In The Wings: Alison Stroming
Alison Stroming’s teachers invariably describe her as “modest”—while recounting accomplishments that give her every reason to have an ego. Shrinking violets aren’t cast, as Stroming was last April, as one of the three shades in the “Kingdom of the Shades” excerpt from La Bayadère in JKO’s spring performance. The choreography demands such a command of line, phrasing, technique and musicality that the main company regularly assigns soloists to these roles. If her variation presented any difficulty, 16-year-old Stroming concealed it like a pro, dancing with a lyrical ease that seemed blissfully free of effort.
Born in Recife, Brazil, Stroming was adopted when she was eight months old by a family in New Jersey, and grew up with two brothers and two sisters who all took classes in jazz, tap, modern and ballet. “I started dance when I was 2,” she says. “I still study jazz with my brother Gil”—creator and choreographer of “Break the Floor” and “Jump Dance Conventions”—“because I like to have options. I enjoy photo shoots and runway modeling, too.”
Stroming flourishes under the hands-on approach the school stresses. Franco De Vita, JKO principal, explains, “We limit our enrollment to 69 so students receive individual attention.” The present faculty includes such former ABT ballerinas as Susan Jaffe, Martine van Hamel and Lupe Serrano. “We insist that all students focus on doing what the teacher wants and on arriving on time,” De Vita continues. “We have a strict dress code as well.”
Faculty member Raymond Lukens, who co-staged the Bayadère excerpt, has fond memories of working with Stroming: “I was choreographing an industrial for Payless Shoes”—the manufacturer has an endorsement agreement with ABT—“and Alison was observing the process to gain experience. At the last moment, I needed a replacement, and it turned out she knew the part perfectly, despite having never danced it in rehearsal. If she is your cover, you can relax.”
Stroming knows she still has a lot to work on. “Pirouettes present no problem,” she says. “But now I’m
concentrating on épaulement and relaxing my shoulders.” Relaxation of any kind is a luxury during the week. She attends the Professional Performing Arts School from 8:15 am to 1:15 pm, then subways downtown to JKO for two hours of technique beginning at 2:30 pm. Classes in pas de deux, modern, character or variations may follow, and a rehearsal is often included.
Has she time for a personal life? “My mom allows sleepovers,” she says. “I’ve been reading the Twilight series.” Asked if she has a boyfriend, she says, “I did,” with an unblinking eye contact that says, “The subject is closed.” A prima ballerina could not have done it better.
American Ballet Theatre’s Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School
Enrollment: 69 students. Students range from 9 to 18. A new children’s division was added this year for ages 5 to 12. Hopefuls can audition in person from September through May. Videos can be sent at any time to: American Ballet Theatre, Attention: Rebecca Schwartz, 890 Broadway, Floor 3, New York, NY 10003.
Principal: Franco De Vita
Faculty: Olga Dvorovenko, Susan Jaffe, Martine Van Hamel, Jessica Lang, Raymond Lukens, Clarice Marshall and Lupe Serrano.
Classes: technique, pointe, pas de deux, modern, character, variations, Pilates and a wellness lecture series which covers nutrition, stress management and resumé writing.
Alumni: ABT, Pennsylvania Ballet, Miami City Ballet, Houston Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, Morphoses/The Wheeldon Company and BalletMet Columbus, among others