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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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.

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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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Lopez in Circus Polka. Photo by Alexander Iziliaev, Courtesy MCB.

When Miami City Ballet artistic director Lourdes Lopez was a principal dancer at New York City Ballet, she missed her opportunity to honor Jerome Robbins onstage. "Every time there was a celebration for Jerry, I was either injured or had just retired," says Lopez. "I was never able to publicly thank him onstage for all that he taught us and the beauty he left us."

But when Lopez was planning MCB's Jerome Robbins Celebration for the 100th anniversary of the legend's birth, she saw an opportunity. She asked the Robbins Trust to allow her to perform the Ringmaster in Robbins' Circus Polka, a role the choreographer originated himself.

Keep reading at dancemagazine.com.

Summer Study Advice
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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.

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Career
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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

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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!

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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.

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