Editor's Note: The Secret of Their Success

Published in the August/September 2011 issue.

Summer is winding down. Soon classes will begin again, and with them the constant effort to refine your technique. Becoming a ballet dancer is a process, one with stumbling blocks and hard-earned progress. Even the most celebrated dancers will tell you that learning never ends: It remains essential to success—even when you succeed.

Some professionals discover that teaching helps them to learn better. We asked top artists like Houston Ballet’s Connor Walsh, Miami City Ballet’s Jennifer Kronenberg and Boston Ballet’s James Whiteside why they make time to give class as well as take it (“Teaching with the Stars,” page 40). Each said that they have discovered it helps them better understand and overcome their own technical hurdles. We also looked at how to hang on to the improvements you made in your summer intensive—and integrate them into your fall efforts (“Never-Ending Summer,” page 37). A few simple steps can make a real difference. And we slipped behind the scenes as ABT II and The Royal Ballet School rehearsed in New York for a joint performance. Enjoy these exclusive photos (and view more online!) in “The Best of Both Worlds,” page 32.

Perhaps the biggest hurdle for a dancer is the shift from serious preprofessional to neophyte pro. A year ago, our cover girl, Adji Cissoko (pictured, in green), went from American Ballet Theatre’s JKO School straight into the corps of National Ballet of Canada, without an apprenticeship or stint in a second company to prepare her. Read about her first year as a professional, and some of the challenges she faces—despite her considerable talent and work ethic—as a dancer who is tall and of African descent.
Cissoko has learned one key to success: “I like to stay open-minded,” she told writer Michael Crabb. That attitude allows a dancer to listen, to grow, to succeed—and to stay with the process.