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SideBarre

Photo: Patrick Frenette.

SideBarre

It takes more than pliés to lift a ballet company to great heights. From dancers to conductors, teachers to makeup artists, this series features fascinating insight from ABT experts and an intimate look inside America’s National Ballet Company®. Take a spot at the SideBarre to get to know the incredible people behind each bourrée of American Ballet Theatre.

July 12, 2024

Behind the Ballet with Elizabeth Kaye

Like Water for Chocolate

In this final installment of  Behind the Ballet for the 2024 Summer season, ABT Principal Dancer Herman Cornejo joins Elizabeth Kaye to discuss Like Water for Chocolate and its layered three-act story. From adapting to a non-balletic character and demanding acting scenes to onstage sensuality and heartbreak, this exclusive interview offers a unique perspective on two-time Tony Award® winner Christopher Wheeldon’s full-length ballet, based on Laura Esquivel’s iconic novel of the same title.

July 5, 2024

Behind the Ballet with Elizabeth Kaye

Romeo and Juliet

In this installment of Behind the Ballet, Elizabeth Kaye revisits the creation of The Royal Ballet (1965) in the wake of World War II, which sought to bring back “what was lost after the war—the gentleness of life.” Kaye then explains how Shakespeare’s timeless tragedy is translated into movement through four heart-wrenching pas de deux and three acts of forbidden young love that reveal the universal language of ballet in Romeo and Juliet.

June 28, 2024

Behind the Ballet with Elizabeth Kaye

Swan Lake

This episode of Behind the Ballet takes on the third production of the 2024 Summer season: Swan Lake. Described by Elizabeth Kaye as the “crown jewel of classical ballet,” Kaye offers a sneak peek into this production’s premiere in 2000 featuring current Artistic Director Susan Jaffe in the role of Odette/Odile. Kaye chronicles the tragic story of Swan Lake and how Tchaikovsky’s ethereal score shapes this iconic 19th Century tale.

Posted In
Pride
June 27, 2024

ABT's 2024 Pride Night

Jacob Clerico - ABT Pride Night 2024
Jacob Clerico. Photo: Emma Zordan.

American Ballet Theatre’s 2024 Pride Night celebration took place on Wednesday June 26 at the Metropolitan Opera House, alongside a performance of Wayne McGregor’s Woolf Works, a ballet triptych inspired by Virginia Woolf’s novels Mrs. Dalloway, Orlando and The Waves. Woolf Works explores questions of sexuality and gender identity, paying homage to Woolf as a queer and literary icon.

The evening was full of festivities celebrating the LGTBTQIA+ community.

Performance

Playbills for the night featured an insert with a welcome and introduction to Pride Night, an article titled “Virginia Woolf’s Queer Imagination,” written by scholar Iseult Gillespie, and spotlights on local LGBTQIA+ organizations, including The Trevor Project, Ali Forney Center, GLAAD, Anti-Violence Project, and NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project.

The performance was preceded by a pre-curtain speech and welcome by ABT corps de ballet dancer Jacob Clerico.

Read the 2024 Pride Night Playbill Insert

"We believe, through dance, we can transcend barriers and unite in a shared expression of humanity."

- Jacob Clerico, ABT Corps de Ballet

The cast of Woolf Works - ABT's 2024 Pride Night
The cast of Woolf Works. Photo: Bethany Beacham.

At bows during the conclusion of the performance, ABT Principal Dancers Devon Teuscher and James Whiteside held up a pride flag signed by ABT’s dancers, a symbol of the Company’s support of Pride Month and the LGBTQIA+ community. The flag will be auctioned until June 30, and all proceeds will benefit ABT RISE – ABT’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiative program.

Leopold Allen Exhibit

ABT also curated an exhibit honoring Leopold Allen, ABT’s first Hair and Makeup Supervisor, who was a vital member of the Company until he passed away from AIDS in 1989. The exhibit is available to view all season next to the vitrine in the South TV Lounge and in the Richard Tucker Case in the North TV Lounge in the Metropolitan Opera House. The exhibit features personal quotes, photographs of Leopold with the Company, and personal items of Leopold donated by his family.

Read More About Leopold Allen
Connor Holloway and DJ Remeice at the 2024 ABT Silent Disco.
Connor Holloway and DJ Remeice at the ABT Silent Disco. Photo: Ming Chen.

Silent Disco

Pride Night concluded with the ABT Silent Disco  as part of Lincoln Center’s Summer for the City, a free, public performing arts series that audience members and New Yorkers alike could join following that evening’s Woolf Works performance. The Silent Disco was co-hosted by former ABT dancer Conor Holloway and DJ Remeice. Despite inclement weather, the ABT Silent Disco was still held after a brief delay and celebrated Pride Month with the city.

The writer, Paige Shea, is an ABT Press Intern for Summer 2024.

June 21, 2024

Behind the Ballet with Elizabeth Kaye

Woolf Works

This segment of Behind the Ballet delves into the contemporary masterpiece that is Wayne McGregor’s Woolf Works. Elizabeth Kaye’s informative lecture offers a rich understanding of choreographer Wayne McGregor’s history and a glimpse into the ballet’s layered content. Join ABT for an enlightening discussion that promises to leave you with much to think about and even more to anticipate on stage with this electrifying performance.

June 18, 2024

Pride Feature:
Honoring Leopold Allen

A Visionary in Hair and Makeup Artistry

As part of ABT’s Pride Month initiatives, the ABT RISE Legacy Committee is honored to feature Leopold Samuel Allen (1945-1989), the first resident Hair and Makeup Artist for American Ballet Theatre and a cornerstone of the Company from 1978 to 1988.

"Leopold was a lovely person; talented, caring, fun and with a huge heart."

- Mikhail Baryshnikov

Leopold Allen and Michael Owen. Photo: Paul B. Goode.
Leopold Allen and Michael Owen. Photo: Paul B. Goode.

Born on November 17, 1945, in New York City, Leopold was the only boy and fourth of five children born to his mother and father, Leopold and Louise Allen. From a young age, Leopold displayed extraordinary talent for drawing and painting. He inherited a love for fashion and creativity from his father, a tailor from Antigua, and his mother, a seamstress from North Carolina.  

By junior high, Leopold was designing outfits for his four sisters, Joan, Glenda, Rose, and Bertha, which led him to attend the High School of Fashion Industries in NYC. After graduating, he began his career with Diane Martin Wigs, where his talent caught the eye of pioneering Black supermodel Naomi Sims. 

"Leopold was such a light at ABT. He made the process of putting makeup on so much fun. He had the funniest sense of humor and was always making us laugh. He just made everything delightful. Every night his makeup was a work of art. I always felt safe in Leopold’s Artistic hands. After he passed away and I began doing my own makeup I followed his every detail so in a way he lived on through me."

- Susan Jaffe

"Leopold’s make up room was always a haven for me during some difficult times. There was music, laughter, and genuine caring there. He was a very special person….talented, professional, intelligent, and sympathetic to all. I loved going to visit his “oasis” even when I didn’t need any makeup or hair assistance."

- Cynthia Gregory

"As one of the dancers who got to spend time in the chair in Leopold's room, I can say that it was a refuge. He always had music playing and it felt light and happy."

- Lisa Rinehart

Leopold Allen and Alessandra Ferri. Photo: Paul B. Goode.
Leopold Allen and Alessandra Ferri. Photo: Paul B. Goode.

Leopold’s innovative work with wigs and makeup earned him positions at the Metropolitan Opera House and later American Ballet Theatre. At ABT, under the direction of Mikhail Baryshnikov, he traveled extensively with the Company, including on the Baryshnikov & Co. tours. Leopold expertly honed his craft in beauty and character makeup, hairstyling, wigs, and prosthetics, blending artistry and technical skill to create stunning looks that captivated both audiences and performers. 

His career was distinguished by bringing to life many incredible productions and notable characters, including Carabosse in MacMillan’s The Sleeping Beauty and the Bronze Idol in La Bayadere. His work has been featured in books such as Ten Dancers and Private View: Inside Baryshnikov’s American Ballet Theatre. 

"Leopold was among the first people I met when I joined the company in August 1985. I arrived from London directly for a performance of Act 2 Bayadere at Wolftrap. He made me feel welcomed immediately with his joy and his smile. I was very nervous about my debut, but he made me laugh, teasing me about my British/Italian accent. We all loved him; he was one of us. "

- Alessandra Ferri

"Characters like Carabosse were very involved and took a lot of time, so I spent a lot of time in his chair. I always knew going into his room that he was going to be prepared. When I premiered a role, I was nervous, but he understood and knew exactly what to do. It was like he was taking care of his own family. He transformed us. He was a special and gifted artist, and when he passed stage makeup lost a star."

- Michael Owen

"He had the best smile, which made us feel confident and happy before the most terrifying of ballets. I don’t think I ever felt as glamorous as when he did my hair and makeup. He was an original and I am so fortunate that he passed through my life in ABT."

- Cynthia Harvey

Cheryl Yeager and Leopold Allen. Photo: Paul B. Goode.
Cheryl Yeager and Leopold Allen. Photo: Paul B. Goode.

American Ballet Theatre fondly remembers Leopold as a radiant light, always filled with joy, comfort, and positivity. He constantly lifted spirits with music and singing, filling rooms with laughter and making everyone in his chair feel ready to take the stage. 

A proud gay Black man, Leopold was gender nonconforming and undeniably himself from a young age. His life was tragically cut short by AIDS on October 27, 1989, but his legacy lives on in the dance, fashion, and performance worlds he helped shape, and in the lives of those he impacted. 

"The joy and comfort in Leopold’s makeup room was infectious. Even though I did my own makeup... I always went to Leopold for final touches. It was a ritual. It wasn’t about the powder or what he was doing but how he made me feel. I felt cared for... He was a magician."

- Cheryl Yeager

"My first few years at ABT, I spent most of my free hours at the theatre hanging out with Leopold. listening to his music and watching him work. He always made me feel welcome...his wonderful sense of humor and warm personality made his makeup room feel like home. When I had my first solo roles to perform (like in "Sleeping Beauty" and Clark Tippet's "Rigaudon"), he would "touch up" my makeup which always made me feel special and glamorous."

- Julie Kent

"He was a consummate professional and a wonderful artist. Most importantly, a caring and kind individual who loved his work. We loved sharing the creative process with him."

- Victor Barbee

Leopold Allen. Photo courtesy of Sharon Kyle.
Leopold Allen. Photo courtesy of Sharon Kyle.

At the start of the month, ABT dancers, staff, and faculty gathered with members of Leopold’s family to kick off Pride Month and honor this legacy by unveiling a photo of Leopold on the wall of ABT’s 890 Broadway studios where he can be remembered for years to come.

For more on Leopold’s personal impact on his family, please read the following LA Progressive article:

LA Progressive

"He loved to make people beautiful, but he also loved to make people believe they were beautiful."

- Sharon Kyle, Leopold's Niece

Photo: Emma Zordan.
Photo: Emma Zordan.

During ABT’s 2024 Summer season, please take a moment to visit our exhibit to honor Leopold Allen’s legacy at the vitrine in the South TV Lounge, near List Hall in the Metropolitan Opera House.

 

Celebrate Pride with ABT
June 14, 2024

Behind the Ballet with Elizabeth Kaye

Onegin

The first installment of Behind the Ballet for the 2024 Summer season unearths the emotionally charged classic ballet Onegin. ABT Dance Historian and New York Times #1 best-selling author Elizabeth Kaye gives us an in-depth glance of the plot structure in this ballet adaptation of the original verse-novel by Alexander Pushkin, and explains exactly why this ballet remains an audience and dancer favorite. 

Posted In
History
June 12, 2024

Tutus and Their Glory

The Evolution of Costuming in Ballet

From tying satin ribbons to wearing dazzling sequined tutus, what a dancer wears on stage captivates the audience’s attention as much as their flawless pirouette or stunning penché. As the world of ballet enters a contemporary era of storytelling, costuming is living beyond the tulle tutus of Swan Lake to a statement of inclusivity with Wayne McGregor’s Woolf Works.

The Wilis from <em>Giselle</em>. Photo: Amos Adams/Charleston Gaillard Center.
The Wilis from Giselle. Photo: Amos Adams/Charleston Gaillard Center.

Before the creation of modern tutus and pointe shoes in the seventeenth century, male dancers wore tonnelets or fabric wired skirts, while female dancers wore costumes that resembled court dresses. No matter the gender, both males and females danced in heeled shoes. By the eighteenth century, costuming began to shift with everyday fashion trends. Male dancers wore vests and breeches while female dancers began to shorten their court style dresses for more flexibility to dance.

In 1832, there was a substantial change in costuming with Marie Taglioni debuting the Romantic tutu and the first version of pointe shoes at the Paris Opera. In the ballet La Sylphide, Taglioni’s multilayer below the knee-above the midcalf tutu caught the attention of other dancers who wanted to dress in the same style on stage, thus creating a future for costuming in ballet. Today, versions of the Romantic tutu are worn by current ABT corps de ballet members in Giselle.

Scene from <em>Swan Lake</em>. Photo: Rosalie O’Connor.
Scene from Swan Lake. Photo: Rosalie O’Connor.

During the1880s, the Romantic tutu was shortened as footwork became more intricate. From the cut of the Romantic tutu, the Classic tutu that is seen in Swan Lake was created. There are four versions of the Classic tutu that vary in different framing, netting, hoops, and pleats, with all tutus protruding from the hip and shorter in length. The pancake tutu is short, has a wired hoop, pleated, and has layers of tulle. The platter tutu is like the pancake tutu but has a flat top layer that is decorated instead of pleats. On the other hand, the bell tutu has layers of netting and does not have a wired hoop allowing for the tutu to fall into a bell shape. Finally, the powder-puff tutu does not have a wired hoop and has layers of netting allowing it to be more free forming. These tutus are seen in majority of classical ballets worn by female dancers.

Both the Romantic and Classic tutus have become a universal symbol to represent ballerinas. Along with their stunning designs and the ability to display complex footwork, their original intent was for female dancers to look weightless to connect with the femineity of the characters they portrayed on stage. When male dancers switched from tonnelets to vest and breeches in the hopes of matching fashion trends, they were trying to distance themselves from the connotation between long skirts and womanhood. Once this distinction was made, using gender fluid costuming became a storytelling element, as it is used in Woolf Works to focus on versality of character.

Jake Roxander in Wayne McGregor’s <em>Woolf Works</em>. Photo: Emma Zordan.
Jake Roxander in Wayne McGregor’s Woolf Works. Photo: Emma Zordan.

Inspired by the life and work of Virigina Woolf, Wayne McGregor’s full-length ballet, Woolf Works, does not limit costuming by gender when paying homage to the novel Orlando. Written in honor of the romance of Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West, Orlando is the story of discovering one’s identity across centuries and gender.

From Orlando, McGregor created “Becomings,” during which costume designer Moritz Junge uses costuming inspired by the seventeenth century to remind the audience of internal identity being genderless. One example of this being: in the act, both male and female cast members are draped in a solid gold dress that has similar properties as the classic tutu by protruding from the hip but with a skirt that extends to the floor level further than a romantic tutu. To allow for movement the costume’s seam is backed with elastic fabric.

Additionally, as “Becomings” is performed, the cast is seen in gender androgynous costuming that includes calf level leggings and miniature tutus in solid gold fabric. The fabric of the tutu is folded on top of itself, creating its own structural support. Both types of costumes include Elizabethan style collar that are tributed to the seventeenth century. Additionally, some of the female characters in the scene wear black, platter tutus that have an addition of black sheer like fabric that is in between the length of the gold dress and a Romantic tutu.

The costume’s color gold is used as a reflective element for dancers to stand out on stage against the dark background. Ninety percent of the fabric is metal and is from a fabric manufacture based in Switzerland. This fabric stylistically complements the use of lasers throughout the ballet. These lasers are used during Woolf Works to show a change in time.

Chloe Misseldine and Patrick Frenette in Wayne McGregor’s <em>Woolf Works</em>. Photo: Marty Sohl. .
Chloe Misseldine and Patrick Frenette in Wayne McGregor’s Woolf Works. Photo: Marty Sohl. .

Woolf Works’s innovative costuming makes a statement on character and casting in the ballet industry. The beautiful collaboration between choreographer Wayne McGregor, costume designer Mortiz Junge, and lighting designer Lucy Carter shows how the future of ballet can explore gender identity.

The evolution of court dresses to Romantic tutus to Classic tutus for female dancers and from tonnelets to vest and breeches for male dancers is disregarded as “Becomings” in Wayne McGregor’s Woolf Works highlights the styles of the seventeenth century while using Virigina Woolf’s influence of gender androgyny.

 

The writer, Camron Wright, was the ABT Press Intern for Spring 2024.

Posted In
Get to know...
March 22, 2024

Anabel Katsnelson
2024 Jennifer Alexander Dancer

When the curtain closes, dancers are no longer recognized by the character they play but by the kind of person they are off stage. In the rehearsal rooms they are leaders who strive to uplift and support their fellow dancers. Outside the studio, they are individuals who want to make the world a better place by being role models for future dancers.  

Every year, American Ballet Theatre recognizes a senior female corps de ballet member in memory of former dancer Jennifer Alexander, who embodied what it meant to be a leader on and off stage. Anabel Katsnelson continues Alexander’s legacy by being named this year’s Jennifer Alexander Dancer for her dedication and perseverance to her art form, the Company, and her community.  

The Jennifer Alexander Dancer embodies the professionalism, perseverance, and generosity that Jennifer Alexander showed as a corps of ballet member until a devastating car accident claimed her life in December 2007. The Memorial Fund was established in 2008 to honor Alexander’s memory and dedication to the Company.  

Anabel Katsnelson in <em>Swan Lake</em>. Photo: Rosalie O’Connor.
Anabel Katsnelson in Swan Lake. Photo: Rosalie O’Connor.

Similar to many women who have held the title of Jennifer Alexander Dancer, Katsnelson knew she was destined to be on stage at a young age. As her passion for ballet grew, Anabel began to follow the career of a number of professional ballet dancers, including former American Ballet Theatre Principal Dancer Alessandra Ferri. 

Anabel describes her admiration for Alessandra, saying, “I love how effortless she is onstage, and how she can carry a story so beautifully through her body language and movement quality.” Being able to look up to Alessandra guided Anabel to the Company. After attending the American Ballet Summer Intensive, Anabel joined ABT Studio Company in 2016 and became a corps of ballet member in the summer of 2017. 

Being a dancer at ABT is like being a part of a family. All the dancers support each other, and within the corps there is this sense of unity and camaraderie that is unlike any other company I’ve seen.”

Anabel Katsnelson in <em>In the Upper Room</em>. Photo: Rosalie O’Connor.
Anabel Katsnelson in In the Upper Room. Photo: Rosalie O’Connor.

As a member of the corps de ballet, Anabel recalls her favorite moment as performing Twyla Tharp’s “Bomb Squad” from In the Upper Room. Anabel speaks fondly on the performance by saying, “Something about the Phillip Glass music, the smoke onstage, and the bombastic movement made the experience of performing so exhilarating. We were so well rehearsed that it truly felt like an out-of-body experience… I could totally ‘let go’ onstage!”  

Anabel continues her leadership off stage as she offers advice to the next generation of aspiring dancers. She wants to remind dancers of the importance of having role models but trusting their own journey. Anabel states,  

“It sounds cliché but my advice would be to stop comparing yourself to other dancers. Everyone is on their own path! I like to think that when I’m watching someone dance it should be informative or inspiring, but never negative or self-deprecating. While it’s something I am still working on, I’ve learned that negative self-talk only stifles the growing process.”

Anabel Katsnelson’s leadership on and off stage and her dedication to being a role model is a wonderful reminder of Jennifer Alexander’s spirit and love that she had for American Ballet Theatre. She carries this title with the respect and grace that it deserves.    

The writer, Camron Wright, is the Press Intern for Spring 2024.

December 8, 2023

In The Nutcracker, ABT Studio Company Dancers take the stage!

ABT Studio Company and apprentice dancers backstage <rm>The Nutcracker</em> in 2022. Photo: João Menegussi.
ABT Studio Company and apprentice dancers backstage The Nutcracker in 2022. Photo: João Menegussi.

For many dancers, their first memories of ballet are sugarplum fairies and dancing mice. The Nutcracker has a unique tradition of incorporating students and pre-professional dancers into the production, allowing budding ballet dancers to take the stage among starring Principals.  

This holiday season, several dancers from ABT Studio Company will be joining the main Company at Segerstrom Center of the Arts in Costa Mesa, California, for ABT’s The Nutcracker. Read below to learn more about ABT Studio Company dancers Lilia Greyeyes, Brady Farrar, Vince Pelegrin, and Max Barker and their unique perspective on this Nutcracker season.  

Max Barker

Tell us a bit about your background, where you are from, and your history with dance. 

I began my ballet journey at the ABT JKO School at age 4, continuing until 2020. After a year at The Royal Ballet School, joining ABT Studio Company has been a full circle experience for me.

How did you view The Nutcracker when you were younger? Do you have any childhood memories surrounding the tradition? 

I first watched ABT’s The Nutcracker when I was eight years old, and I can vividly remember the magic that was created with its enchanting story, mesmerizing costumes, sets, music, and incredible dancing. I have wanted to be a part of ABT’s The Nutcracker ever since.

Have you performed in The Nutcracker before? If so, how do this year’s performances with the main company feel different? 

In 2021, I was a part of The Nutcracker with Eglevsky Ballet, thanks to the ABT JKO School providing me with the opportunity. Now joining ABT’s main Company rehearsals, I am enthusiastic and curious to learn as much as I can. I am filled with anticipation to partake in these upcoming performances. 

What will be your must-haves when you travel to Costa Mesa, California? 

Given that I will be performing as a mouse in the production, some must-haves travel items for this mouse to be in top notch shape include protein-packed cheese bites, claw warmers, and an epic battle playlist to get me pumped for the fight ahead. 

What makes you excited about performing in The Nutcracker?   

I am excited to perform in ABTs nutcracker this year because it has been a dream of mine ever since I saw it for the first time. This is my first professional experience with ABT and I could not be more grateful. 

Vince Pelegrin and Brady Farrar backstage at The Nutcracker in 2022. Photo: João Menegussi.  .
Vince Pelegrin and Brady Farrar backstage at The Nutcracker in 2022. Photo: João Menegussi. .

Brady Farrar

Tell us a bit about your background, where you are from, and your history with dance. 

My name is Brady Farrar, and I have been dancing for 13 years. When I was 8 years old, I was gratefully given the opportunity to move away from home for training. I lived in Miami for 8 years, and it was during this time I was introduced to ballet. When I was 16 years old, I moved again to New York City to attend the ABT JKO School. In fall of 2022, I joined ABT Studio Company. 

How did you view The Nutcracker when you were younger? Do you have any childhood memories surrounding the tradition? 

There is no Christmas without The Nutcracker. From the music of Tchaikovsky, to the magical story, this ballet is unlike any other. The Nutcracker holds its own place in the ballet repertoire. Every time I am able to perform it, I get taken back to childhood memories such as leaving the theatre after a show and reminiscing on what just happened, or walking around the mall and hearing the main pas de deux music playing. Nutcracker is iconic, and is a big part of the holidays.  

Have you performed in The Nutcracker before? If so, how do this year’s performances with the main Company feel different? 

In my first The Nutcracker, I remember dancing the role of Fritz. It was very fun to be able to act and play a character that reminded me of myself. In ABT’s version, choreographed by Alexei Ratmansky, I am lucky to be able to perform with the corps de ballet as a mouse. Taking on a role of something that is non-human is something I have never done before, so it is such a rewarding journey for me. 

What are you doing to prepare for The Nutcracker season? Are you approaching this differently than you would with other performances? 

Dancing with the corps de ballet is a very different process than dancing with ABT Studio Company. It is important to work as a team, rather than approaching the work as an individual. I am so honored to be able to participate in such an amazing production. 

What will be your must-haves when you travel to Costa Mesa, California? 

I will need my pink mice shoes and a healthy mind and body. And, of course, some Philz coffee. 

What makes you excited about performing in The Nutcracker

I am excited to travel to California, perform with the main Company, and listen to Tchaikovsky every night.  

Lilia Greyeyes and fellow ABT Studio Company dancer Audrey Lynn backstage at The Nutcracker in 2022. Photo courtesy of Lilia Greyeyes.  .
Lilia Greyeyes and fellow ABT Studio Company dancer Audrey Lynn backstage at The Nutcracker in 2022. Photo courtesy of Lilia Greyeyes. .

Lilia Greyeyes

Tell us a bit about your background, where you are from, and your history with dance. 

I grew up in Ontario, Canada, just outside of Toronto. I started ballet when I was 2 years old, so it’s been a part of my life for as long as I can remember! I trained at Canada’s National Ballet School for 6 years before attending ABT’s Summer Intensive and joining the ABT Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School in fall 2022. I joined ABT Studio Company in January 2023. 

How did you view The Nutcracker when you were younger? Do you have any childhood memories surrounding the tradition? 

The Nutcracker is so magical! It was the first full length ballet I ever saw, and the costumes, sets, story, and music are a little kid’s dream. When I was 13, I got to be Marie in the National Ballet of Canada’s Nutcracker. It was such a special experience to be in a professional production at that age, and I had the best time performing! 

 Have you performed in The Nutcracker before? If so, how do this year’s performances with the main Company feel different? 

I performed in ABT’s production of The Nutcracker last year when I was still in the ABT JKO School. It was such an amazing opportunity, and everything was very new. This year I’m revisiting the same roles and spots so I feel like I can really focus on the quality of movements and how I can push myself within the choreography. I also feel like I’ve grown so much as an artist in the past year while touring and performing with ABT Studio Company, so I’m excited to see how that translates onstage. 

What are you doing to prepare for The Nutcracker season? Are you approaching this differently than you would with other performances? 

I’m making sure to take care of my body leading up to the performances, like getting enough sleep, and massage, ice baths, etc. when needed. I’m part of the corps de ballet dancing in Snow and Flowers. Since there are so many dancers onstage in those sections, every individual needs to pull their weight and be super aware of their spacing and timing to make the choreography and formations come to life. Corps work can be challenging but it’s so fun and rewarding. 

 What will be your must-haves when you travel to Costa Mesa, California? 

A pair of sunglasses, 2nd Skin Squares, and a good book! 

What makes you excited about performing in The Nutcracker?   

I love getting to perform alongside my friends and dancing with the main Company is such a privilege. The costumes and sets are so beautiful and it’s such a fun production to be a part of. Also knowing so many kids are watching, some experiencing ballet for the first time, is the most exciting feeling! 

Vince Pelegrin and friends in costume as Mice backstage at The Nutcracker in 2022. Photo courtesy of Vince Pelegrin.
Vince Pelegrin and friends in costume as Mice backstage at The Nutcracker in 2022. Photo courtesy of Vince Pelegrin.

Vince Pelegrin

Tell us a bit about your background, where you are from, and your history with dance. 

Hi! I’m Vince. I’m from the Philippines. I started dancing when I was 8 at Steps Dance Studio in Manila under the direction of Sofia Elizalde. My two older brothers got me into dance because I would watch them outside the studio and try their moves. 

How did you view The Nutcracker when you were younger? Do you have any childhood memories surrounding the tradition? 

I viewed The Nutcracker when I was younger to be one of the most festive ballets ever. With the Christmas holiday spirit in the Philippines being extremely grand and joyous, plus the ballet itself, I would always find myself watching the grownups dance, and I would be so amazed and inspired by them.  

Have you performed in The Nutcracker before? If so, how do this year’s performances with the main company feel different? 

Yes, I have performed the roles of the Nutcracker Prince, Russian, and the Doll. This year’s performances with the ABT main Company feel different because I know that we will have the most fun onstage performing Mice in Act 1, seeing my friends in ABT Studio Company in Snow and Flowers, and cheering for them.

What are you doing to prepare for The Nutcracker season? Are you approaching this differently than you would with other performances? 

I have been going to the gym since we have long breaks during rehearsal days at 890 Broadway and taking variations class with Sascha Radetsky and Herman Cornejo. I like all my shows being different from each other so it’s always fresh and exciting.  

What will be your must-haves when you travel to Costa Mesa, California? 

My pink shoes for Mice are my must-haves when I travel to Costa Mesa. And, of course, my sunscreen and ballet class ‘fits.  

What makes you excited about performing in The Nutcracker?   

Watching the main Company dance from the wings or the audience and learning so much from them and the whole experience make me excited about performing in The Nutcracker.