Ballet West presents Nicolo Fonte’s CARMINA BURANA With Jerome Robbins’ GLASS PIECES

Ballet West will revive Nicolo Fonte’s Carmina Burana with the Utah premiere of Jerome Robbins’ Glass Pieces in an electrifying evening of dance, music, and drama.

DATES: April 1 – 9, 2022
TIMES: April 1, 2, 7, 9 – 7:30 PM; April 2, 9 – 2:00 PM
LOCATION: Janet Quinney Lawson Capitol Theatre, 50 West 200 South, Salt Lake City, UT
RUNTIME: 1 hour 45 minutes with one intermission
TICKETS: balletwest.org

Recommended for ages 8 and up.
Programs, artists, and dates subject to change.

  • The evening includes 55 Ballet West dancers, an over 60-member chorus with three solo choral artists, and more than 50 musicians
  •  The program opens with the Ballet West premiere of Jerome Robbins’ 1983 Glass Pieces set to the music of Philip Glass
  • Carmina Burana is a unique partnership with Cantorum Chamber Choir and Westminster College
  • After Ballet West’s premiere of Carmina Burana in 2017, the work was instantly in demand and is now in the repertoire of three companies around the country

The great American choreographer Jerome Robbins is best known for his work in Broadway and film with such shows as West Side StoryThe King and I, and Fiddler on the Roof. But he also had an extensive history with classical ballet, shaping the international rise of New York City Ballet with George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein. In 1983, Robbins created the groundbreaking work Glass Pieces to the pulsating, minimalist music of iconic American composer Philip Glass. The ballet reflects the hectic drive of our time as it juxtaposes with the magic in our souls. As the curtain rises to a graph paper backdrop, wave after wave of people randomly cross the stage as mystical dancers appear in their midst, unnoticed by the hordes. The work follows an hypnotic path to a spectacular conclusion. Adam Sklute said of Glass Pieces, “This world-renowned ballet is a reflection of our times. It is also a great showpiece for our corps de ballet as they are ultimately the stars of this magnificent work.”Carmina Burana, Carl Orff’s 1936 cantata about the wheel of fate in Medieval times, is likely familiar to many audiences. The music has appeared for decades in many films, including Glory, The Hunt for Red October, and The Doors. It is also, thanks to its drama and power, a regular staple of television shows, commercials, and movie trailers.

Carmina Burana Ballet West Prinicipal Artists Beckanne Sisk & Chase O’Connell Photo by Luke Isley

Carmina Burana has a long history with Ballet West. BW Founder William Christensen daringly introduced Utah audiences to this provocative work in 1974, with John Butler’s historic 1959 version. It quickly became one of the most often requested ballets in BW history. In 2017, Artistic Director Adam Sklutecommissioned Resident Choreographer Nicolo Fonte to create a new, 21stcentury production of this seminal work, and the new production became an immediate hit.

Said Adam Sklute of the piece, “…Nicolo Fonte has an amazing gift for taking well-known pieces of music and illuminating them with his exciting and unexpected vision. Nicolo’s dynamic approach stays true to the classic text and concept while throwing us into a world of unexplored movement, art, and metaphor.”

For this exciting production, Ballet West is partnering with Utah County-based Cantorum Chamber Choir directed by Steve Durtschi, Artistic Director; and Westminster College Director of Choral Activities Jane Fjeldsted to provide this huge chorus of over 60 dancers who sing on a platform suspended over the dancers. The leading singers are Melissa Heath, soprano; Christopher Puckett, tenor; and Christopher Clayton, baritone, who interact with the dancers below on stage.

CARMINA BURANA

Choreography: Nicolo Fonte | Music: Carl Orff
Costume Design: Christine Darch | Scenic Design: Michael Korsch
World Premiere: November 13, 2017, Janet Quinney Lawson Capitol Theatre, Salt Lake City, Utah

GLASS PIECES

Choreography: Jerome Robbins | Music: Philip Glass
Costume Design: Ben Benson | Scenic Design: Jerome Robbins and Ronald Bates (Production Design) | Lighting: Ronald Bates
World Premiere: May 12, 1983, New York City Ballet, New York State Theater, New York City, New York

(featured image: Carmina Burana Artists of Ballet West Photo by Luke Isley)

#ThrowbackThursday: Katlyn Addison, Ballet West’s Newest Principal Dancer

As Ballet West dancers are in preparation for this coming season, the 2021 – 2022 season has already left its mark in Ballet West’s history. September 2020 cover model, Katlyn Addison will enter the Ballet West stage as the first non – Asian principal women in the companies history. Get to know Katlyn from our 2020 profile! This profile was photographed by Joshua Whitehead, current demi-soloist for Ballet West.

Joined Ballet West 2011

@KatlynAddison 

Katlyn is poised and reflective, with a focused determination and commitment to her career. I still remember one of my first conversations with Katlyn sitting around the rosin box in the middle of a performance. She had just joined Ballet West from Houston Ballet, and already expressed her goal of rising through the ranks at Ballet West. I have always been impressed by Katlyn’s confidence. This confidence and determination, as well as hard work and perseverance has served her well during her time at Ballet West.

Katlyn has made history as the third black ballerina in history to play the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker, and was named one of “26 Black Female Choreographers and Dancers You Should Know” by Huffington Post. In fall 2019, Katlyn performed numerous leading roles with The Scottish National Ballet as a guest artist and received a multitude of positive reviews. Recently, she was one of many local artists to create a Black Lives Matter mural in Salt Lake City. 

She is currently a first soloist at Ballet West, and has been asked to serve on the board of a new local non-profit organization here in Salt Lake City. She continues to tackle challenges head on whether they be on stage, teaching the next generation of dancers, or choreographing new works. 

Adam Sklute, Ballet West’s Artistic Director, on Katlyn Addison

​I actually worked for years to get Katlyn to Ballet West.  I first saw her over a decade ago when she was just a young teenager competing at YAGP in order to get a work visa to work in the US. It was in Dallas, Texas and I offered her BWII on the spot. She was already going to be an apprentice at Houston Ballet. I followed her career and stayed in touch for years and when she was ready to come to Ballet West I welcomed her into the company with open arms. Katlyn is a beautiful, elegant, statuesque woman. She has a strong technique, clear line, and a huge jump. She projects a natural glamour and strength, combined with a regal femininity that made it clear to me that she was perfect for Ballet West.

Kat, as she becomes more confident, has emerged more and more as a clear leader in the organization.  She was always a beautiful dancer with all the qualities I mentioned before but just this past year she blossomed and is not afraid to bare her soul on stage. She also has begun to own her mantle as a leading dancer with a sense of calm authority which I look for in my leading dancers.  I was sorry that we had to cut this season short as she is on the verge of a huge leap. I can’t wait to get back to work with her and see her stage again.

Favorite Roles Katlyn has performed with Ballet West

Adam: “Russian” in Serenade, “The Woman” in The Green Table, “Myrthe” in Giselle.

via GIPHY

Did you know from a young age you wanted to pursue ballet professionally?

 When I was younger, my mother used to take my sister and I to annual Christmas performances of the Nutcracker at the National Ballet of Canada. During the Nutcracker performance apparently, I leaned over towards my mom and said, “I want to be that ballerina one day,” pointing to the Sugar Plum Fairy on stage. As cheesy as this story sounds, that’s what triggered me wanting to pursue ballet. Being a ballerina is hard work, and continuous training can provide you with the growth you need to be successful. I am driven by the daily challenges. Daily in classical ballet, I am constantly thinking about what I can improve. If it’s not my technique, it’s my artistry; if it’s not my artistry or technique, it’s the partnership of working with other dancers. There must be constant growth, it is not only external for us, but also the mental balance and positive motivation that has driven me this far into pursuing classical ballet as a profession.  

Who were some of the ballerinas you idolized growing up? 

 I never idolized a ballerina. I did really love watching Karen Kain growing up, and Jaquel Andrews in my first few years dancing with Houston Ballet. What inspired me to join Houston Ballet was being able to finally see someone who looked like me, Lauren Andersonn, the first African American Principal ballerina who I was able to see perform. She has coached me, and still to this day, mentors me along this classical ballet journey of a career. She wasn’t an idol personally to me, but she definitely has inspired me in indescribable ways to continue to believe in my worth as a classical ballerina, and has helped me focus to keep pushing to become my best despite the odds as a woman of color in a classical ballet world.

How long have you been at Ballet West and where else have you danced? How has your professional experience been at the different companies?

I danced at Houston Ballet in the Corps de Ballet. Stanton Welch, the Artistic Director at Houston Ballet, hired me as a younger inexperienced dancer. Opportunities were limited to grow and build or develop my skill set. I was able to learn through viewing other dancers and built confidence for later opportunities. I would say I’ve had two different types of professional experiences: one was survival, and other artistry development. This is my 9th year working with Adam Sluke, Artistic Director of Ballet West. I am presently a First Soloist who believes actions speak louder than words, casting is what is needed for a ballerina to grow and develop. The opportunities I have had in my varied roles challenged my talent and developed my artistry. I have been selected for many roles to advance my career and develop my skills as a classical ballerina. But I am not just given these roles, I have to be disciplined, work hard, practice with individuals, groups and by myself to ensure I take advantage of all opportunities given. Every year or two since my arrival at Ballet West I have been promoted throughout the rankings in the company. I continue to focus on my goal of becoming a Principal ballerina and aim to display the artistry of every role and ballet I dance. My experiences with Houston Ballet and Ballet West have impacted and influenced my career and advancement in the ballet world.

via GIPHY

How has Adam supported you in your career?

Adam has been very supportive in my career over the years. Since joining the company in 2011, Adam has promoted me in Ballet West artistic ranking every other year since 2013. Adam has cast me in roles that influence the community’s perceptions of Black Ballerinas. He supports, encourages, and provides the training I have needed to advance my career. His actions speak louder than words by promoting a woman of color in the classical ballet world, as it is not the norm. He has shown that the artistry of ballet can be performed by individuals regardless of their color

Can you tell us about your experiences as a choreographer and what your choreographic process is like?  

My experience as a choreographer has been tough at times, but it has been extremely rewarding to watch my peers perform something that has been manifesting within me over years and then become a full creation. At Ballet West I’ve been able to create two premiering ballets, The Hunt in 2017 and Hidden Voices in 2019.  In 2019, I choreographed for the Utah Artist Festival. Two new pieces in 2015 and 2017 were done for ArtEmotion. In 2017, I created a piece for Ava Ballet Theater in Nevada. I hope to keep creating and allowing my choreographic voice to be heard through other opportunities. At this time, I do have something in the works but, unable to make it public. I am excited for the future to create a premiere on a beautiful group of local artists. 

As I strive for uniqueness, my choreographic vision is constantly developing. I usually come into a creation with little to no expectations, allowing the music and dancers to lead each movement naturally from step to step. The spiritual part of dancing plays a huge role in my creative works. If I don’t feel something internally, I don’t create! 

How would you like to see the ballet world change in terms of diversity, inclusion, and equity?

To change the ballet world would involve individuals with power and privilege to have anti-black racism training and address their bias so that young dancers are viewed with an anti-racist lens. Simply speaking, equity just means fair. The “look” of a ballerina in the ballet world can change if we allow different ethnicities to flourish. Classic Ballet is a very special, unique, privileged, specific style of dance. I love this art form because it’s so challenging and demanding. I think the people in power and authority in ballet schools, academies, and classical ballet companies need to examine why they’re primarily comprised of one race and ethnicity!

What forms of racism have you faced on your journey?

I have encountered many examples of systemic racism, individual racism, microaggressions, and racist comments on my journey. I would also ask everyone to look at the companies in the US. How many classical ballet companies have black Principal dancers, Artistic Directors, or even more than two black ballerinas in their company? It’s definitely something to look at and is not often addressed.

What’s your favorite movie?

 My favourite movie is Love & Basketball.

via GIPHY

How do you like to spend your free time?

I enjoy spending my free time sharing meals with friends, picnicking, and hanging out with my family and friends. I love cooking, hiking, horseback riding, trying new restaurants, and traveling the world! As cheesy as this sounds, being out in nature is truly my happy place and a place where my spirit feels free, restful, and rejuvenated.

What is the most courageous thing you have done in your life?

Hmmm, the most courageous thing I’ve ever done was cliff diving in Saint Lucia with some local individuals hours after meeting them…I can’t even tell you where they took my sister and I, but I do know it was gorgeous and we jumped off a crazy cliff into the Ocean! 

Can you tell us about your time guesting with Scottish National Ballet? What did you get to perform and what was it like dancing for a company overseas? 

 Dancing overseas was such a unique experience, and created a hunger to continue sharing my artistry and movement all over the world! While with the Scottish National Ballet, in Glasgow, Scotland, I was able to perform two different world premier ballets. I danced the role of Titubia, in The Crucible, choreographed by Helen Pickett, and in Snow Queen choreographed by Christopher Hampson, Artistic Director of Scottish Ballet, I danced the leading role of the Snow Queen. Both were two totally different ballets. The Crucible, is based on Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible, written in 1953. The role I danced technically wasn’t challenging, but the character of Tituba was very heavy, with many layers of artistry. The classical storybook ballet the Snow Queen, is a full length ballet, and the lead role is very layered and challenging to dance throughout two different acts. I have always heard that Europeans have a great appreciation for the arts and especially ballet. The audience certainly showed delight in my performances. It was a wonderful life experience sharing my artistry in another part of the world and receiving a lot of positive responses to my dancing. 

Katlyn Addison and Evan Loudon in The Snow Queen. © Andy Ross

What is your dream role or ballet to dance? 

Honestly, I don’t have a particular dream role I’d like to do. I would just love to perform the leading role of a story book ballet, for example, Odette (white swan) in Swan Lake or Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, etc. That would be a dream come true.

What are some of your most memorable roles or performances? 

When I think back on some memorable performances or dance roles I’ve dreamt of performing, I will never forget dancing, “Woman #4” in William Forsythe’s, In The Middle Somewhat Elevated. For this role I danced two solos and a pas de deux. It is a very meaty woman’s role to be featured in and so fun to dance! It was our last performance of the season and Ballet West was on tour in Dallas. It was 2015, and I was dancing the pas with my partner, Adrian Fry. It was my first principal role to perform on tour. If I was to describe the internal feeling I had while performing, I would say we just connected. Everything from the body movement, to the connection with my partner, every touch, glance, our steps just felt right.  I remember feeling stretched to the limits and dancing so hard that both of our costumes were soaking wet with sweat. It just felt so exciting! When I think about these memories in my career, I think how lucky we are as dancers to have space on stage to be able to freely express ourselves in movement. It’s a very physical inner body experience. These memories remind me how much I love to dance and how grateful I am.

Another amazing memory was dancing Snow Queen in The Nutcracker for Ballet West in 2018. Rex Tilton was my partner, and four days before the performances Rex became a new father to his handsome son, Ajax. It’s crazy to think he got on stage to perform as an exhausted new father! I was so excited he wanted to come back and perform with me and was so excited to perform this dream role. This whole performance felt like an out of body experience. I just remember the fog, lights, and music then Rex lifting me out onto the stage at the beginning of the snow queen pas music. My heart felt like it skipped a beat, and it was as if I went into an imaginary land. As silly as this sounds, I can’t remember what I danced and even thought I blanked out once or twice while dancing, but I had so much joy in my heart during this particular performance. I felt like a queen and with the help of Rex, I felt like a queen the entire show!  There are so many special moments so far in my career. I get a little emotional thinking about it. I can’t wait until I dance again!

What advice would you give to young dancers? 

Be kind to yourself and believe in you. We all have bad performances, but there’s always another opportunity to improve. Most of all, be true to your moral compass and to be present in each moment in life, not just ballet. Learn to love yourself. There will always be challenges worth exploring for the rest of your life. 

What haven’t I asked you that I should have? Or what else would you like to share with our readers? 

What else I would love to share with the readers is that being different and unique is a blessing and gift. No one is like you, or can ever be like you. Once you find that inner love for yourself, life will become easier!

In case you missed it…

This weekend tons of ballet content dropped. If you decided to take a social media break or if you just generally enjoyed your weekend, here are some things you might have missed.

Tomorrow, July 27, NYCB’s Georgina Pazcoguin‘s memoir comes out. Her telling memoir has already been reviewed by the New York Times and Baryshnikov. Personally, we have not read it, but I’m sure it is going to touch on being Asian and New York City Ballet, type casting and everything else she uses her platform for. Click here to order it on Amazon or audio book.

Meanwhile, Principal NYCB Ballerina, Megan Fairchild also announced she has a book coming out in December 7, 2021: The Ballerina Mindset. Also available for pre-order. While I think Penguin thinks it will be a great Holiday gift for young dancers, I think that it comes at an odd time in the season, but great to get a new mindset before audition season.

American Ballet Theatre’s James Whiteside also has Penguin published book coming out: Center Center: A Funny, Sexy, Sad, Almost-Memoir of a Boy in Ballet.

The American Ballet West has a new docuseries out. Ballet West isn’t a stranger to cameras as they were on the WB’s Breaking Pointe. This new series In The Balance: Ballet Lost for a Year is a nine-episode series following the company. Click here to watch. Meanwhile, Ballet West has their first non-Asian Dancers of color Principal Dancers. Our September Issue Cover Model Katlyn Addison and Hadriel Diniz. Read the full article here.

Harry Garside is at the Olympics representing Australia for boxing and largely credits ballet to his journey to Tokyo. (Read the full article here)

The Royal Ballet has a stellar premier that has everyone raving about the mixed The performance titled: Review of the 21st Century Choreographers of the Royal Ballet included Christopher Wheeldon’s The Golden Hour, Kyle Abraham’s Optional Family: A Divertissement, and The Statement by Crystal Pite. This is just behind the mixed program Beauty that also had amazing reviews, and it was beautiful to watch. If you missed the streaming, you can view it online here till August 8. (It does cost, but worth it)

On America’s Got Talent, The Hiplets Advance. If you don’t know who they are. The Hiplets are ballerinas of diverse backgrounds from the Chicago Multicultural Dance Center under Homer Bryant, the inventor of hiplet.

On gross disgusting news….

-Jonathan Barton was arrested following an investigation into Ballet West (not the American One, the Scottish one), a residential dance school in Taynuilt, Argyll and Bute. He is being charged with 16 sexual offenses including 4 rape charges. (click here for the full article). This is three weeks behind the assult incident at Master Ballet Academy. (Click here for the full article). These incidents are followed behind the publicized convictions of former ENB Principal Yat-Sen Chang’s (CNN) in May, and May’s accusations and arrest of Servy Gallardo from St Petersburg Ballet Conservatory (Tampa Bay Times).

Getting to know Garrett Smith

The Choreographer Creating Not So Tiny Waves Worldwide

Accomplished dancer and freelance choreographer Garrett Smith shares everything from his choreographic journey, to culinary interests, and using Instagram as a business tool. His work is sought after by companies and dancers worldwide and recently crossed over into commercial television with Netflix’s Tiny Pretty Things. This is just the beginning for this creative genius! 


I first had the pleasure of working with Garrett Smith in 2015 when he created Facades at Ballet West. At that time, he was still dancing with The Norwegian National Ballet. Since then, Garrett has fully transitioned to a rapidly flourishing freelance choreographic career. To date, in addition to Facades with Ballet West, he has created works on The Bolshoi Ballet, The Mariinsky Ballet, Les Grands Ballet Canadiens de Montréal, Opéra National de Bordeaux, The Norwegian National Ballet, Houston Ballet, Milwaukee Ballet, Tulsa Ballet, and Pennsylvania Ballet.  His work appearing in the current Netflix series Tiny Pretty Things has now brought him to the forefront of the commercial choreographic scene. 

Ballet Choreographer Garrett Smith Tiny Pretty Things

It was lovely having the recent opportunity to reconnect and chat with Garrett while he visited his family in Utah. Garrett is charmingly handsome, with a delightful sense of humor and incredible eye for beauty. From a competition kid, to internationally recognized choreographer, this is sure to be just the beginning for this creative genius. 

Photo Jenny Dustman Nielson

How did choreographing for Tiny Pretty Things come about? 

Jennifer Nichols, who is the head choreographer, was in charge of scouting out choreographers and she just noticed me on Instagram. She’s located in Toronto, Canada, which is also where it was filmed, and I guess because I was working in Montreal at the time, the hashtags were close to her feed because of the algorithm. Or maybe she was following me? I don’t know, but she really liked what I was doing in Montreal and she contacted me through Instagram. For me, Instagram is a business tool. I’ve gotten a lot of offers through there. My work is in episodes 5 – “Split Sole,”  7 – “Catch and Release,” 8 – “Releve” and 10 – “Push Comes to Shove.”



What was that choreographic process like?

I was in Toronto in October of 2019 for ten days, so it was minimal time. I had to recycle choreography from other creations and kind of fuse some things together. There were some things I created on the spot there, but there was just limited time. 

How did it feel to work on a more commercial mainstream project coming from such a classical ballet background?

I actually have that background growing up in Utah. I was a competition kid before I was a classical artist, so I am well versed with that world. There’s just a different type of mentality and work ethic from the commercial world versus ballet company world. I think that background made me more versatile. I like to have versatility when I create. I love working with big ballet companies on pointe, but I also love working with small contemporary companies in socks. I don’t want to get stuck in one thing, or labeled as “he’s just this.” 

Photo: Maude Sabourin in “Complete” for Les Grands Ballets Canadiens by Sasha Onyshchenko

Would you say opportunities like Tiny Pretty Things are rare for choreographers?

Yeah, it came out of nowhere and I’m really lucky that I got to do it. It was number one worldwide for a week, and now it’s still in the top ten worldwide (at the time of the interview) and doing really well. It’s so cool to be like let’s go watch Netflix, I choreographed that. 

Photo: “Imitation” for Norwegian National Ballet by Jörn Wiesner

The choreographer on Tiny Pretty Things is a bit, hmm lets say, intense? Are there any aspects of that character you relate to in any way? 

Laughs* No. 

Did you have mentors that helped you develop as a choreographer? How do you feel about the importance of access to opportunities for potential choreographers?

I’ve had mentors all throughout my life and I would always ask choreographers and dancers questions. I was always trying to find out information. 

The way I had access was through choreographic workshops. I think every company should have choreographic workshops for their dancers and provide some way for dancers to have time to work and play around in the studio. I got to choreograph in Houston’s summer program, which is where I got to work and be noticed in the beginning, and then it just sort of grew. I got opportunities in the second company based upon pieces I had done in the summer program and then I got into the school, then Houston Ballet II, and they kept letting me choreograph. I applied for the New York Choreographic Institute and I got that as an apprentice. I got to choreograph a piece on Houston Ballet as an apprentice and that got put in the gala. I would just seek out any opportunity. I was always the first person to sign up. 

Photos: Anne Sylvie Bonnet

How has quarantine made you reflect on your life path and career?

There are so many things I’m interested in: architecture, building my own show in Barcelona, and getting a culinary education… opening up a cafe and creating my own menu and having a cute coffee/bakery shop. I would love that. I feel like cooking is still creative. Creating a menu is just like being a choreographer because you create something that the audience gets to digest and experience, just like dance. 

But I love choreographing so much I don’t know if I could actually stop. I’ve had many moments of being worried about how I am going to pay my bills. Sometimes it’s hard as a freelance choreographer because you never know when work is going to come your way. I feel like I’ve really had to push and hunt for work. I have moments of feeling very confident about it and then not. I would love to choreograph for NDT and for more companies in Europe.

What have been some of your most memorable moments as a choreographer? 

Choreographing for The Mariinsky and The Bolshoi was like wow, I cannot believe I’m here at The Bolshoi! That was amazing just because of what it is; just the immensity of that world and how many people are in The Bolshoi, Russia. My piece closed the festival at Bolshoi; it was all these men in tutus, it was really cool. Also at Houston Ballet when I created Reveal in 2015, that was a very special time. I loved that time, and I loved that piece. And creating Forbidden Paths for Bruce Wood Dance, because of the message of what it was: dedicating that to Iranian people. That was really special. I received probably 25,000 followers after that in two weeks, all from Iran. My big following, you could see on my (Instagram) statistics, was from Iran (Tehran) because of all the people who were so happy that I was supporting their struggles in their country. 

Photo 1: Arian Molina Soca Photo 2: Yohan Terraza Photo 3: Alexander Iziliaev

Can you tell us more about that?

I was in Norway creating a piece and I posted a teaser – a very fun, light, comical moment from this piece – and a guy reposted it who was following me from Iran. I didn’t understand what the language was saying in his post, but he was saying, “dance brings joy to people, as you can clearly see in this teaser.” I was like, well, why are you saying that? And he said it’s not legal for men and women, or people, to even touch each other and perform in public in this way. Dance schools don’t really exist there. People are dancing in basements, in secret, in hiding. There were people (in Iran) who made a music video dancing to Will Pharrell’s “Happy” and they all got detained and arrested. It’s just so crazy that that is not even legal. People there are prohibited from performing freely in a way that we take for granted. 

People complain, myself included, that coronavirus has taken away all these things from performing artists. But even when coronavirus is over, people in Iran still won’t have the ability to dance like we do. And because of social media, they see that. I have so many people messaging me asking for help. 

So I decided to dedicate the piece I made for Bruce Wood Dance to them and I used all Persian music. It received a lot of attention from people in Iran. I was supposed to host a workshop for Iranian people in Turkey, because they don’t need a visa to travel to Turkey, but because of coronavirus we couldn’t. 

David King Reflects:

Perhaps the key to Garrett’s creativity is, in fact, derived not only from the versatility of his dance career, but the disciplines and cultural textures of his outside creative interests, as well. I personally easily identify with his desire to cultivate design and culinary arts as a part of his artistic path. It has been the ability to draw on those expressions that has kept me somewhat refreshed and pushing forward throughout quarantine, the pandemic and the subsequent erosions and contortions of ballet and the performing arts. I am anxious to see how he draws on those disciplines and his personal aspirations in his future work to expand his choreographic vocabulary throughout his career. It’s sure to be anything but tiny.

David King on Garrett Smith

Why Dancers Should Be Financially Compensated for Social Media

Every time I am about to start a blog post, the world we live in drastically changes, thus causing me to reevaluate what I post. In the latest post, I was going to be writing about Ballet West returning to the stage but this morning Utah put a limit to no more than 10 on social gatherings. So, I am assuming this is going to affect Ballet West’s return to the stage.

Meanwhile, across the world YAGP has successfully hosted the international heats, while the American heats are up in the air and this overwhelming case of uncertainty gives me anxiety.

Like most schools and companies across the US, this pandemic has ravaged business, destroyed dreams, and plagued students. 

The efforts of mask wearing is exhausting, but in my experience works extremely well. But, not everyone in the dance world wants to follow suit, which is totally fine. Everyone is entitled to run their business how they see fit, this isn’t a political post. 

But for me personally, the pandemic has taken its toll on my soul. The art and world that I love so dearly is crumbling. The uncertainty of ballet companies being able to hire over the next three years is grim. The possibility that every pre-professional school will be flooding their programs for dollars, when it’s time to re-open is very high. And ballet companies seem to not want to reinvent themselves during this time, leaving them institutions of the past.

Dancers have this way of living in the past, reminiscing about “the good days,” and have this inherent love for nostalgia. Remembering the Balanchine Era or the Ballet Russes era, the power houses of that brought down the house of the 80’s, the technicians and tricksters of the 90’s, and the primas of the early 00’s. Each of these times seem to be revisited, talked about, and glorified. But it’s time to move on and look forward if we want to save the art and world we live in.

So, what is next?

Ballet and being relatable. There are dancers of this generation making ballet accessible and relatable- but it seems their employers don’t want to recognize or finance their efforts. In today’s world of Instagram and Social Media influencers, there is an affiliates program. Programs that you make money off of when you are responsible for a lead or sale. While I see these dancers attempting to help their organizations, most aren’t being compensated for it. And yes, it is a team effort to save these organizations that we all love so much, but dancers should be compensated for the work that they are doing. 

Crowdfunding and sourcing is a big part of today’s world, and it would be more effective for ballet companies if companies were more accessible but the reality is that these companies aren’t accessible, the dancers are. 

Then you have influencers who are not affiliated with companies that are doing exceptional things, and they should be compensated as well. There are individual artist platforms like Patreon that help individual artists thrive to create digital media content. But, collectively, being conscious that the world we love so much isn’t progressing because of executive directors, but because individual people, dancers, and influencers keep creating content that is relevant. 

These individuals on Instagram are literally the mouthpiece and physical representation of these organizations. What would ABT or PNB be without their star-studded rosters? And these social media superstars are the driving force behind asking for donations. I see all these dancers advertising their digital seasons, asking for donations, and even seeing the links in their profiles. They should have affiliate links, so companies can track who is bringing in what. It’s not that hard to create individually tracked links. But, if their world is out of touch with how social media works… well they can call me 🙂

Lastly, in this ever-changing world, a thought that has been constantly on my mind is…. Are unions like AGMA and the theatre union helping or hindering ballet?

What are your thoughts?

The September Issue is Here!

The September Issue is here!
Our September Issue here and it is our largest issue ever! Our 20th issue is over 200 pages and the first issue in the history of the Magazine where I did not produce it and I couldn’t be more proud. This issue brings the news that I will be stepping down as Editor-in-Chief and handing over the magazine to Elizabeth Weldon and Ashley Lorraine Baker. The reasoning behind this? I want to make sure that women lead this publication, and that women are being represented in the ballet world as writers, photographers, editors, and are being the voices shaping the conversations in dance. This issue is beyond stunning and I couldn’t have been more proud to see my colleagues (who I am lucky enough to call friends) take control of this issue and produce a beyond stunning issue. We hope you enjoy it! You can read the magazine by subscribing here: www.aballetmagazine.com

Katlyn Addison, Gabrielle Salvatto, Ginabel Peterson, and Jazz Bynum of Ballet West photographed by Joshua Whitehead.

IN THIS ISSUE:

Ginabel Peterson, Jazz Bynum, Katlyn Addison, and Gabrielle Salvatto of Ballet West photographed by Joshua Whitehead.

COVER STORY
WOMEN: THE FUTURE: When the staff of A Ballet Magazine began brainstorming for our September issue,  the immediate thought that came to my mind was to feature these four beautiful women at Ballet West.: Gabrielle Salvatto Katlyn Addison, Jazz Khai Bynum, and Ginabel Peterson. Read an in-depth article and interview by Editor-in-Chief Elizabeth Weldon photographed by Joshua Whitehead. 

Growing Up Black: Lauryn Brown Photographed by Ashley Baker

GROWING UP BLACK
By Lauryn Brown | Photographed by Ashley Baker
When I was younger, kids in my ballet class were awarded stickers for coming to class in the proper uniform with their hair in a neat ballet bun. My mom arranged my thick natural hair into individual braids that were nicely pulled back for class, however, I was the only girl who did not get a sticker for being in the proper uniform. I was always told my hair was not right for class. Read more of Lauryn’s personal essay.

DO THEY SEE US?
By Ashley Baker
Creating quality ballet choreography can come from anyone and anywhere. Ballet seems to be lacking in finding, or better yet, uncovering black women who choreograph ballet. Where are all the black female choreographers? Amy Hall Garner and Claudia Schreier unpack being choreographers, being black, and being women. 

THE VIOLENCE OF WHITE SILENCE
By Elizabeth Weldon
In the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd, and the surge of Black Lives Matter protests worldwide, ballet dancers of color have taken to their social media accounts as a platform to express disappointment in their employers. One of the first of these dancers was George Sanders.

THE POINTE OF PIGMENT
Written and Photographed Ashley Baker
Some of the world’s top pointe shoe companies share in their mission to better represent the community that uses their products. This article features Freed of London, Suffolk, and Gaynor Minden. We had the chance to sit down and talk with the owners of these companies and talk about their contributions in providing pointe shoes of color. 

MASTER TEACHER
By David King
My first introduction to Andrea Long wasn’t in person. And no, it wasn’t because of the Covid-19 pandemic. My first introduction to Andrea Long was in 1993, sitting inside the local cineplex at six years old. Now, I have the privilege of calling this master teacher my friend. Here is a feature on this stunning and talented teacher.

#ABESONESTOWATCH
NEW FEATURE: Each issue A Ballet Education and A Ballet Magazine will be selecting up and coming ballet dancers to be featured in the issue! We are kicking off this feature with six talented young women who are breaking onto the ballet scene with a punch. Featuring Maddison Brown, Adeline Dunlap, Bella Jones, Alexandra Owens, Destiny Wimpye, and Sasha Manuel.   

FALL FASHION: COLOR BLOCKING
Written and Photographed Ashley Baker featuring Mia Patton and styled by Berly Baray

STYLE: HERE’S TO HAIR
Written by Ashley Baker featuring Alexandra Terry

RESILIENCE & REPRESENTATION a profile on KIYON ROSS
Written by Eric Hipolito Jr.

AZ DANCE MED TAKES YOU THROUGH HELPFUL EXERCISES TO  PROMOTE A MOBILE AND SUPPORTED SPINE

RESOURCES: WHEN WILL IT BE WOMEN’S TURN?
Written by Jillian Verzwyvelt artwork by Ashley Baker 

PROFILE: DANCE THEATRE OF HARLEM
STEPHANIE RAE WILLIAMS
Written by Isabella Costantino

PROFILE: PAVIELLE VERSALLES: THE WOMAN BEHIND CONCEPT PAVIELLE

AND MUCH MORE!

Ballet Review: Ballet West’s Swan Lake

By Melanie Durham

Usually seeing a superb rendition of Swan Lake to Tchaikovsky’s beloved score is hard to find and ridiculously long, but Ballet West in Utah did it in three hours with grace and beauty. Overall it was a grand performance and celebrated this monumental classic.

Ballet West Swan Lake Beckanne

Included in this memorable piece was the Prologue in the chamber of Princess Odette, Acts I & II, Act III and Act IV. And thank goodness because the two intermissions definitely added time that made for a long evening. Fortunately, we still got that gorgeous, melodic music from the amazing orchestra (Ballet West Orchestra) that carried us into a land far away. The backgrounds were setting the scenes with daring detail, the costumes were delicate and the dancers performed like they were genuinely happy to be onstage.

Ballet West Melanie Durham

The choreography was reflective of each Act it was portraying, although the walkways that our dear Prince Siegfried (Chase O’Connell) was given seemed rather repetitive and less textured compared to the other characters. For example, the choreographic patterns of many duos and trios made a difference in how the characters were received by the audience. When the Prince would walk to a place then gesture, the purpose in his walk wasn’t as commanding as one would think it should be coming from royalty. The comic relief that The Queen provided was welcome and needed, but the energy from Baron von Rothbart was lacking to portray actual evil or coldness.

The divine roles of Odette/Odile (Beckanne Sisk) in this evening performance were spot on. My eyes were immediately drawn to her feet as they presented themselves with dignity and lightness. My heart sank for her as her balance wasn’t quite there for a penche while trying to hold the Prince’s crossbow, however, once she found her moment, it was beautiful; a true mark of a professional. The character change from white swan to black swan was thrilling to wait for. The eye connection to the audience and smirk as Odile was exactly what we needed.

Applause to all of the younger performers in the cast. What professional faces and acting they portrayed in each moment they had. The technical ability and energy from them brought a rekindling of childhood performances, but to perform on such a beautiful stage such as the Capital Theatre, is quite a sight. The details were not forgotten with them in costuming or in timing of steps. It’s always a treat to watch these budding performers and wonder who the next demi-soloist or principle artist could be in the years to come.

I appreciated the true athleticism of the males in this rendition of Swan Lake, but was disappointed in the lack of precision when it came to epaulement and head angles. The crispness of the down beat compared to the motion during Act I left more to be desired when the men took the stage. Height was achieved and space was commanded fantastically, yet the sharpness of the upper body, including arm lines, could’ve been cleaner. This doesn’t mean the women were supreme in the same, but the softness they portrayed was more of unified focus in comparison. To be frank, the arms need to be so swan-like and so relaxed in Act II and oh so uniformed. The angles and break in some wrists were perfectly elegant in shape, while some forgot to keep their upper arm away from their head ever so slightly more to mimic the shape of the person ahead of them. The beautiful white costumes made it pleasant to watch, but my eye couldn’t help but squint at those lost wrists.

Above all, this Swan Lake satisfied my need to watch Ballet West in action as my local ballet company. It’s a recognized score and costuming, which is sure to appeal to all ages. It’s always an honor to watch a cast of fine dancers, from tiny through veteran, who graciously welcome us into this world of ballet, to ultimately leave us to exit with happiness in our hearts.

www.balletwest.org

A WEEK IN BALLET…

Cover photo: Our cover girl Jillian Davis and her partner Andrew Brader of Complexions dancing in Phoenix Ballet‘s Golden Swan Gala, performing Dwight Rhoden’s Amazing Grace. Photo by Alexandra Rose/ VOGUE IMAGES. (Click here to read more about Jillian Davis)

jillian davis andrew brader complexions

A week in ballet… haven’t done one of these in a while, but I didn’t have much else to say, well I did, but it would probably just create more controversy and would rather not have one of those weeks. Over the past two weeks I have been experiencing crazy things in my personal life including a major car accident (I was a passenger in a Lyft), coming home to Charleston, the ups and downs of dating and the struggles of finding inspiration for A Ballet Education. I did find inspiration in moss, so I created the April Tracker, now available for purchase.

APRIL 2018

So, what has been going on in Ballet?

St. PETERSBURGADC IBC in St. Petersburg Florida has started. Some say, this is a good warm up for what is going to happen at the YAGP finals in New York City. But the reality, this competition garners a lot more credit than people give it. The competition itself is outline in a previous issue by Wesliegh Dichter. (Click here to read). To get the gist, you aren’t judged just on performance, but you are judged on class, compulsory classical and contemporary variations, and performance. Then all of the scores are averaged together to present the winners. Don’t forget to watch their live stream!

SAN FRANCISCO- San Francisco Ballet has announced their new promotions for the upcoming season… All three are men. Wei Wang has been promoted to Principal, and Ben Fremantle and Lonnie Weeks have both been pulled from the corps to be soloists.

SALT LAKE CITY- Ballet West has announced their 18/19 season with their strongest PR campaign ever. If you didn’t catch it in Issue 10… The season will include Jewels, Swan Lake, Onegin and Beauty and the Beast for their second company and school.

ballet west a ballet education

SEATTLE– Today Pacific Northwest Ballet wrapped up Director’s Choice in Seattle and the 2018-2019 Season looks like it is going to be spectacular. They open their season with Jerome Robbins Festival followed by all new works. The Sleeping Beauty, Director’s Choice, Midsummer Night’s Dream and Themes ad Variations will all be mounted… They also have branded each program pretty great.

LONDONThe Royal Ballet is to stage an all female production by Aleta Collins. This is a big deal as it wasn’t until 2017 that a female choreographer has been invited to create work for the Royal Ballet. Since 1999. This is one of many new PR stunts Royal Ballet is doing… they have partnered with Erdem for Chris Wheeldon’s Corybantic Games.

SOUTH BRISBANE, QUEENSLAND The Queensland Ballet is going to be getting a major do-over/ make over. News of their new state supported 10 million dollar expansion plan is going underway. Their new building is going t one a state-of-the-art ballet center designed by Conrad Gargett. Queensland Ballet is in the middle of their production of La Bayadere, which is developed quite well, with better storytelling during the colonization of India. It was done by Greg Horsman. (They just need better costumes… though I do like their shades… It is done in crop tops to look more authentic.)

BOSTONBoston Ballet has announced three exciting tours starting in June 2018 at Lincoln Center with the New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglwood in August, and for the first time, Boston Ballet will be going to Paris to perform at the iconic Theatre des Champs-Elysees in April 2019. They will be taking a contemporary bill including Forsythes Pas/Parts 2018, a world premiere, and Jiri Kylian’s Wings of Wax.

Is ballet getting too good too fast?

the baby ballerina

It is no secret that between physics, anatomy, and kinesiology, that ballet technique has literally been perfected to a science. Now, dancers are pushing their bodies even harder, pushing it to the limits to achieve something new, something unseen and something exciting. Dancers are training as hard as ever, and training smarter than any other previous generation. The access and exposure to resources young dancers have now is insane. Ten-year-olds are now becoming insane technicians all before their bodies change. Thirteen-year-olds are now pushing technique and artistry. Sixteen-year-olds are looking like prime dancers, and eighteen-year-olds are killing themselves in the corps de ballet.


Elisabeth Beyer, Satanella Variation, YAGP 2017 FINAL ROUND, winner of the Natalia Makarova Award, and winner of the Moscow Ballet Competition.

As the years have unfolded, dance has progressed at such a fast rate, a rate that I don’t think anyone saw coming. The finesse, the artistry, the acting, and the tricks are all combined to create these mega-monster dancers. These dancers right now are all between the ages of ten and sixteen and are kicking butt. They are dominating the competition circuit, they are dancing every genre of dance, and they are already making appearances at international galas. They are showing the finesse of technique, budding artistry, and emotion depth that has been in the lack for a long time now.

Are students peaking too early? In recent conversations with colleagues across America, there are two problems that are facing young dancers today. The first question asked is, “Are students peaking too early?” and the second question, “Is the job market able to accommodate these dancers?” As dance has always been for the young, it seems that we are now facing the dilemma of bringing back the infamous baby ballerina or watching some of the world’s best talent sit in the corps.

So, if a student like this doesn’t burn out, if they don’t get injured (and they shouldn’t unless a horrible accident), what do they do? Do they audition at fifteen, get into a trainee program, join the second company at sixteen for two years, and then join as an apprentice at eighteen, and they get their corps contract. They sit in the corps for three to five years until a soloist spot opens up, and become a principal in a few years after that? If that is the case and a dancer peaks at sixteen, that usually means, that their prime years will be done before they are even a principal. A dancer’s body usually has somewhere between ten to twelve years of prime dancing from the time they peak. Back in the day, dancers would peak somewhere around twenty-one. When their bodies curate technique as second nature, artistry and freedom of expression click, and their dancing intensifies. So from the time they peak, if they get ten years… This new generation of dancers will have their prime years between sixteen and twenty-eight.

Comments have been made, that there are some young dancers in top companies in the corps de ballet who are technically better than most soloists out there. The problem is that no company director right now is going to risk giving such a young dancer a principal title. Beckanne Sisk pulled it off at Ballet West with careful guidance by Adam Sklute. She managed to become a principal dancer within four years of joining the Utah company. Notably, Lauren Lovette, New York City Ballet, also pulled off a pretty quick rise to the top. She joined City Ballet in 2009 and was a principal by the 2015/2016 season. Jeffrey Cirio rose quickly to the top of Boston Ballet by joining in 2009 and becoming a principal by 2012. He jumped to American Ballet Theatre as a soloist in 2015 and became a principal the following year after his nomination for a Prix de Benois. He then added English National Ballet as a guest principal artist.

This begs the question, what do we do with all of these young superstars? Professional children’s company? Start replacing soloists and corps members with these dancers, and hiring a special teacher/psychologist to help these dancers have healthy lives? It is funny, because Hollywood embraces young talent, and between labor laws and unions exceptional young talent in Hollywood is protected. Should the same apply to dancers? Look at say, Dakota Fanning, Abigail Breslin, Arianna Grande, and Selena Gomez. All of these young women took their art and passion to another level, fueled by desire and hope. In film and music, there was a space for these young dancers to grow. Is ballet ever going to make that change? Could a sixteen-year-old girl pull off the full-length Sleeping Beauty, in the title role as a sixteen-year-old princess? I believe so, I just saw a handful of dancers who are ready to take on this full-length ballet. I don’t think a sixteen-year-old could pull off, say, Swan Lake, but I think they could pull off ballets like Coppelia, La Fille, Grad Ball, Sugar Plum and many others at a major company and pack the house.


Gold medal and Special Award winner at Senior devision Evelina Godunova

So, as ballet constantly evolves day to day, we have to ask ourselves, “What is going to be next? Is the job market ever going to allow for young exceptional talent? Will the older generation of ballet finally give into the progress of ballet?” We all know that most of the problems in ballet, problems like diversity, sexuality, mental health, body type are all being supported and being created by the older generation of directors, ballet masters, and school directors… Soo, when is it all going to change?

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thug life

corps de ballet confessional: Elizabeth Weldon of Ballet West

By reputation, ballerinas are these willowy, elongated creatures that are unobtainable… That could pretty much sums up Elizabeth Weldon, a corps de ballet member at TV’s most popular ballet company, Ballet West.  With feet to die for, ideal body proportions and musicality that rivals most, she tops it off by being humble in her achievements, gracious in performances, intelligent in her choices and wise through experience. Not to mention she is a poster girl for Bloch.

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I first met Liz as a dancer through CPYB and worked together at Panera Bread. I just remember seeing these long legs hidden behind an apron and this great smile under this ugly khaki/olive colored hat. She had joined the school year later on, or maybe she was there since the beginning but I didn’t really know her or know of her until the later part.  LOL. Not sure, but regardless, our time was brief, but if there was one thing I remember, was how smart she was with the choices she made. So, for those who want to go to college, but people tell you, “You might not have a dance career”… Liz did it all…

ballet west elizabeth weldon
So, what is it like to be Elizabeth Weldon? Here we go!

Name: Elizabeth Weldon
Insta: lizaries13
Company: Ballet West
Company Position: Corps (official company position)
Years in the Company: 6
Previous Companies: Orlando Ballet Second Company
Ballet Education: Boston Ballet, CPYB
Age: 32
Height: 5’8

 

What is your favorite type of sandwich?
Probably a breakfast sandwich. Eggs, cheese, and sausage on an asiago or everything bagel.

You are sponsored by Bloch? Or a Bloch model? How does that happen? Especially as a corps de ballet member? (Don’t get me wrong, you are tall and gorgeous, but just so others know what modeling brings about) What pointe shoe do you wear?
This is an interesting story. A couple years ago I started having a lot of pain in my feet and discovered that my shoes no longer fit, my feet had grown. I was trying to find a shoe that fit my foot and contacted Bloch about being fitted for pointe shoes. They had me send pictures of my feet and after seeing the pictures I sent, they asked me if I would be available to come to NYC to do a photoshoot for their spring Mirella line 2015. It was such an incredible experience! I loved working with the Bloch team. I never would have imagined having the chance to do something like that. Everyone at Bloch was so nice and fun to work with. It’s an experience I will never forget.

I’m not sure what to include about my current shoe situation …. I currently wear Capezios. I am very lucky to have the feet I do, however sometimes it feels like a blessing and a curse. The shoes I currently wear don’t fit my feet and it’s been very frustrating because I feel like it’s the greatest obstacle in my career. I’ve been dancing on shoes that don’t fit for three seasons now. It’s very discouraging. ….   (Finding the right shoe is extremely difficult!)

 

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photo by Joshua, Liz in Nicolo Fonte’s Rite of Spring


What is in your dance bag?
Many, many, pointe shoes! Flat shoes, scissors, duct tape, a nail file, foot powder, and foam roller. I also carry a separate bag with snacks 🙂

 

What is your warm up routine, or process to get ready for class or show?
It changes depending on what we are working on or performing. Before class my warm up is very minimal, just simple stretching to loosen up, or exercises to activate certain muscles. I try to pay attention to my body and give it whatever it seems to need.

You went the nontraditional route… You went to college first. What was that like? Help or hinder?
The answer to this question is a little complex. I think in the big picture of life going to college first helped, but perhaps not for my dance career. However, I loved my experience at college. I made wonderful friends who are still in my life today. I loved learning, and having the chance to figure out who I was as an individual. It also helped me realize how much I love ballet and how much I missed having it in my life. After graduation was when I began to really pursue ballet as a career.

What do you want out of your dancing?
I recently saw a video of David Bowie and he said something that really resonated with me. “Always remember that the reason you initially started working was that there was something inside yourself that you felt that if you could manifest it in some way, you would understand more about yourself and how you coexist with the rest of society.’

Dream role?
I want to do it all! Haha just kidding 🙂 I would love to dance the pas de deux from Wheeldon’s After the Rain. Kylian’s Petite mort is another dream ballet.

What is it like being categorized as a tall dancer?
Oddly enough at Ballet West I’m in the middle height range for the girls. I’ve become accustomed to dancing among so many tall people at BW that I don’t think of myself as tall. We have girls who are over 6’ on pointe and men up to 6’7 tall so comparatively speaking, I’m not very tall.

Was Ballet West your dream company? How did you get your contract?
It’s a little strange to say, but when I started auditioning for companies I just had a feeling I was meant to be at Ballet West. I did the open audition in NYC and eventually ended up at Ballet West on an 11-week supplemental contract. They needed extra girls for Swan Lake and a Balanchine program. I was so happy to be dancing with such an amazing company and thankfully at the end of my supplemental contract they asked me to come back for a full season. This is now my sixth full season with Ballet West.

Who are some professional dancers you admire?
I honestly have admiration for anyone in this career. It’s very difficult and we all have our own unique stories. No dancer has it easy. We do what we love, but there are definitely sacrifices we have to make. Like anyone in the arts, we aren’t compensated nearly enough for all the hard work. We move to whatever part of world we can find a job, and give up holidays with our families. It’s a very difficult career physically and psychologically. However I think we all realize how unique our careers are, and how special it is to be a part of the ballet world. It’s an honor to be part of a traditional art form that’s so much bigger than yourself.

 

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Favorite place to go relax and decompress from ballet world?
I spend most of my free time at home in my apartment on my couch with my pug, Mogli. He’s my best bud.

 

Favorite book?
Moon Palace by Paul Auster. He’s my favorite author. I love all his books.

If you could go back to you 16-year-old self, what would you tell her? What would you do differently?
I don’t think I would do anything differently because then I wouldn’t be who I am today. Though I wish some things had perhaps been different, I value the experiences and life lessons I had to face along the way. There are things I have learned in my 30s that I don’t think my 16-year-old self would understand. Sometimes we need to learn through experience and all those lessons happen in the right timing in our life.  At least that’s what I believe.

What were some of the “negative” things you were told as a student? How did it affect you?
I think as a dancer it is inevitable you will hear negative things and it’s up to you to determine how you let it affect you. I remember being told I was too uncoordinated to be a dancer. I was told by a very well-respected physical therapist that my body wouldn’t be able to handle a career in dance – that I would always be injured. I was told that if I didn’t train for a career when I was young that I would never make it as a professional. I believe that you are the only person who can determine your limits. It’s your choice whether you’re a victim of circumstances or if you chose to make your own rules and live life on your own terms.

What is the biggest advice you can give aspiring dancers?
Follow your passion and do what feels right for you. Your life is your greatest gift and you can write whatever story you want. Always treat yourself with love and respect. Take care of your body and your mental health. Sometimes things don’t turn out the way you want, but very often our biggest challenges are also our greatest opportunities for growth.


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5 Ballet Techniques that make me melt

In today’s world of dance we applaud ridiculous extension, turns that never end, and jumps that defy gravity. Or, we celebrate mediocrity. Either way, it doesn’t do it for me. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some musicality, and artistic achievement but… I’m like a lover of technique. So, as much as I appreciate and glorify dancers of the past… It doesn’t really do much for me either. I recently was watching some video of Maria Tallchief in Allegro Brilliante and I was like -_____-.  Like randomly placed passes, and some questionable releves from male dancers of the past… that doesn’t really do anything for me.

So, in today’s world of ridiculousness technique… There are five techniques that if done well, make me melt… Like I get all warm inside, and if it is on youtube I rewind it and watch it again… SOOO, what are they?

1. The technically crisp soutenu.

2. A two butts up glissade.

3. A super generous, and resistant pas de cheval.

4. A Balanchine saute arabesque, jete combo.

5. When a dancer bevels or wings their supporting foot right before they come down from releve, or when they place themselves on the wing of pointe shoe for a balance.

Intro to Summer Programs

The Guide to Summer Programs:

While Christmas is finally here, and Nutcracker is finally over… We now look at the bigger picture, and the next part of the season: SUMMER PROGRAMS!! With auditions literally starting next week, the stress is on. SO, here are some of the truths about summer programs:

  1. Summer programs are not a vacation.  While it might be fun to travel all over the US, the reality is that summer programs are designed for three purposes.
    1. The first is to get the maximum amount of training in while you aren’t in school. So, if you are looking at summer programs as a chance to catch up on technique, then audition away. Dancers drastically change at summer programs for the good and the bad.
    2. The second reason ballet companies host summer programs is to look at the work ethic of potential year round students. For those who are killing themselves dreaming of San Francisco Ballet, your best bet is to go there for the summer. Hopefully, you are around 14-16 with awesome technique. This way you can get asked to stay for the year, and hopefully make it into their trainee program.
    3. Finally, the third reasons companies host summer programs is because it is a huge money maker. If you don’t know the costs of a summer program, check out this post. Summer programs are a way to overflow a school, and make money. It isn’t a hidden fact that ballet companies aren’t doing well, so Summer Programs are a way to generate income to the school/company during the off season (January) and then again in the Summer months.
  1. Names don’t mean anything. While many prestigious schools boast awesome summer programs, it doesn’t mean it is the best training for you. You have to find the school that is right for you, and where you are at in your training. For example, you should not audition for SAB until you are completely sure you are as strong as you can be, technically. SAB is a finishing school, not a training school. If you are behind on your technique, CPYB is the best place to go and get your butt whooped for a month. If you are looking to broaden your horizons in ballet, LINES would be a great add to your resume. And for those of you who are looking for individual attention, go to a smaller program like Ballet West or Atlanta Ballet’s Summer Programs. If you are looking to work on turns, go to the Rock School for Education, and if you are looking to jump go to PNB.
  2. Have back up plans. Like any child applying for colleges, you have to have a plan. Everyone has their dream programs, but then pick others that you know you are going to get into, schools you might get a scholarship to, and schools that are affordable. Have options, because a lot of kids will hit two summer programs in a summer.
  3. How do you know you are ready for a summer program? You have to be mentally prepared because at a summer program the competition in the classroom is stiff. Everyone there is pushing for a year round spot and scholarship for the year. You will be hundreds or thousands of miles away from home, living in dorms, with a hundred other ballet dancers. While you make lifelong friendships, the reality is, they are also your competition. It is easy to become friends, but it is easier to become jealous and get inside your own head, sabotaging your chances of staying for the year. If you are at a smaller school, and you are the best one at your studio, this would be a great growing opportunity.
  4. Finally, use summer programs to see if this is what you really want to do with your life. Summer programs are a great stepping stone to see whether or not you want to pursue ballet professionally. While it is rare for a dancer not to go to a summer program, a summer program is usually required as a bridge between professional schooling and a home studio. Another small step towards dancing Odette in Swan Lake.

You can go to any company’s website or school website to see if they are doing a national tour. The dates are already published. Audition fees will apply. If you don’t have the money, you can call the school registrar and possibly have the fee waived.