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!

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…

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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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