Just for fun
Yes, the "workshop" ballet was just as life-changing as I'd been told it would be.

I have a confession. Until today, I had never seen the seminal classic Center Stage.

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Kate Lydon (left) working with members of ABT Studio Company. Photo by Rosalie O'Connor, courtesy of ABT

Kate Lydon has been appointed artistic director of American Ballet Theatre's summer intensive programs, adding to her responsibilities as artistic director of the ABT Studio Company and apprentice program coordinator. The former editor-in-chief of Dance Spirit steps into the position in time to lead the 2017 programs. Lydon, who was a company member of ABT from 1995 to 1998, will oversee nearly 1,400 students attending programs in six locations nationwide. She replaces Julie Kent, who left to direct The Washington Ballet.

Esmiana Jani and Tamas Krizsa in The Washington Ballet's Juanita y Alicia. Photo by Dean Alexander, courtesy of The Washington Ballet

After just a few months on the job as artistic director for The Washington Ballet, Julie Kent has revamped the company's enrichment programs and its school.

Dance legends will join Kent three times during the season in the series “ICONS: of dance—Sundays at The Joe." American Ballet Theatre artistic director Kevin McKenzie is the first to appear, September 18, to discuss his time training with Mary Day, founder of The Washington School of Ballet (TWSB). A member of the artistic staff will lead another five-part series “Beyond the Stage—Sundays at The Joe," which covers information and history about upcoming main stage works. The first takes place September 25, to discuss the company's 40th anniversary program. And beginning in October, Kent will lead four “Dialogue with Dancers—Sundays at The Joe" discussions where two company members talk about their backgrounds, motivations and approaches to their roles. “You have to support the programming with opportunities for people to learn why the master works are important," she says.

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Kent in The Leaves Are Fading

The ballet times, they are a-changing. Over the weekend, Julie Kent gave her final performance with American Ballet Theatre. Handpicked as a 16-year-old by Baryshnikov himself, she entranced audiences for three decades with her serene beauty. Now, the willowy prima is stepping down.

She offered some interesting insight in The New York Times about the challenge of deciding when to leave: “So many of my colleagues were like, ‘Oh, you’ll know,’” she said. But, she explains, the longer she danced—20 years, 25 years—the harder it became to think of saying good-bye. She said she eventually spoke to artistic director Kevin McKenzie and told him, candidly, “This is giving me a lot of anxiety. I’m just going to have to trust that you’re going to help me with this.”

On Saturday, she performed in Romeo and Juliet for the last time, and fans and fellow dancers poured out their support via social media. Kent has some upcoming performances scheduled, she says, but she also hints that she’d like to spend more time with her children. And who can blame her for that?

Sometimes, it seems like everyone I looked up to as a young dancer is on their way out. I have to remind myself that on their heels is a talented and increasingly diverse generation of unique performers, ready for their turn in the spotlight. And besides, dancers like Julie Kent will never truly be gone.

Photo by Rosalie O'Connor, courtesy of ABT

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.

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