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
Founded: 2004
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
Website: www.abt.org/education/jko_school.asp






popular
Angela Sterling, Courtesy of Pacific Northwest Ballet

Clear your schedule now for Monday, January 29th, 2:45PM (EST)/ 11:45AM (PST). Pacific Northwest Ballet will be live-streaming rehearsal from Kent Stowell's Swan Lake, straight from their Seattle, WA-based studios. To psych us up for their on stage performances February 2nd - 11th, PNB is letting us in on their Act II rehearsal.

From the corps of swans to Odette and Prince Siegfried's pas de deux, and the infamous four swans, this rehearsal is not to be missed. You can sign up now for a live-stream reminder on their site. In the meantime, we'll be brushing up on our Cygnets with this PNB sneak peek.

popular

Rigorous program, check. Well-rounded technical training, check. Purposeful liberal arts curriculum, check. Study your craft abroad, check! If you are looking for all the above, the Joan Phelps Palladino School of Dance at Dean College truly has it all.

Keep reading... Show less
Summer Study Advice
Thinkstock.

Videos are a great alternative when auditioning in person isn't possible. Here are some general guidelines for making a good impression.

1. Follow directions. Before filming, research what each school you're interested in requires. "It demonstrates your ability to follow instructions, and schools pay attention to that," says Kate Lydon, artistic director of American Ballet Theatre's summer intensives and the ABT Studio Company. "If the guidelines haven't been followed, your video might not be watched the whole way through." You may need to make multiple versions to accommodate different schools.

2. Videos should be no longer than 10 minutes. "Keep it short, simple and direct," advises Philip Neal, dance department chair at The Patel Conservatory and artistic director of Next Generation Ballet. "You have to be sensitive to how much time the director has to sit down and look at it." Barre can be abbreviated, showing only one side per exercise, alternating. Directors will be looking at fundamentals—placement, turnout, leg lines, stability—but don't ignore musicality or movement quality. Make sure music choices match combinations and are correctly synced in the footage.

Keep reading... Show less
Career
Thinkstock

I want to be a professional dancer, but my parents won't listen. They either don't think I can do it (contrary to what my teachers have said) or they won't let me take the necessary steps to become a professional. Please help. —Audrey

Keep reading... Show less
Videos

They say that pigeons mate for life—perhaps that's why these birds naturally symbolize the young lovers in Sir Frederick Ashton's The Two Pigeons. In these two clips from a 1987 performance in Pisa, Alessandra Ferri and Robert LaFosse—then stars with American Ballet Theatre and New York City Ballet, respectively—dance a rapturous pas de deux at the end of Act II. With tiny pricks of her feet and bird-like flaps of her elbows in Part 1, Ferri marks her anguish, thinking she's been abandoned for another woman. Later, both she and LaFosse grow more and more entangled as they reconcile, Ferri dancing with the passionate abandon she's famous for. I love how in Part 2 (0:20), they can't seem to get enough of each other as their necks arch and intertwine. At the end of the ballet, two pigeons fly in to perch symbolically on the chair—er, there's supposed to be two. It looks like one missed its cue at this performance! No matter—Ferri and LaFosse's dancing make it clear that these young lovers are meant to be together for life. Happy #TBT!

Keep reading... Show less
Summer Study Advice
The author at 13, rehearsing at her home studio, Ballet Arts Theater, in Endicott, NY. Courtesy McGuire.

This story originally appeared in the December 2010/January 2011 issue of Pointe.

As a young student at a small ballet school in upstate New York, I was obsessed with getting into the School of American Ballet. From the age of 10, I entered class each day with the ultimate goal of studying at SAB dangling before me like a carrot on a stick. Every effort I made, every extra class I took was for the sole purpose of getting into what I thought was the only ballet school that really mattered.

I auditioned for SAB's summer program for the first time when I was 12. In the weeks that followed, I became a vulture hovering over my family's mail, squawking at my mother if the day's letters were not presented for my inspection when I walked through the door. The day the letter finally arrived, it was thin and limp. I cried for a week as I dealt with the crushing feeling of rejection for one of the first times in my life.

My mind filled with questions and self-doubt. What was wrong with me? Why wasn't I good enough? I figured I must be too fat, too slow, my feet too flat. I had worked so hard. I had wished on every fallen eyelash and dead dandelion in pursuit of my single goal, just to have a three-paragraph form letter conclude that I was a failure. For a while, I let myself wallow in the comfort of my resentment, content to believe that success should have come easily, and that to fall was the same as to fail.

Keep reading... Show less

Sponsored

Videos

Sponsored

mailbox

Get Pointe Magazine in your inbox

Sponsored

Win It!