A New Juliet Blooms as a Ballerina

A New Juliet Blooms as a Ballerina

“That ballet actually did change my life after I was younger,” Ms. Woodward, the one new Juliet this season, mentioned. “To be doing it’s a fairly insane feeling.”

This has been a standout season for Ms. Woodward, who has made alluring debuts in George Balanchine’s “Apollo,” as Calliope; and because the shivering, fetching lead within the “Winter” part of Jerome Robbins’s “The 4 Seasons.” However “Romeo + Juliet” — as a result of it’s a full-length ballet and requires such emotional layers — is one other matter fully.

Ms. Woodward possesses the requisite emotional breadth and extra. Educated by Yuri Grigoriev, who danced with the Stanislavsky Ballet in Moscow, she has the precision of classical ballet and the velocity and assault of George Balanchine’s neoclassical custom. Her footwork and turns aren’t simply correctly positioned, they sparkle with fluid musicality. It’s beautiful to observe as a result of it’s so pure.

“I used to be all the time a little bit of a kamikaze as a ballerina as a child,” she mentioned, including that she nonetheless tries to channel that, “but when I’m too excited it could possibly overpower my precise present. That’s undoubtedly one thing for me to work on. I simply get so glad after I dance that it explodes.”

Mr. Martins, who retired underneath stress final month as ballet grasp in chief of Metropolis Ballet after allegations of sexual harassment and abuse, selected Ms. Woodward as Juliet earlier than he left. Kathleen Tracey, a former firm member turned ballet grasp, has coached Ms. Woodward in a number of roles together with this one. She mentioned she has come to understand how proper Mr. Martins was to select Ms. Woodward.

“Indiana has depth,” Ms. Tracey mentioned. “Whereas on the floor she is a really bubbly, beautiful, charming type of particular person, she is beginning to have the ability to discover her means by way of the more durable scenes, that are when she refuses Paris and when she really must be confronted with ‘Do I drink this potion, do I not?’ ”

Ms. Tracey says it is a ballet for a dancer to evolve in, asking a profound query of its lead: How a lot do you do for love? “It’s about discovering these actual human emotions and exhibiting the ache she would really feel or the despair,” she mentioned. “We’re getting there.”

It’s a matter of braiding dancing with nuanced performing, during which a fast look or hesitation could make the story come alive. As a coach, Ms. Tracey is modest and deceptively informal. When, at one level throughout a latest rehearsal, Ms. Woodward was fighting spacing, Ms. Tracey instructed her: “Middle schmenter. Be the place you might be.”

The 2 have a lighthearted backwards and forwards, which was evident as Ms. Tracey, who is called Katey, centered on serving to Ms. Woodward give her reactions extra texture. In an early scene during which Juliet’s dad and mom inform her that marriage to Paris is on the horizon, Ms. Tracey wished Ms. Woodward to point out how Juliet was half lady, half girl. “Don’t be afraid to make use of your face,” she mentioned. “I like the second once you cross over and pause, like, no, I’m only a child.” She smiled encouragingly. “I’m simply planting seeds.”

Ms. Tracey mimicked pouring from a pitcher and added, “Water.”

Throwing her arms within the air, Ms. Woodward mentioned, “Blooming. Hopefully.”


Ms. Woodward and Mr. Stanley rehearsing on the David H. Koch Theater.

Credit score
Valerie Chiang for The New York Instances

The subsequent day, Ms. Woodward talked about feelings of the function. “There’s the sense of being trapped in your individual pores and skin and inside your loved ones,” she mentioned. “There’s no escape. So in principle the potion and waking up and working away is one of the best factor that might ever occur. Nevertheless it’s additionally scary. What in the event you die?”

Ms. Woodward has a specific combine of fine cheer and glamour that comes partly from her upbringing. She was born in Paris, the place she lived till she was three half of together with her French filmmaker father and her mom, a dancer from South Africa who carried out with the choreographer Roland Petit amongst others.

Her dad and mom, who met on a dance-film set, relocated to Philadelphia, the place Ms. Woodward’s brother was born. However once they cut up up — Ms. Woodward was 7 — her father returned to Paris. Till she was 15, she lived in Los Angeles together with her mom and brother.

“We had been in Europe with my dad for each trip or vacation, and in America, we had been all the time with my mother,” she mentioned. “Typically it was arduous, since you’re simply rising up. You don’t need to go away.”

However she’s grateful now. “I really feel like I’ve two cultures ingrained in me — and South African tradition too,” she mentioned. “I’m very open to all the things.”

Ms. Woodward, who lives within the West Village together with her rescue canine, Luna, might have been partly raised in America, however she’s not precisely an American lady. Her gracious manners have a European ease, and her spirit and frequent smile call to mind the French ballerina Violette Verdy, who danced with Metropolis Ballet from 1958 to 1977. All of that exhibits up in her performances.

And if the ballet world can appear small and closed in — the work it takes to thrive in it requires whole focus — Ms. Woodward dances like she is aware of that the actual world is a giant place. Her time on the Bolshoi Ballet Academy helped her understand that. “It’s about having the ability to adapt wherever you might be,” she mentioned.

It was whereas she was on her option to Moscow that she determined to cease in New York and audition for the Metropolis Ballet-affiliated College of American Ballet, which she had realized about by way of a good friend. She was accepted on scholarship. “I’m so grateful,” she mentioned. “In any other case I don’t suppose I might have found this type.”

She joined Metropolis Ballet in 2012 and was promoted to soloist a 12 months in the past. It’s been a transition. Soloists carry out much less typically than members of the corps de ballet. “Not being within the corps each night time makes you a bit tentative once you do go onstage,” she mentioned. “You have got so many feelings. Katey helped me discover a option to channel them in a extra calm means.”

And that’s seeping into her Juliet too. “Katey does say, ‘You’ll be able to simply be free — when the time comes so that you can dance the entire ballet, you are able to do what you need to do,’” Ms. Woodward mentioned. “That’s loopy. Having the entire stage to do the interpretation of my dream function?”

She was uncharacteristically speechless. “Whoa.”

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