5 Inspiring Women in Ballet

In Ballet right now there are many women fighting their rightful way into leading positions in the ballet world. It isn’t enough now for these women to retire and become teachers. They are pushing forward for jobs like Artistic Director, Creative Director, Executive Director, Resident Choreographer and more. As ballet is slowly progressing, women in ballet are taking things into their own hands. Here are just five women who are extremely different, extremely talented and have something to say in the world of ballet.
five inspiring women in ballet

>> Tamara Rojo, Two Jobs One Passion

The Spanish sensation, Tamara Rojo has had a stellar career and still at the age of 42 is wowing audiences as lead principal at English National Ballet. But it doesn’t just end there, she is also the Artistic Director of English National Ballet and has now nurtured ENB to be one of the best companies in the world with a repertory to die for. She is also making way for more female choreographers and repetiteurs with Anna-Marie Holmes re-staging of Le Corsaire.

>> Larissa Saveliev, founder of the YAGP

Russian-born Larissa Saveliev established the YAGP in 200, and since then has awarded over 3 Million dollars in scholarships. The YAGP reaches over 7,000 dancers a year and helps mold their technique and career paths through their master classes. She has also established the bi-annual Job Fair, the Emerging Choreographer Series, and Legends in Dance Galas.

>> Ashley Ellis, RubiaWear 

Boston Ballet Principal, Ashley Ellis took a hobby of knitting and turned it into a mega brand, all while dancing. Her leg warmers and warm ups are everywhere, all while balancing dancing full time. One for the female entrepreneurs. You can catch Ms. Ellis in Boston Ballet’s production of the Sleeping Beauty opening this weekend.

>> Michaela DePrince, Author & Role model 

First Position superstar, Michaela DePrince not only became a role model for young girls everywhere but now has authored multiple books and one that was just optioned by MGM for a movie. The Dutch National Ballet Soloist is carving her way into the world of ballet, and carving hard so that others that will follow won’t have to.

>> Hee Seo, Hee Seo Foundation, YAGP KOREA

She isn’t just the first Korean principal at American Ballet Theatre, she is also changing the landscape of ballet in Korea. Hee Seo started her foundation last year in hopes to start connecting Korean dancers to more opportunities, and it is working. Additionally, her foundation is helping boys in ballet compete at the international level, in hopes of avoiding/being excused to their mandatory two years to the Korean army.

Reflecting on things…

First off, I want to thank everyone who supported my trip to the YAGP. It really was a humbling experience, and for that, I am forever thankful. After the YAGP, I was heading back to Arizona, when I realized it was the day before Easter. So, thanks to a very nice lady at SouthWest Airlines, I was able to fly back to California for super cheap and spend time with my family. While spending time in California, I was lucky enough to have job offers come in from NYC… It has been overwhelming and extremely humbling and for that I am thankful.

Over Easter, I sprained my wrist and pulled something in it… doing what you may ask? Sleeping. So, this is why I have been so slow on getting the doodles back to everyone. But alas, I am moving on them! I finally am home and will be printing all the prints tomorrow and shipping them Thursday.

While in California, I took adult ballet class at an old school I used to train at… and I died. My poor psoas is so out of shape lol. But, the plus side was it was a more Balanchine class, so the combinations come to me easier, stylistically and musically I probably just look better in this class… even though I probably still was a fat panda jumping around. I had to order new Rubia Wear leg warmers because I realized, I don’t take them off ever, and I wear them over my heel so they get tore up. -___- My fault.

Finally, this past week has been a very emotional week on the West Coast for ballet. San Francisco Ballet said goodbye to three stunning household names: All-American Vanessa Zahorian, the tall and handsome Davit Karapetyan, and the Latina who stole the ballet world’s heart Lorena Feijóo. (Find more on Odette’s Ordeal’s Facebook) All this and  SFB premiered Myles Thatcher’s Ghost. Busy week for them.

Meanwhile, on the East Coast… NYCB launched their Here/Now Festival and has been getting rave reviews. Boston Ballet this week has been gearing up for the Sleeping Beauty, and Miami City Ballet ended their season.

American National Ballet, a company celebrating diversity in ballet, announced their first principal to sign: the tall, leggy, and talented Sara Michelle Murawski. This former Slovak National dancer and current PA Ballet Principal made headlines this year after Nutcracker season she was told she wasn’t going to be rehired for next season because of her height. This then exploded and resulted in the lack of casting for the remainder of the season. ANB has yeat to announce any other hires with the exception of the Artistic Director, Cuban, Octavio Martin and powerhouse executive director Ashley Benefield. The company will be based out of Charleston, South Carolina. (learn more)

Lastly, I came home to find Doodle Book 3 on my doorstep. 🙂 IMG_3123.JPG

Currently Listening To: Solitudes by Enzio Bosso >> Click here to buy


NOMINEES OF BENOIS DE LA DANSE-2017 // If you aren’t familiar with the Benois de la Danse, they awards for dancers and choreographer who have made a significant cultural contribution over the past season. The money from the gala and fundraisers goes to ballet veterans to help support them financially. The winners are selected by a jury. The 2017 nominees are:



Photo Courtesy of Bolshoi Theater

SIDI LARBI CHERKAOUI – Exhibition, Modest Mussorgsky/ Maurice Ravel, Royal Ballet of Flanders.
EDWARD CLUG –Handman, Milko Lazar, NederlandsDans Theater.
HYO-HYUNG KANG – Into the Pulse, Puri, Korean National Ballet.
AKRAM KHAN – Giselle, Vincenzo Lamagna after Adolphe Adam, English National Ballet.
CRYSTAL PITE – The Seasons’ Canon, Antonio Vivaldi, Max Richter, Paris Opera Ballet
ALEXEY RATMANSKY – Serenade after Plato’s Symposium, Leonard Bernstein, American Ballet Theatre.
DEMIS VOLPI – Salomé, different composers, Stuttgart State Ballet.

STELLA ABRERA – Princesse Aurora, The Sleeping Beauty, P.Tchaikovsky/M.Petipa, A.Ratmansky’s version, American Ballet Theater.
NINA KAPTSOVA — Short Time Together, M.Richter, L.Bethoven/P.Lightfoot, S.Leon, Bolshoi Theatre of Russia.
MISA KURANAGA – Tatiana, Onegin, P.Tchaikovsky/J.Cranko; Medora, Le Corsaire, A.Adam/M.Petipa, I.Liška’s version, Boston Ballet.
LUDMILA PAGLIERO – Other Dances, F.Chopen/J.Robbins, Paris Opera Ballet.
SEUL-KI PARK – Aegina, Spartacus, A.Khachaturian/Y.Grigorovich, Korean National Ballet.
MARIA RICCETTO – Tatiana, Onegin, P.Tchaikovsky/J.Cranko, National Ballet of Uruguay.

GUSTAVO CARVALHO – Don Jose, Carmen, G.Bizet/M.Haydée, National Ballet of Uruguay.
DAVIDE DATO – Abderakhman, Raymonde, A.Glazunov/M.Petipa, R. Noureyev’s version, Vienna State Ballet.
JAE-WOO LEE – Karabosse, The Sleeping Beauty, P.Tchaikovsky/M.Petipa, M.Haydée’s version, Korean National Ballet.
BROOKLYN MACK – Leading part, Theme and Variations,P.Tchaikovsky/G.BalanchineTheWashington Ballet.
HUGO MARCHAND – Title role, Romeo and Juliet, S.Prokofiev/R.Noureyev, Paris Opera Ballet.
DENIS RODKIN – Solor, La Bayadère, L.Minkus/M. Petipa, Y.Grigorovich’s version, Bolshoi Theatre of Russia.
JEFFREY CIRIO – Colas, La Fille Mal Gardée, F.Herold/F.Ashton; Title role, Prodigal Son, S.Prokofiev/G.Balanchine, American Ballet Theatre.


The members of the Jubilee Jury, under the presidency of Yuri Grigorovich, are all Benois laureates:

Julio Bocca — Artistic Director of the National Ballet of Uruguy;
Jorma Elo — Choreographer;
Sue Jin Kang — Artistic Director of the Korean National Ballet;
Julie Kent — Artistic Director of the Washington Ballet;
Manuel Legris — Artistic Director of the Vienna State Ballet;
Brigitte Lefevre — Ex-Director of the Paris Opera Ballet, Director of Danse Biennale in Cannes;
Svetlana Zakharova — Prima ballerina of the Bolshoi Theater of Russia.


Center BENOIS: 8-916-106-04-14 (only cash; no online option).
Bolshoi box-office: 8-915-453-31-50 (no online option)
Box-offices around Moscow:
http://www.ticketland.ru +7-495-937-77-37
http://www.parter.ru +7-495-258-00-00
Russian Youth Theater +7-495-692-00-69 (no online option)

Honoring the legend, the man, the humble Julio Bocca.

On Friday night, at the Lincoln Center’s David H. Koch Theater, the ballet world came together to celebrate one man: Julio Bocca. Most nights at the ballet are great, but this night was exceptional. The night began with the crowd filling the lobby of Lincoln Center, the entire ballet world seemed to be there. Among the faces in the crowd were Julie Kent, Isabella Boylston, Lauren Lovette, Stella Abrera (who was nominated for a Prix Benois de la Danse for her performance as Aurora in the Sleeping Beauty), The Olsen Twins, and more. The evening promised to be one of excitement as the playbill listed a long list of principal star dancers. With that many principals, it promised to be a stellar night.

The evening opened with projections of various dancers from around the world wishing Julio Bocca a happy birthday while in front dancers were planning a party and toasting. As it all wound down, there was Marcello Gomes who gave the opening speech. A speech about inspiration and the admiration he has for such a great dancer. He then danced with Luciana Paris in Twyla Tharp’s My Way from Sinatra Suite. This was followed by ballroom dancers Cecilia Figaredo and Hernan Piquin dancing to Michelangelo 70 by Astor Piazzolla. NYCB’s Joaquin De Luz came out to talk about Mr. Bocca and was followed by him dancing Jerome Robbins’ Other Dances with Tiler Peck. A series of beautiful solo variations and cute playfulness engulfed Lincoln Center.


Next, another video of Julio Bocca describing what it was like to dance Romeo and Juliet with Natalia Makarova. This was followed by a letter and voice clip from the Swan Queen herself. It started with a video of Natalia in the balcony scene with Marcelo Gomes being her Romeo. This was then followed with Maria Riccetto (Ballet Nacional SODRE and formerly ABT running out). The two performed MacMillan’s luscious pas de deux. Have not seen her dance since she left ABT, but she has definitely grown as an artist. It was adorable and fresh, everything a Juliet should be. Marcelo pushed his jumps and turns insanely during the opening solo. It was just beautiful dancing.


Yuan Yuan Tan and Vitor Luiz performed the Final Pas e Deux from Bells by Yui Possokhov. Her beautiful red Leo showcased her ridiculous ferocious body and her unbelievable movement quality.


photo by VAM, courtesy of the YAGP

This was followed by Julio Bocca’s thoughts on DON Q, and started with a video of Mr. Bocca and Tamara Rojo performing the exciting pas de deux. Emerging from the wings was Tamara Rojo and Isaac Hernandez of English National Ballet. The two dazzled the crowds with insane balances, never ending pirouettes, triple fouettes, and a sassy playfulness on Ms. Rojo’s part. It was probably the best Kitri I have ever seen.


Gonzalo Garcia of NYCB performed the solo from Mambo Suite, a fun and male flirty variation. Followed by Nina Ananiashvili of State Ballet of Georgia performing Lekuri, a Soviet folk dance in pointe shoes. Yuan Yuan Tan and Vitor Luz came back out to performing the opening of Black Swan Pas De Deux. The audience wanted more but they only did the pas de deux. Her take on black swan is more sly and sleek, befitting to her body.

LaCarra_Dino_YAGP2017BOCCA_GALA_VAM Photo 3.jpg

Photo by VAM, courtesy of the YAGP

Lucia LaCarra and Marlon Dino performed Spiral Twist by Russell Maliphant. This gorgeous, gorgeous pas de deux was complex and intricate. Somewhere between ballet and figure skating the piece was intellectual and thought-provoking for the audience. No pointe shoes, just simple gray costumes, the two moved so elegantly and so luscious that the audience went wild.


Paris_Colomba_YAGP2017BOCCA_GALA_VAM Photo 1.jpg

Photo by VAM, courtesy of the YAGP


Luciana Paris and Rodrigo Colomba (Teatro Folklorico Nacional-Argentina) performed Presente, a world premier by Analia Gonzalez. This super sexy pas de deux made for a very entertaining number. He was strong, supportive, and so into her, it turned the audience on. It was so sexy. His large hands all over her tiny waist and body… She danced in just a long sleeve leotard, he danced in pants and a tank top… Oooh, hot and bothered all over again.

Isabelle Guerin and Manual Legris, former etoiles of Paris Opera, danced Farewell Waltz. A very subtle pas de deux about the end of life. She is everything I have ever imagined about watching her dance life. Slick and effortless technique. He was everything he needed to be, strong but insecure, effortless but distraught.

Vitor Luz performed Percussion 4 from Bob Fosse.

The night ended with all of the dancers toasting Julio Bocca on stage. For most of the young YAGP competitors, they probably didn’t know who Julio Bocca was until now. But, if they could take anything away from the evening it was the humility and thoughtfulness of this man. Everything that was said about him reflected his genuine qualities, his humble attitude, and his never ending hard work.


//Thank you to everyone who sponsored me to go to the YAGP.


The Stars of Today Meet the Stars of Tomorrow:
Thursday, April 13, 2017 @ the David H. Koch Theater @ Lincoln Center

Any evening at Lincoln Center always promises to be a success and enjoyable for the mature ballet goer. But, tonight was different as hundreds of young ballet dancers flocked to the fountain with the anticipation of what was to come. Tonight, the Youth America Grand Prix hosted a beautiful gala honoring their lifetime achievement honoree Bruce Marks, the pure talent of top performers from the Prix, and professionals from all around the world. Dozens of professional dance icons glided across the marble floors at Lincoln Center to support their colleagues, young dancers, and the talented and forever a part of ballet history Bruce Marks. By the time the audience sat and the house lights dimmed, the sold-out house was ready for ballet.The energy was different from other nights at theater. It was young, it was hopeful, it was exciting. As the lights dimmed, dozens of screams from the third and fourth ring poured into Lincoln Center, the anticipation was bursting, and it led to a spectacular evening of ballet.


Brady Farrar_YAGP2017STMST_GALA_VAM Photo 1.jpg

Photo by VAM PRODUCTIONS, courtesy of the YAGP

It opened with a male pre-competitor, Brady Farrar doing the variation from Talisman that was pretty awesome. Followed by the pas de deux from Coppellia from Master’s Juniors featuring Avery Gay. Classical Dance Academy performed a competitive ensemble piece titled Existence that involved a glowing pink parachute. Junior division’s Takumi Miyaki performed the male variation from Swan Lake. This was followed by a contemporary solo from Jan Spunda titled “Swan” which was a male take on Dying Swan. A senior from Korea redid her variation from Raymonda. Tara from Portugal performed a contemporary solo in a skirt. Maddison Penny blew the audience away with her variation of Esmeralda and Taro Kurachi blew everyone over again with his Don Q variation. This was followed by the Grand Défilé with choreography by YAGP resident choreographer Carlos do Santos, Jr that included 300 YAGP participants from 30 countries. It rivaled many corps de ballets from major companies. It was just legs for days and clean technique. Arms that are too short for their bodies because of their ages, but beautifully proportioned bodies.
YAGP 2017 Gala Starts of Today Meet the Stars of Tomorrow

Photo by VAM PRODUCTIONS, courtesy of the YAGP

The night then honored Bruce Marks. The talented and beautiful Nina Ananiashvili presented the award. His acceptance speech was funny, heartfelt and inspiring. Then it just got long a political, but he is Bruce Marks and 80, so let the man do his thing.

YAGP 2017 Gala Starts of Today Meet the Stars of Tomorrow

Photo by VAM PRODUCTIONS, courtesy of the YAGP

ACT II brought the roaring applause. The second half of the program opened with Tiler Peck and Zachary Catazaro performing Wheeldon’s Pas De Deux from Carousel. It was a very cute pas de deux but completely out of text from the Carousel Suite… Without the entire ballet the pas de deux is kind of boring. They were not boring, as I adore Tiler Peck. He was nice, but

James Whiteside then performed in place of Xander Parish in a solo by Marcelo Gomes. James Whiteside is beyond beautiful, the problem with this solo was that it was not thought out well. It seemed very disjointed and lacked the interesting factor.

YAGP 2017 Gala Starts of Today Meet the Stars of TomorrowBrittany O’Connor and Paul Barris performed a very sexy ballroom number involving one pointe shoe and a backless sequin dress with a live music ensemble. She had legs and body for days… Like for days. So between ballroom steps and ballet steps, the sexy duo performed with intricate lifts and spiraling whip arounds. Photo courtesy of the YAGP by VAM.


Skyler Brandt and Gabe Stone Sayer performed the always crowd pleasing pas de deux from Spring Waters. Both are now at ABT and both former YAGP finalists. He was charismatic, and she as full of energy like always. Skyler Brandt is truly turning into ballet’s sweat heart, and there is a clear reason: she is adorable. Her big eyes, all American body type, a smile that’s worth a million dollars and she’s clean.

Svetlana Lukina and Evan McKie performed David Dawson’s new Swan Lake Pas De Deux. In this minimal costuming, and contemporary take, the White Swan has total control and is almost enticing. She is mesmerizing and this was probably the most interesting piece of the night. For the mature balletomane, this probably was the jewel of the evening, but for the kids and this young audience, it wasn’t enough… But what came at the end truly was what the audience craved…

Ian Spring performed the always popular David Parson’s Caught. If you haven’t seen it, it involves a very cool strobe hiding the in-between steps and only what Mr. Parson’s wants you to see. Like a series of photographs. I have now seen Angel Corella do it and it was awful but the audience liked him and Glen Simmons from Ailey which was spectacular. Ian Spring brought a very fun and very lively take to it which I enjoyed a lot. Plus, the kids were going crazy over it.

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Photo by VAM, courtesy of the YAGP




Goddess Lucia Lacarra and Marlon Dino performed Light Rain by Gerald Arpino. The choreography was dated, but it showcased Ms. Lacarra’s impeccable legs and feet and the fact that she has no hips. It was purely all about flexibility.

The night was then stolen by Tamara Rojo and Cesar Corrales (baby daddy status) from English National Ballet. They performed the pas de deux from Le Corsaire which ENB just did. It was so impressive. He was so impressive. From his ENB’s emerging artist performance to skyrocketing through the company, Cesar Corrales might just be ballet next Roberto Bolle. With the exception that he turns with his shoulders up. Tamara Rojo was beyond marvelous. Her technique was spotless and her triple fouettes were quite impressive as they came with ease. The audience adored them. Ovations galore, as they deserved it.

It was a great and exciting night as the young ballet bunheads of tomorrow screamed with admiration. It was a great, beautiful and crazy night. A night where young ballet hopefuls became even more inspired by ballet legends and royalty.


Thank you to all of my sponsors who helped me go cover the YAGP FINALS in NYC.

Winners of the YAGP 2017

The list of the stunning winners of the YAGP 2017:
Photo, Madison Penney, in Esmeralda. Photo by VAM Productions, Courtesy of the YAGP

1. Academia Annarella, Portugal, Cuba Linda, Cuba Hermosa
2. The Rock School for Dance Education, USA, Black Veil
3. Yarita Yu Ballet Studio, Japan, Pace


HOPE AWARD: Brady Farrar, Stars Dance Studio
1. Yoojin Jang, Universal Ballet Academy, Korea
2. Emma Topalova, Pittsburgh Ballet House, USA
3. Ana Luiza Moraes Sartini, Ballet Vortice, Brasil

Contemporary Pas De Deux:
1. Master Ballet Academy, USA, No Regrets 
2. Ellison Ballet, USA, Le Manteau Rouge
The Rock Center for Dance, USA, Hopak Dity
(Misprint, originally, it was stated that it went to the Rock School for Dance Education, but it went to the Rock Center for Dance based out Las Vegas)

Pas De Deux Classical:
1. Master Ballet Academy/Academia Anarella (USA/PORTUGAL)
2. Liceul De Coregrafie Floria Capsali (Romania)
3. Tallinn Ballet School (Estonia)

Junior Men:
1. Takumi Miyake, Kondo Ballet, Japan
2. Lazaro Corrales, Independent, Canada
3. Darrion Sellman, Los Angeles Ballet Academy, USA

Junior Women:
GRAND PRIX WINNER, Madison Penney, Master Ballet Academy
1. Hanna Park, Sunhwa Arts Middle & High School, Korea
2. Viola Pantuso, Ellison Ballet, USA
3. Jordan Coutts, V and T Classical Ballet Academy, USA
3. Juliette Bosco, Independent, USA

Senior Men:
1. Taro Kurachi, Ellison, USA
2. Jun Young Yang, National University of Arts, Korea
3. Yuedong Sun, Secondary School of Bejing Dance Academy, P.R. of China

Senior Women:
1. Gloria Benaglia, Ellison Ballet, USA
2. Chloe Misseldine, Orlando Ballet School, USA
3. Lauren Hunter, Marat Daukayev School of Ballet, USA

Shelley King Award for Excellence:
Remie Madeleine Goins

Grishko Award:
Sophia Vance

The Oustanding Artistry Award:
Jan Spunda

Natalia Makarova Award:
Elisabeth Beyer

Outstanding School Award:
Academia Annarella


And the winner is… YAGP 2017

Thank you to my list of donors who have helped make this trip possible. This afternoon, at Lincoln Center at the David H. Koch Theater hundreds of young potential ballet dancers, flooded the audience. These young hopeful students sat around in anticipation as the winners of the 2017 YAGP were announced.

From the pre-competitive division, the Hope award went to Brady Farrar from Stars Dance Studio.

The winner of the Junior Grand Prix was Madison Penney from Master Ballet Academy, AZ for her variation from Esmeralda.

From the senior category, no one won the grand prix.

The Shelley King Award for Excellence went to Remie Madeleine Goins. The Outstanding Artistry Award went to Jan Spunda from English National Ballet School. The Natalia Makarova Award went to my favorite, Elisabeth Beyer.

Senior Women Top 3:
1.Gloria Benaglia, Ellison USA
2.Chloe Misseldine, Orlando Ballet School USA
3.Lauren Hunter, Marat Daukayev School USA
Senior Men Top 3:
1.Taro Kurachi, Don Q, Ellison, USA
2.Jun Young Yang, Paquita, National University of Arts, Korea
3. Jan Spunda, English National Ballet School, Czech Republic
3. Yuedong Sun, Secondary School of Bejing Dance Academy, P.R. of China.

The most important part of this afternoon was the endless amounts scholarships given out. Hundreds of scholarships were given out to all age groups, most receiving multiple offers to the best schools in the world. Now, these young potential dancers will have their choice of going to a school who wants them. Register now for the 2018 YAGP.

The Current Sessions: The Big Balloon. April 14 & 15 @ Wild Project (NYC)

roya the current sessions
In the middle of the hustle and bustle of NYC, I found myself somewhere between peaceful intimacy and inspiration. Hosted by The Current Sessions, this community workshop was a preview of the TCS x Roya Carreras: The Big Balloon that goes on tonight. The workshop created such a sense of intimacy in the room and was beyond inspiring. Ms. Carreras walked the room through a series of exercises about giving and receiving yourself to one another, and how to create a pathway supported by resistance, conscious thought, and impulse reactions. Her soothing voice and intricate movements allowed for this juxtaposition of humanity and intimacy. The workshop was a preview of what her installation and performance will be tonight.

Roya Carreras holds her BFA in Dance from University of California, Irvine. This Iranian-Hispanic artist is not only classically trained in ballet, but uses a variety of genres, mediums, and thought processes to curate work. Learn more here.
the current sessions roya

LAB // SESSIONS with Roya Carreras on April 12 partnered with Arts on Site and The Playground.

tcs roya carreras dance review

Obviously, this is not ballet, but the idea of being able to connect, to be supportive, and to find yourself by carving out space is a much-needed concept in ballet. It was really inspiring and so delicate. The Current Sessions was founded by Alexis Convento, a classically trained dancer who holds her BFA in Dance from Fordham/Ailey.

Photos by me.

Catching up with Robbie Downey (BalletBabble // BalletFreak)

Robbie Downey YAGP 2017
Catching up with social media sensation, entrepreneur, and ballet dancer Robbie Downey. And, if you don’t know who she is, she is the eighteen-year-old who everyone has grown up with online. Catching the first wave of youtube channels five years back, Robbie Downey has documented her ballet journey through various social media platforms. So, this cool kid took some time in between sessions at the YAGP FINALS to meet up with a Ballet Education. Between social media accounts with a huge following, and dealing with her own personal ballet journey, Robbie Downey is the voice of positivity. Unfortunately, she didn’t make it to the final round, but she has hopes for scholarships. That is the great thing at the YAGP, you don’t have to make it to the final round to still get a scholarship spot. So, if you don’t follow her, this San Diego native has spent a year at Ellison and now is at Masters in Scottsdale, AZ. She has battled injuries and documents her journey all over social media. Agreeing that in ballet, exposure these days can make or break a career, and with her half a million followers, she has it.

So, how does she juggle it all? With the help of her mom. 
Robbie Downey Youtube

How do you take your coffee? Prefers Green Tea
Last movie you watched? Don’t Breathe
Current Song/Playlist: anything by Muse
What does she want out of her dancing? To inspire others and to balance it with dancing for herself.
Favorite thing to do when not doing ballet? Eating good vegan food.
Where to next for ballet? Possibly Spain.
robbie downey ballet life copy
Follow this cool kid on instagram:
@balletfreak / @balletbabble @its_robbie_
Follow her on Youtube: MydanceTV
Shop her brand: Farina.
Like on Facebook: Facebook.

Photos by me 🙂

Vogue has Anna… Ballet has Larissa Saveliev (Founder of the YAGP)

The world of fashion has Anna Wintour, the ballet world hasLarissa S Larissa Saveliev, artistic director at the Youth Ameria Grand Prix. As it goes by the YAGP, founded in 1999, the YAGP has become a force to be reckoned with. The YAGP starts with thousands upon thousands of students competing at the semi finals all around the world, and narrows down to a select few hundred for the finals. The finals happen in NYC and stretch on for about ten days. Over the ten days they take master classes and workshops from the world’s best teachers, artistic directors and dancers. From there a select few are chosen for the final round and perform at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center.

I was super lucky enough to talk to Larissa about the YAGP. Not only is her job to pull off the YAGP, but her main concern and constant focus are the nurturing of each young dancer, and understanding how she can help that dancer succeed. She doesn’t just see the number, but the child. She knows each kid personally, and she does her best to help each and every one. It’s a big deal. She is nurturing each child and helping them get connected to the right school or company.

The new wave of the competition: Boys… The young boys and young men at the YAGP are dominating the YAGP. More and more boys are becoming present at the YAGP and pushing towards the front of the competition.

As she nurtures kids, the YAGP is dictating technique, new takes on variations and pushing towards the front of the ballet trend. Ms. Saveliev sees herself as the step in between company directors and students. She has so much access to directors and the ability to help kids, that she doesn’t want the competition to become commercial. She wants to keep the nurturing personal level of helping kids follow their dreams.

“We want to keep helping improving the education in ballet.”

Even if kids can’t make it to New York, the kids still have connections to her and she does her best to stay in contact with them. “Don’t give up and pursue your dream. You can get rejected multiple times, but it takes one person to say yes and you can become successful.” And the proof is in the pudding. The list of the YAGP alumnae grows and grows each year. And each year alumnae come back to support the YAGP and the future generation of ballet. Tonight’s audience at the Gala included dozens of YAGP superstars who are now at major companies.

So, what is Larissa doing after the YAGP? Staying home and watching TV on the couch for a week! A well-deserved position for a woman who is juggling hundreds of kids, thousands of parents and coaches, teachers, artistic directors, venue coordinators and more.



YAGP FINAL ROUND // Elisabeth Beyer in Stantinella, photographed by VAM, courtesy of the YAGP.

Elizabeth Beyer FR17 VAM 1 copy.jpg
Sorry, the internet at the hotel is horrible… and they charge you… not to mention this crazy fiasco at the hotel over a pair of my shoes… Anyways…

Yesterday was the craziest day. Yesterday, Wednesday, I woke up and did my interview with Larissa Saveliev, founder and former Bolshoi ballerina. I then moved on to teach at PeriDance Capezio with Kat Wildish. I then photographed LAB SESSIONS/ ARTS ON SITE’s Roya Carreras. Following running back to the hotel, and then running into Tamara Rojo, director of English National Ballet. Last night’s finals were intense and on fire. My favorite dancer of the evening was Elisabeth Beyer. Her variation from Satanella was close to perfect. Though the audience went googoo ga-ga over a boy from the US’s DON Q… literally five-minute ovation. I was trying to upload all these videos from the live stream on instgram… buuuuuut the internet here is sucky. Tonight is the Stars of Tomorrow… and have ran into dozens of professional dancers who would blow your mind away.

I promise to update tonight with the winner!! Follow in instagram for live streams @aballeteducation


Hello there,
I was invited by Kat Wildish to teach tomorrow morning! If you are in NYC and want to take class stop on by!! CLASS is at 10:00 AM at PeriDance Capezio!! Super excited…

Company Class

On another note, today was really chaotic between traveling, flight being delayed, expensive cab fares and more… It was very stressful. But, I’m HERE!!! THANK YOU AGAIN!! Don’t forget FLASH SALE…. Doodle Me’s are only $10.00! Will be doing them when I get back from the YAGP. Click below to buy!


Today’s Ballet Class …

With less than 24 hours before I go to the YAGP, the nerves have started to build up. Between stressing over cab fares, packing, and not being able to fit into any of my ridiculously overpriced suits… I needed to get away… So, I went to a ballet class. A very dependable ballet class. I knew the combinations were going to be pretty, and I could do my own thing.

So, besides the fact that I became extremely hungry after bar as I didn’t eat breakfast… I was surprised during my warm up to see another friend from CPYB. It now means, I believe just from people I went with… there is like, I dunno, 8 of us in the Phoenix area. Okay, so today’s warm up was brought to you by the music of Clean Bandit ft Sean Paul & Anne-Marie…. This Rockabye song is super catchy.

Class was pretty good, my hamstrings are still really tight and so are my hips. But regardless, it was a great class… annnnnd…. I MADE IT THROUGH THE ENTIRE CLASS…. despite the awful dry heat of Arizona, and my fat panda body being everywhere… I made it through the entire class… I’m going to credit my spiffy moss green RubiaWear legwarmers. While this class isn’t the most accurate in technique and precision it focuses a lot on movement quality, it is why he is such a big name in Arizona. It was nice… My feet only cramped twice, which is a considerable decrease from last week.

Now if only ballet class let you shed 10 pounds so you could button your suit pants… then I would be all set.

I did not attempt my splits yet, mostly because I don’t want to be emberassed hahaha. I will probably try them in a couple of weeks when my body becomes a bit more pliable. I have been kind of stretching more, and rolling out more as well. Hopefully soon my body will feel bendable. Right now it just feels like a stiff log.

Tonight, I interview Larissa Savielev, founder of the YAGP on the phone before I go.

Now onto packing! Don’t forget, all 8×10″ prints are on sale for $19.99- you can literally pick any doodle or drawing I have ever done. Click below to purchase.
any print


As I am still gathering money up for my trip to the YAGP Finals, I wanted to do something nice for all the support I have gotten. So, I decided to offer up any print for $19.99. It will ship when I get back from the YAGP. Thanks again everyone. Now off to ballet class.

any print

I’m Going to NYC & YAGP!


THANK YOU to the list of people have asked to remain anonymous. I didn’t reach my goal, but I got enough to book my flight and hotel. I just need to cover my cab fares, food, and miscellaneous expenses. But the important news is I am going to the YAGP FINALS:

Performances by
Svetlana Lunkina & Evan Mckie, National Ballet Of Canada
Tamara Rojo And Cesar Corrales, English National Ballet
Lucia Lacarra And Marlon Dino, Bayerisches Staatsballett
Skylar Brandt And Gabe Stone Shayer, American Ballet Theatre
… And More!
IF you want to take a class from me, I am teaching open class Wednesday, April 12 at 10:00 AM at PerriDance Capezio on behalf of the fantastic Kat Wildish.
126 E 13th St | New York, NY 10003
Do you want to help support my trip? Help by ordering the third doodle book for $150.00

Doodle Book 3 Cover

Working on that Arabesque Rotation…

Okay I look crazy and sound crazy in this video… I am obviously out of shape but a lot of adults have asked how I have been working on improving my arabesque and getting my rotation back… So here it is… I am so bad at video blogging… I promise I will get better… Or I will try to….  The struggle is real.

Sorry again… but I hope this helps! You should try it just once… See if it helps you feel the rotation.

On another note… I am like only two sponsors away from the YAGP!!!

Have a ballet question? Email it over.

Halfway to the YAGP

a ballet education goes hard
Thank you all so much for your support!!!
I am actually almost halfway to my goal!! I am short about $2,200.00 so I am just four sponsors short. It has actually been really crazy as everyone has wished to stay anonymous. It is really quite encouraging and makes me think I really can make this blog a full-time job. Click below to sponsor.
Company Class
Speaking of which, job hunting has been kind of ridiculous. I am either too qualified for smaller schools and studios, or underqualified for universities. But if you know of any jobs… let me know. Also, I have decided to go back into SOCIAL MEDIA marketing, creation, protection and management. After working for Follow That Media and Social Culture, I feel like I can help dance schools and studios with their social media and websites. If you are interested please message me here.

Okay, adult class… So, today was pretty intense… slightly because I had some drinks last night. Yes, I haven’t been feeling well, but Gin cleans the system. Okay, not true… but I know my body enough that if I have a drink while sick it like reboots me, crazy I know. So, it was a rough morning. Between the two Gatorades I downed and a Pedialite, followed by a coffee… I was ready to go. Foam roller, new RubiaWear legwarmers, and my foot stretcher I was ready. Oh, a bunch of you have asked about some stuff… First… I paid for my RubiaWear, and yes I know it is expensive but you have to invest in quality. The foot stretcher is expensive as well, but I have had it for a while, and it really does work and pay off. You have to invest in quality to ensure maximum results and the protection of your body. Foot stretchers can give you tendonitis and I feel like the foot stretcher I have doesn’t, and allows for you to shape your wing.

Okidokie, back to ballet class… NEW STUDIO. Barre was healthy. I had a really hard time picking up combinations. It could have been that I was tired or just out of it… but the combinations were really good at getting me warmed up and placing me on my legs and hips. That is always really cute. Downside, my lower back has still been really intense. Even after I warmed it up and my lower back brace it still was not feeling it. So, I didn’t do center. But, the backs of my legs are coming back… Thank god… Summer is basically here, and I need to get back down to at least a 32″… Mostly because I purchased a ton of Swimwear last year for Pride, Beach Parties, White Party and Miami last year… So, I would like to fit back into them and not have things rolling over and hanging out. And my adult video for arabesque is coming…. It’s pretty low quality but works.


The finals have started in NYC, as young dancers flood NYC. The YAGP has invited me to cover their final round, the Gala and the Julio Bocca tribute. The prices keep going up and would like to finish booking everything today… So, as I have yet to sleep, because I am trying to make this happen…. I’ve decided to put up something for sale… It is probably one of the most special things I own since creating a Ballet Education… buuut, I feel that going to the YAGP will definitely help the blog and networking… Anyways, so, I am putting up my signed copy of the Leading Ladies of PNB. There are only two other copies in existence, one went to a charity auction, the other to a Ballet Education contributor in Seattle. (click below to purchase)

leading ladies of pnb.JPG

If you are still wanting to sponsor my blog please click here!

Today’s Ramblings… 4.6.17

Company Class

Wow, I had an anonymous person donate to my YAGP FUND... That is crazy amazing. This person asked to remain anonymous, but it was extremely generous as it came from halfway around the world… One down, 7 to go!

On another note, I started doodling today but was interrupted by the postmaster, which was a good surprise. My new legwarmers finally came after a mix-up at the post office. I was supposed to take class tomorrow, but I think I am coming down with something, so I have been essential oiling it up today. I attempted to stretch but my lower back is really hurting… usually happens when I get sick.

Secondly, I woke up from a nap today with all of the Syria stuff going on… SMH… That just made my head hurt even more.

Thirdly… and I don’t even know if it is appropriate to even be talking about my personal life on my blog… But I Feel like my life has spun out of control. I moved to Arizona for a job, and gave up a great life in Los Angeles… I gave my job 3,000% and then shit went sideways. So, now unemployed, slightly confused, and hustling my butt off to make ends meet… I wonder if I should just go back into fashion or keep pushing the blog head on. I mean I have the technical book that I have been killing myself over, the nutcracker book, and now another book that I didn’t write… So, it seems like maybe I can turn this blog and magazine into a full-time job, but it is definitely a struggle. I don’t like the starving artist life… lol… I like my fashion posh life… lol… Oh well, excuse my rambling and complaining. I know I should be so grateful for everything this blog has brought me, and I am. It really does come from a sincere place. Just a new place in my life.

On another note, I get to do some cool illustrations for a photographer I admire. And a brand in Korea has asked to use my fashion illustration of their brand. Again, a lot to be grateful for. Now hoping to get to the YAGP.