Student Opportunities

Ballet Classes At The Kennedy Center


In its 13th year, the Ballet Class Series at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts allows serious ballet students to take master classes and attend select rehearsals with the companies performing there.  


“It’s such a neat opportunity to learn from the companies that come through the Kennedy Center and see how they work,” says Natalie Varnum, who, after two years in the program, is now a member of Houston Ballet II. “It gave me an idea of what each company is like, and after class I could ask the artistic directors questions, which was especially useful when I started auditioning.” 


This year’s roster includes American Ballet Theatre, Bolshoi Ballet, New York City Ballet and Pennsylvania Ballet. Also, for the first time, the program involves visiting modern dance companies, like Nacho Duato’s Compañía Nacional de Danza, an experience that is sure to enhance a ballet dancer’s range.    


Near the conclusion of the series, students are invited to a class/discussion with legendary ballerina Suzanne Farrell, whose company is produced by the Kennedy Center.   

 
Applications are due by September 18, and the audition is October 10.  For more information, visit www.kennedy-center.org/education/students/ballet/
 —Elizabeth Gorgas

Genée International Ballet Competition




For dancers studying the Royal Academy of Dance technique, attending the Genée International Ballet Competition can be the pinnacle of their training. Started in 1931, the competition is RAD’s flagship event, offering top students the opportunity to work with world-renowned teachers and choreographers for five days before competing in front of a panel of distinguished judges. Past winners include The Royal Ballet’s Leanne Benjamin and American Ballet Theatre’s Stella Abrera.


“I loved how the coaching helped us polish our variations, giving us tips like where to look and how to finish,” says Pacific Northwest Ballet student Nicole Ciapponi, who received a silver medal at last year’s competition, as well as the Sandra Faire & Ivan Fecan Award for Theatricality. “It became not about winning, but about performing. And it gave me more confidence to go on to a professional career and dance alongside company dancers.”


The 2009 Genée International Ballet Competition will take place in Singapore from September 3–12. The competition is open to student dancers ages 15 to 19 who have passed RAD’s Advanced 2 Examination in classical ballet with distinction or have been awarded the Solo Seal. The application deadline is August 3. Find out more at www.geneeballetcompetition.com. —Jennifer Stahl

Win A Scholarship From American Harlequin



Luck is all you need to be the winner of the American Harlequin Corporation’s $5,000 scholarship! “Because of the economic situation, this year we decided to make it 100 percent random instead of teacher-nominated, as we have done in the past,” says Claire Londress, marketing manager for Harlequin.


Any American or Canadian student dancer, age 15 to 21, is eligible. Twenty scholarships will be awarded, starting at $500 with a grand prize of $5,000.

Amanda Nazario, 17, won the $5,000 prize last year. The Long Island resident, who dances tap, ballet and lyrical, plans to use the money to help pay tuition this September at the University of Rhode Island. “Paying for college will be really hard on my family and me,” she says. “The scholarship is a huge, huge help.”


Interested students can apply online at www.harlequinfloors.com or call 800-642-6440 for an application. The deadline to apply is November 1.
—Amanda Silliker

TIP:How can you get the most out of each technique class?

Class is a chance to improve any weakness. Think about what steps gave you trouble yesterday, what corrections you got, and start figuring out what you need to do to improve.
What gives your movement value is how involved you are in it, not what your teacher thinks of you. Have your own agenda: You’re not just a student in class; you’re creating the artist within you. You have to enter the studio thinking “Here’s my opportunity, I can make things better.”
 —Finis Jhung, master teacher





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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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via YouTube

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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Mr. Jeremy FIsher, from Sir Frederick Ashton's "The Tales of Beatrix Potter."

Animal roles might not typically be what dancers dream of performing…but they're oh-so-fun to watch. You can't help falling under their spell (and perhaps aspiring to dance one someday). Here's a round-up of some of our favorite furry and feathered roles.

Bunny Hop

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.


Four-Legged Interlude

Who do you turn to for halftime entertainment during a quartet of fairy variations? Dancing lizards, mice and a frog of course! This charming quintet of creatures light up the stage in David Bintley's Cinderella.

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Your Career
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).

Keep reading at dance-teacher.com.

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.

Take Your Cause to the (Online) Streets

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

When Complexions Contemporary Ballet's summer intensive program director Meg Paul auditions students for its Detroit intensive, there's one thing that catches her eye for all the wrong reasons. "It's a real pet peeve of mine when a dancer keeps shifting her eyes to me during a phrase," she says. "It tells me that she's not fully invested in the movement, that she's more interested in being watched than in embodying the choreography."

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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