Colorado Ballet’s Ariel McCarty Shares Her Journey From Summer Study to Company Life

Sponsored by Colorado Ballet Academy
December 16, 2021

The first company Ariel McCarty ever auditioned for was Colorado Ballet. At the time, she was working on rebuilding her strength after an illness, but artistic director Gil Boggs took the time to talk to McCarty personally after the audition. Wanting to help her reach her full potential, he offered her a place at the Colorado Ballet Academy’s summer intensive.

“I fell in love immediately,” says McCarty. The teachers, the programming and the school’s facilities all placed her on track for company life. At the end of the summer, she moved to Denver permanently to join the school and, two years later, the studio company. Now a corps member at Colorado Ballet, she hasn’t looked back since.

McCarty recently caught up with Pointe’s editor in chief, Amy Brandt, to talk about her experience at Colorado Ballet’s summer intensive and her path to company life. Watch the whole event below, or read on for the highlights.

“One of the first things I learned was the love and support from the teachers and staff, and that included dancers from the company,” McCarty says of her time at the summer intensive. The opportunity to learn directly from the artists she could see onstage helped keep McCarty close to professional life, even as she remained a student.

The school’s technical focus also helped. “The technique is very well connected to the company,” she says. “It all feeds into each other and makes sense.” The stepping-stones provided by the summer intensive, the academy program and the studio company all ensured that McCarty felt fully prepared for her first day as a corps member.

McCarty wasn’t chosen for Colorado Ballet’s studio company until her second year at the school, but even as she worked her way through the competitive selection processes, she still felt encouraged by the community around her. “The academy does a great job of making the competition positive,” she says. “It’s more, ‘How can we push each other?’” she says. “You can’t compare yourself to someone else in a way that’s self-deprecating.” Her time at Colorado Ballet’s summer intensive and academy taught her to consider her peers’ talent as opportunities for learning rather than discouragement.

After McCarty’s conversation with Pointe, she took to the studio to share some of her favorite technique tips from her time at Colorado Ballet Academy. Consider these pointers as you head into summer intensive audition season:

–       Always focus on engaging the muscles of your inner thighs during relevés. Staying focused on the energy of this position from the beginning of barre will help with your jumps and balances throughout class.

–       If you’re struggling with sitting in your plié for too long before your turns, try practicing with faster music—McCarty notes that the quicker tempo will force your body to learn how to spring into pirouettes more easily.

–       Make sure your arms travel as quickly as your feet and legs as you move into your pirouette (or your relevé if you’re working on preparations—McCarty practices both!). Keeping your whole body moving at the same speed will help you spin evenly throughout the turn.

Try incorporating these tips into your next ballet class. Then when audition day comes, McCarty emphasizes, remember why you’re there in the first place: “Go into the audition like you’re performing your favorite dance,” she says. “Be proud of how much you’ve put into what you’re doing. Show them your heart. Everything that comes from that will be beautiful.”

If you’re ready to start your path toward a professional career, find more information about auditioning for Colorado Ballet Academy’s summer intensive here.