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Irina Kolpakova in the studio with Katherine Williams. Photo by Quinn Wharton for Pointe

Being coached by a treasure like former Kirov prima Irina Kolpakova is an experience most dancers only dream of. But company members at American Ballet Theatre have been the lucky beneficiaries of her wisdom since 1990. Thanks to Instagram, where pros like Gillian Murphy and James Whiteside share snippets of their sessions with Kolpakova, any ballet lover can be a fly on the wall during rehearsals with the famed ballet mistress.

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With his elegant limbs and dramatic features, it’s only natural that David Hallberg is in high demand with the world of high fashion. The intercontinental ballet star’s latest work, a video for NOWNESS.com (owned by luxury brand conglomerate LVMH) features made-for-film choreography by fellow American Ballet Theatre principal Marcelo Gomes.

The studio performance is certainly a unique viewing experience. DT’s sister publication Pointe magazine describes the clip as Aronofsky-esque with its dramatic, tightly cropped close-ups. As Hallberg says, the experience is “intimate, because the camera is so close, whereas at the Met you have…an audience hundreds of feet away.” Sometimes you see only a hand, a bicep, or Hallberg’s expressive eyes. He also makes use of the studio’s barres and mirror, which feels jarring when dance is usually confined to a stage. It’s an interesting experiment. What do you think?

Hallberg at Work on Nowness.com

Former Metropolitan Ballet student Peter Weil (now a member of Boston Ballet’s pre-professional program) at a 2009 American Ballet Theatre Summer Intensive

In the stereotypically female-centric ballet world, strong male role models are essential when it comes to inspiring the next generation of boys. Fortunately, well-known danseurs seem increasingly eager to get involved (like David Hallberg, who recently started a scholarship and mentorship program at American Ballet Theatre’s JKO School).

At Pennsylvania’s Metropolitan Ballet Academy, young male students are lucky to have former Pennsylvania Ballet principal Alexander Iziliaev on faculty. Iziliaev leads the school’s Boys’ Scholarship Program, which offers tuition-free classes for boys in a full curriculum of ballet, modern, jazz, and character.

Designed to draw Philadelphia’s young male community to ballet, the program has trained more than 50 dancers each year since 1999. Some have gone on to pursue professional careers. Auditions for the 2013–2014 school year will be held this weekend for boys 7–18. Click here for more information.

Photo by Rosalie O'Connor, via Metropolitan Ballet Academy

American Ballet Theatre loves having Alexei Ratmansky on their team, and they want to shout it from the rooftops. Last weekend, “NYC-ARTS” on New York’s PBS station THIRTEEN showcased the company’s artist in residence as part of a preview of the spring season. In the opening sequence, Kevin McKenzie describes hiring the Russian-born choreographer (and 2011 Dance Magazine Award winner) as his single greatest accomplishment during his 20 years as artistic director. Wow.

The episode highlights Ratmansky’s work with the company, from his brand new, hugely popular version of The Nutcracker to the restaging of 19th century classics like The Firebird. Also appearing in the segment, to describe Ratmansky’s staging process, are cross-continental star David Hallberg, Julie Kent and NYCB darling Sara Mearns. Ratmansky, who describes working with ABT as a “paradise for a choreographer,” doesn’t sound like he plans to relocate any time soon, and I think everyone is pleased to hear that news.

ABT kicks off its spring season tonight with a gala at Lincoln Center.

NYC-ARTS Profile: Alexei Ratmansky, American Ballet Theatre

Watch Profile: Alexei Ratmansky, American Ballet Theatre on PBS. See more from NYC-ARTS.

David Hallberg is giving back to the dance communities that raised him. The Bolshoi Ballet and American Ballet Theatre principal has established two scholarships over the past few years at ABT's JKO School in NYC, and recently at the School of Ballet Arizona, where he trained as a young dancer.

The scholarships cover students' tuition and offer a chance to be mentored by the dance luminary himself. The goal, says Hallberg, is to help young (particularly male) students on the often difficult road to a professional dance career. "My personal journey to finding ballet was riddled with hardships," he says. "But once ballet found a place in my life as a kid, I couldn’t let go of its exhilarating pulse. To pass on the inspiration I felt when I was first discovering ballet is a completely invaluable experience.”

Photo by Matthew Karas for Dance Magazine

 

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