When Boston Ballet resident choreographer Jorma Elo selected Corina Gill to perform alongside three of the company’s best-known dancers—Kathleen Breen Combes, Whitney Jensen and Lia Cirio—in his 2012 premiere Sharper Side of Dark, she did not shy away from the challenge. Within Elo’s dark, intriguingly beautiful universe, Gill created a magnetism all her own. Whether she was bursting into flight or showing off her pristine lines, what you noticed first were her eyes—deep, with an intense soulfulness that drew you in.

“It was a big moment for Corina, and she deserved every bit of it,” says company ballet master Tony Randazzo. “It’s a new step for a choreographer to work closely with her on a premiere. It shows that she has the maturity to really thrive in that capacity.” But this isn’t the first time that Gill, a Boston Ballet corps member, has proven her ability. Just three years ago, she was a critics’ sweetheart dancing one Balanchine lead after another at Los Angeles Ballet, before making the bold move to join the corps in Boston in 2009.

When Gill was growing up near San Diego, California, her mom would drive her to Black Mountain Dance Centre. There she studied an eclectic mix of ballet styles that included Cecchetti examinations. Early on, she became fascinated by Boston and its ballet company, and in her teens she attended Boston Ballet’s summer intensives.

 Though Gill was determined to have a ballet career, her father insisted that she attend college, so she studied dance at the University of California, Irvine, with David Allan, director of ballet studies. While in college, she performed with San Diego Ballet. After graduation, she danced with Eliot Feld’s Ballet Tech before returning in 2002 to California to get married. She was 21 and wanted to build a career close to her husband, Cory, who worked for a Los Angeles car rental company.

The next few years were difficult. “There were many times when it seemed like a ballet career wasn’t going to work out for me,” she says. First, she joined Ballet Pacifica during a time when the company was frequently changing artistic direction. Two years later, she moved three hours north to join State Street Ballet, which meant frequent long drives back to L.A. to see her husband.

Then, in 2006, everything changed. A friend told her about a new Los Angeles company founded by Thordal Christensen and Colleen Neary. She auditioned and was offered a contract. From its first season, Los Angeles Ballet thrived. And Gill quickly won the spotlight, dancing principal roles in the company’s Balanchine repertoire. “To be trusted to do that was incredible,” she says.

Three years in, she got a call from her former teacher David Allan, telling her that Boston Ballet needed a new dancer immediately. Gill loved her job, but she had never lost her childhood dream of dancing in Boston. “So I got a plane ticket and took class on Wednesday,” she says. “I was dancing with the company on Friday. And I was onstage the following Thursday.”

After the initial rush, she began to doubt herself. “When I first came to Boston, I almost felt like I was starting over, because I got scared all of a sudden,” she says. “I was in my dream company, and I had everything to lose if they ended up being disappointed in me.” Still, she was grateful to finally be dancing full-time and for the opportunity to be the breadwinner while her husband pursued his own dream, attending seminary school in Boston. (The couple are both devout Christians.) Gradually, Gill’s fears receded. 

“Corina has kept improving and adapting and has made a very strong place for herself in the company,” says Randazzo. “There’s an urgency to her approach. She’s not one to wait until the next rehearsal if she can accomplish something in the current one.”

Though her experience in the Boston corps de ballet has been very different from her time as a star of Los Angeles Ballet, Gill is happy. Last year, she danced “Kingdom of the Shades” in La Bayadère—every pinky finger had to be perfect. When the company performed, Gill witnessed the profound effect of their precision. “I tell you, there wasn’t a dry eye on the stage,” she says. “That moment of togetherness and being completely in sync with 23 other girls was the greatest of my career.”


At a Glance

Corina Gill
Schools: Black Mountain Dance Centre in San Diego; UC Irvine (Bachelor of Arts in Dance)
Former Companies: San Diego Ballet, Ballet Tech, Ballet Pacifica, State Street Ballet, Los Angeles Ballet
Favorite Role: The wedding pas de deux in David Allan’s Cinderella
Dream Role: Juliet
Dance Idol: Margot Fonteyn
























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Andrew Peasgood and Constance Devernay in "The Fairy's Kiss." Photo by Andy Ross, courtesy Scottish Ballet.

From now through January 15, Pointe is streaming Scottish Ballet in Sir Kenneth MacMillan's Le Baiser de la Fée (The Fairy's Kiss). This one-act ballet, based on the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale "The Ice Maiden," was choreographed for The Royal Ballet in 1960. For more on the ballet's history and for behind-the-scenes footage, click here.

Synopsis

The Lullaby in the Storm
A mother with her child struggles through the storm. The Fairy with her attendants appears and pursues her. The Fairy separates the mother from her child. Passing villagers find the body of the mother, now dead, and guided by the Fairy, they find the child. The Fairy kisses him on the forehead. The villagers become frightened and taking the child with them, they run away.

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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.

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It's finally the weekend, and we're celebrating the best way we know how—a new ballet video. Juliet Doherty (who trained with San Francisco Ballet and Master Ballet Academy, and is set to star in the dance film, On Pointe), teamed up with Cartoon Network for her latest project.

"Cartoon Network contacted me about their show, Steven Universe, which was coming out with a new vinyl album of the soundtrack of the show," Doherty shared with Pointe. "They told me about one of the show's main characters named, Pearl, who is a strong-willed character but has the grace inspired by a ballerina."

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Run. Dance in a circle. Pretend to be a rabbit. It might sound like a creative movement combo, but don't let that fool you. The role of Peter Rabbit in Sir Frederick Ashton's The Tales of Beatrix Potter requires fierce technique—not to mention the ability to project personality while wearing an animal head and fur suit.


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Photo Courtesy Barry Kerollis.

I was probably about 15 years old when the director of my local dance school, seeing my drive and ambition, asked me to work as a teaching assistant for one of the main ballet instructors. She asked to meet with me to discuss the details of my new job. She explained what my role was in the studio, expectations of me in the position and more. But as we approached the end of my meeting, I wasn't expecting the conversation to take the serious turn that it did.

"Now, Barry, I need you to be very, very careful about how you work with these young girls. Kids are sensitive and, especially considering that you are a man, if you correct them in a way that can be viewed as sexual by either a student or a parent, even if you didn't do anything, you could be jeopardizing your future as a teacher and in this field." The look on my face must have been utter shock; the prospect of losing my job or getting sued over sharing my artform had never crossed my mind. This forever changed my perspective on being a dance educator, and I still find myself overly cautious about the way that I work with my students today.

Unless you've been hiding underneath a holiday blanket, it has become abundantly clear that we are undergoing a massive cultural shift here in the States. It started in the entertainment industry, then shifted to major corporations. Sexual misconduct in the form of harassment and assault that had been swept under the rug for years is bubbling to the surface. Things began to boil quite quickly, and those interested in our performing-arts world were speculating that something was going to be brought up in our tight-knit community, especially considering the hands-on approach that teachers have with students, dancers have with other dancers and artistic staff has while coaching employees. I had to sit on my own hands for over a month, after I was given a heads-up that a major news publication was working on an exposé about Peter Martins and his many alleged abuses (which had been quietly circulating around our dance community for years).

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Your Career
Erica Lall and Shaakir Muhammad in class at American Ballet Theatre's 2013 New York Summer Intensive. Photo by Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy ABT.

This story originally appeared in the December 2013/January 2014 issue of Pointe.

When Pacific Northwest Ballet School student Madison Abeo was accepted into San Francisco Ballet School's summer session on a partial scholarship, she was thrilled. But then she added up the remaining cost for the program and realized she didn't have the funds. “I really wanted to go," she says, “but we just couldn't make the other half of it work."

Ballet training is expensive. For many families, a trip to a dream summer intensive simply isn't in the budget. SFB was $2,500 out of Abeo's reach. But she was determined. At the suggestion of her aunt, Abeo created a Facebook fan page where she asked for opportunities to babysit or perform odd jobs, and included a link to a PayPal account where friends and family could make donations. Two local dancewear businesses, Vala Dancewear and Class Act Tutu, offered to outfit her for fundraising photos, which a photographer took for her Facebook page for free. By June, Abeo had raised enough for tuition—plus plenty of pointe shoes.

Affording your dream intensive isn't as difficult as you might think. There are a surprising number of eager dance supporters out there. Case in point: On Kickstarter, dance projects have the highest success rate of any type of campaign, with dancers receiving over $4 million in donations through the site since it began. You can also apply for need- or merit-based grants and scholarships, either through your summer program or an outside foundation. Most dancers who want it badly enough can make it happen.


Madison Abeo with other Pacific Northwest Ballet School students in the 2013 School Performance of an excerpt from "Serenade," choreography by George Balanchine. Photo by Rex Tranter, Courtesy Abeo.

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In class at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy summer intensive. Photo by Gene Schiavone, Courtesy Russian American Foundation.

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Every summer intensive director has their own list of audition deal-breakers, but there are a handful of universal turnoffs to avoid. "Yes, we want the most talented students, but when talent is paired with a bad attitude or improper etiquette, it gives us pause," Paul says. While certain behaviors may seem minor, they can make all the difference when it comes time for scholarship offers or even acceptance decisions.

DEAL BREAKER #1: Not Presenting Yourself Professionally

An audition is a first impression, and you want to look your best. This begins with researching the specific intensive's audition requirements. "Our audition has a dress code, and we expect dancers to respect that," says Rina Kirshner, director of the Russian American Foundation's Bolshoi Ballet Academy programs. "We want dancers to stand out through hard work and talent, not brightly colored leotards or flowers in their hair."

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