2017 has started off with some fantastic news: David Hallberg is coming back to dance in the U.S.
American Ballet Theatre announced yesterday that he’ll be dancing with the company during its spring season at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York. Hallberg, 34, hasn’t performed with ABT since June 2014—and fans (including us) have been missing his princely presence ever since.
For two and a half years, an injured deltoid ligament in his ankle has kept him off stage both at ABT and the Bolshoi Ballet (where he holds the distinction of being the company’s first American principal). It’s been a major setback for such a talented dancer right at the peak of his career.
But Hallberg has literally gone to the ends of the earth to recover: He’s spent the past year in Melbourne, following an intense physical therapy program designed by the Australian Ballet’s dance medicine specialist Sue Mayes and her team (who are considered some of the best in the world at what they do). According to the Sydney Morning Herald, his regimen included two hours of strength training in the morning, followed by two hours of ballet, then resting with his feet in an ice bucket before two more hours of strength work. “One of the most off-the-wall things I’ve been doing is running up flights of stairs with a metronome in my pocket to make every step the exact same speed,” he told the SMH reporter.
Although he added that he still has pain, and doesn’t know if it will ever go away, he feels ready to dance again. Last month, he made a quiet comeback dancing Franz in Coppélia at the Australian Ballet.
So what will he perform with ABT? That hasn’t been announced yet. He just started back in company class in New York yesterday. But a quick look at the casting lineup shows “TBA”s for the male lead in performances of Alexei Ratmansky’s new Whipped Cream, plus Giselle and Onegin. Hallberg told Rosyln Sulcas of The New York Times that he was particularly excited to work with Ratmansky again, so Whipped Cream is probably a safe bet. We’re keeping our fingers crossed he’s healthy enough to perform much more than that this season—and for many more seasons to come.