CULTURE

Bodies in Motion


Photographer: Kate Owen

David Hallberg made ballet history in 2011 when he left New York for Moscow to join the top ranks of the Bolshoi Ballet, becoming the first American dancer invited to join the insular Russian ballet company. Traditionally, traffic had gone the other way—and usually at great risk to the dancers involved. (With the KGB in hot pursuit, Mikhail Baryshnikov and Rudolf Nureyev had to defect in order to dance with Western companies.) As something of an ambassador for his art form, Hallberg, a star of American Ballet Theatre, has performed regularly as a guest artist with companies around the world. It’s been part of his mission to learn from the best and introduce new elements into his dancing—not to mention to export a little American know-how to distant corners of the globe. Last Friday, Hallberg presented his latest experiment in cultural cross-pollination. For Legacy, a one-night program at Lincoln Center’s Koch Theater, he brought together dancers from the various companies in which he’s danced. They included the Mariinsky Ballet (formerly the Kirov), the Bolshoi Ballet, the Australian Ballet, the Tokyo Ballet and American Ballet Theatre’s junior Studio Company. Before the curtain rose, Hallberg invited W into the wings for a glimpse of rehearsal—and for that even rarer glimpse of dancers in repose or in transitional moments between preparing and dancing. Take a look as Hallberg provides a guided tour.

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Photographer: Kate Owen

“This is ABT Studio Company dancer Erica Lall. She’s a gorgeous dancer with great energy in her face. Here she is in the wings during a pause in the action.”

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Photographer: Kate Owen

“American Ballet Theatre’s Studio Company is where I got my professional start. It’s the younger training company. I wanted to give them a world premiere, which was a big opportunity for them on a major stage. In this photo you can see classroom dancers becoming movers themselves. They are finding movement in the movement they were given.”

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Photographer: Kate Owen

“This was the Tokyo Ballet’s U.S. debut. It was a really important time for them—the first time dancing in New York and at Lincoln Center. You can see how excited they were. This is a company that really prizes group dynamics. You don’t make excuses for yourself. It’s down to business.”

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Photographer: Kate Owen

“This is Australian Ballet’s star ballerina Amber Scott rehearsing a pas de deux by Stephen Baynes about a relationship in turmoil. Her partner is Rudy Hawkes. I wanted to showcase her in this work to pay tribute to Amber’s Aussie style. She’s not all extroverted; Her movement is more internalized and refined. You can see it in the beautiful line of her legs. I’m a huge fan of hers.”

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Photographer: Kate Owen

“Here is Amber again. These are quintessential ballet fingers. They’re refined and tapered. Very feminine.“

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Photographer: Kate Owen

“Mizuka Ueno is the ballerina of the Tokyo Ballet. Here she is in BHAKTI III by Maurice Bejart. This is the moment when she finishes this big solo and lays on the ground. Then she springs up from the floor into this pose that you see and it’s so striking… with her arm low and Mizuka just facing the audience looking very strong. Because this was a rehearsal, she was partly in costume, but her hair was just put up casually like this, in her own style, not the way she wore it in performance.”

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Photographer: Kate Owen

“This is a beautiful moment in this piece for ABT Studio Company by Pontus Lidberg. You see the dancers going into a big lift and you can’t help but watch them as they move into the wings. The couple draws your eye away from the other dancers onstage. You can see their American training in their fresh youthful attack.”

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Photographer: Kate Owen

“There are always markings on the stage. There is a center and quarter mark, and sometimes more specific marks for formations and lighting cues so you can find your spot on stage. It’s funny what we take for granted. I didn’t even notice the X on the stage in this photograph.”

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Photographer: Kate Owen

“Katya (Ekaterina Kondaurova) embodies the perfect Mariinsky ballerina of this generation. She has that beautiful upper body. She looks very Russian. But she’s also extremely athletic and strong. Here she is rehearsing the Diamonds pas de deux from Balanchine’s Jewels on the stage where Balanchine first showed it. I’m almost like a nerdy fan of Katya’s. There is such focus in her face.”

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Photographer: Kate Owen

“The back that comes from the Vaganova and Mariinsky training is so unbelievable—It’s the best in the world. The Mariinsky dancers can lengthen and open their backs and create this really delicate arm gesture (porte de bras). In this picture of Katya rehearsing Diamonds, she’s in a low-cut tutu so you can really see the muscle formation and the shape of the training.”

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Photographer: Kate Owen

Mizuka Ueno in her warm up pants and red pointe shoes.