in Michael Pink's Dracula (Bram Stoker)

There's a reason it seemed at one point like every ballet company in America had a production of Dracula in its repertoire.

Northern Ballet in Jonathan Watkins' 1984 (George Orwell)

Just in case the dystopian nightmare conjured by Orwell wasn't vivid enough in your own imagination.

Just for fun
Gillian Murphy spent some time in Canada this summer. Image via Instagram @gillianemurphy

We'll admit it: As excited as we are for fall performance season to start, we are in deep, deep denial that the end of summer is in sight. And we're also experiencing some serious FOMO looking at the vacation photos flooding our Instagram feeds from some of our favorite dancers and choreographers. So where in the world do they go to unwind before gifting us with yet another season of incredible dance?

Keep reading... Show less
Isabella Boylston and Calvin Royal III in Christopher Wheeldon's This Bitter Earth. Photo by Erin Baiano, courtesy of New York City Center

To celebrate the 10-year anniversary of Damian Woetzel's leadership at the Vail International Dance Festival, a new four-day event will be held in New York City, November 3–6. Vail Dance Festival: ReMix NYC brings three programs to New York City Center, along with a special lecture/demonstration focused on footwork, hosted by Woetzel. Featured performers include: Lil Buck, Michelle Dorrance, Wendy Whelan, Robert Fairchild, Matthew Rushing and Yo-Yo Ma. Works by George Balanchine, Alexei Ratmansky, José Limón, Martha Graham, Larry Keigwin and Christopher Wheeldon will be performed. Vvf.org/arts/vail-international-dance-festival

Keep reading... Show less
Isabella Boylston, partnered here by Zachary Catazaro, is Vail's artist in residence this year. Photo by Erin Baiano, courtesy of Vail International Dance Festival

When Damian Woetzel came to Vail a decade ago as artistic director, he brought the vision of creating an open artistic community.

"Dancers often go to festival gigs, arrive with their music and costumes, perform, get the check and go," says Woetzel. "It's very normal and efficient. But I was always more interested in collaborations, artistic development, working with new artists, so I tried from the beginning to create an atmosphere in which to experiment and try something new."

This month, the festival celebrates Woetzel's collaborative mission and its expansion during his time there.

Keep reading... Show less

The cast of On The Town

Dance is always big at the Tonys, but especially this year, with several crossover stars from the dance world occupying major Broadway roles. New York City Ballet principal Robert Fairchild, who stars in An American in Paris, lost best lead actor to Michael Cerveris of Fun Home, but we still enjoyed seeing Fairchild's dreamy lovers’ pas de deux with Leanne Cope. Christopher Wheeldon, making his director-choreographer debut, took home the well-deserved Tony for best choreography for An American in Paris.

Leanne Cope and Robert Fairchild at the 2015 Tony Awards.

Other highlights included a medley from the always energetic On the Town cast (featuring NYCB’s Megan Fairchild and introduced by ballet’s celeb of the moment Misty Copeland), a regal performance by Chita Rivera from The Visit and the news that Tommy Tune received a lifetime achievement award. “My father’s great dream for me was the same as every Texas father’s dream for their first born son: They wanted us all to leave Texas, go to New York and dance in the chorus of a Broadway show,” he said in his acceptance speech. “I did it, and I loved every single time step.”

Wendy Whelan and Craig Hall in After the Rain

Yesssss After the Rain. There can never be enough of that heart-wrenching Christopher Wheeldon ballet. And for those of you lucky enough to be in New York City this weekend, you’ll have a chance to see it live, for free, performed by none other than the soon-to-retire Wendy Whelan, with New York City Ballet soloist Craig Hall.

The pair will present the piece September 21 at Lincoln Center’s Hearst Plaza as part of an International Day of Peace celebration. Buddhist organization Shinnyo-en will host the event, called Shinnyo Lantern Floating for Peace. The public is invited to share and celebrate peace through live music, dance and floating paper lanterns on the Paul Milstein Reflecting Pool. Students from The Juilliard School and trumpet player Alphonso Horne will also perform.

Photo by Paul Kolnik, courtesy NYCB

Yesterday, Joffrey Ballet live-streamed three hours of Swan Lake rehearsal with Christopher Wheeldon. And lucky for us, the whole session is now posted on the company’s YouTube channel.

You’d think this would be a chance to get a sneak peak of the performance—and it is—but the most interesting parts happen between the dancing moments. It’s fascinating to watch Wheeldon polish details with the performers. During the first two hour-long segments, he works with the corps, creating uniform lines and port de bras in the Act I waltz and among the swans of Act II. He offers tips like letting the arm movements originate at the center of the back to make them more wing-like.

If you have limited time, skip to the two-hour mark. You’ll see artistic director Ashley Wheater chat with Wheeldon and Jason Fowler about the staging process. Fowler had the hardest job, says Wheeldon, because he actually learned the ballet from videos and set large portions of it on the dancers himself. Wheeldon only recently arrived to clarify the movement.

In the final hour, Wheeldon rehearses the principals—Victoria Jaiani as Odette/Odile and Dylan Gutierrez as Prince Siegfried—on the moment of their first encounter. He focuses on the motivations and intentions behind the pantomime. “First you see his eyes, then you see the bow, and that’s what frightens you,” he tells Jaiani. He works with the pair on creating real characters and a believable interaction. Debriefing afterward with Wheater, he says, “It can’t just be steps, where we think, 'Oh she’s flapping her arms so she’s a swan, and he’s running around with a princely bow so he’s the prince.' They have to actually embody those characters and believe in them for us to believe them.”

I only wish there had been time to watch them work on the pas de deux. I’m sure Wheeldon has great tips on partnering.

Joffrey Ballet premieres Wheeldon’s Swan Lake on October 15.

mailbox

Get DanceTeacher in your inbox