Your Training: Trying Choreography on for Size

As the dancers took their places, Justine Essis Gildea, 17, had an intense case of the jitters. But she wasn’t onstage. The Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet student was watching the debut of her ballet, Mishima, part of the 2012 FirstSteps CPYB Student Choreographic Workshop. “I was more nervous than I’d ever been as a dancer,”More »

Your Training: On-Campus Companies

During her first semester with Columbia Ballet Collaborative, Rachel Silvern surprised herself. “Growing up, the focus was always on dancing to please others, to get cast in something,” she says. “But at Columbia, suddenly it wasn’t about who was watching or what they thought. I was dancing for myself—and rediscovering why I danced in theMore »

Your Training: The Coach Question

Patricia Zhou remembers hearing her coach’s encouraging voice in her head as she competed at the Beijing International Ballet Invitational in 2010. Now in the corps of Staatsballett Berlin, Zhou says the days Viktor Kabaniaev spent coaching her ranked among the most productive of her training. “He made me practice my entrelacé diagonal over andMore »

Your Training: Is Summer Stressing You Out?

The summer I turned 16, my head swirled with “what ifs” as I counted down the days until the start of the Chautauqua intensive. I’d attended the program four years earlier, and the experience had been a harrowing one—my first lesson in the competitive nature of ballet. Leaving the temperate waters of my little pond,More »

Your Training: Can You Learn Stage Presence?

To watch Irina Kolpakova coach Swan Lake is to witness a true artist at work. Although long retired from the stage, the American Ballet Theatre ballet mistress still possesses a commanding presence and an instinctive artistic spirit. “Don’t think about your shape when you first see Siegfried,” she tells soloist Isabella Boylston during rehearsal forMore »

Your Training: Summer Study Sleuth

At first glance, all summer intensives seem similar: days full of dancing. Yet the opportunities actually vary widely. The right teacher could plug you in to key directors. A prime performance opportunity could lead to a traineeship or even a company position. But how do you figure out which programs will really deliver? A fewMore »

Your Training: Conquering Favoritism

The stakes couldn’t have been higher when Janessa Touchet joined Pacific Northwest Ballet School. It was her final year of training, and she’d moved 2,700 miles out of her comfort zone for an opportunity that, if all went well, could launch her career. But the experience soon turned sour. In a class full of outstandingMore »

Your Training: Leotard, Tights, Cap & Gown

The schedule at most summer intensive auditions is simple: Show up early, get a number, warm up, take a class and do your best. Merde!But trying out for a conservatory or Bachelor of Fine Arts program is a different ball game: Ballet class is only the first step of many. Aspen Santa Fe Ballet dancerMore »