American Ballet Theatre's Cassandra Trenary seems to have it all—not only is our June/July 2016 cover star a dazzling soloist at ABT, she has a sunny, down-to-earth personality and a life-saving hero for a husband. But her first year in the company had its fair share of disappointments—in fact, she almost left dance altogether to pursue acting.
In May, the National YoungArts Foundation, an organization that provides cash awards and mentorship to aspiring performing artists, brought Trenary (herself a 2011 YoungArts winner) and ABT artist in residence Alexei Ratmansky together for a salon-style discussion. Together they talked about critical turning points in their careers, as well as the challenges of navigating the dance world as a young professional. Below are exclusive excerpts of their interview—we hope their words inspire you as much as they inspire us!
There's still time to enter YoungArts's national arts competition for a chance at cash awards, workshops and more. Click here for information on how to apply.
Photo by Bill Cooper, Courtesy of the Royal Opera House.
Are you a dancer between the ages of 15 and 18, or in high school grades 10–12? Are you interested in receiving scholarships (up to $10,000), working with mentors like Mikhail Baryshnikov and having a chance to be named a U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts? Then the National YoungArts Foundation wants to hear from you. Now through October 13, 2017, the nonprofit organization is accepting applications for students interested in becoming a 2018 YoungArts winner. And just in case you're wondering, past participants include American Ballet Theatre's Sarah Lane, The Royal Ballet's Sarah Lamb and English National Ballet's Precious Adams—so it's a pretty big deal.
It's that time of year again: Applications to become a 2017 YoungArts Winner are now open. Every year, the National YoungArts Foundation offers awards to promising high school-aged artists in the visual, literary, design and performing arts—and those awards come with some seriously exciting opportunities.
Winners have the chance to earn cash prizes and scholarships, work with mentors like Mikhail Baryshnikov and Jacques d'Amboise, and perform at top venues like the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, and the New World Center in Miami. In January, finalists are invited to participate in National YoungArts Week in Miami, seven days of master classes, workshops and performances. You could also be nominated to be a U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts—one of the highest honors a high school senior can receive.
Possibly the best part? Winners join a network of over 20,000 YoungArts alumni, which includes dancers like American Ballet Theatre’s Sarah Lane, Miami City Ballet’s Callie Manning and Complexions Contemporary Ballet’s Desmond Richardson.
To be eligible, you must be between the ages of 15 and 18, or in grades 10–12 (as of December 1, 2016), and you must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
Applications opened this month, and you have until October 14, 2016 to apply. So, what are you waiting for?
What do soloists Sarah Lane, Kelly Myernick and Callie Manning have in common? Before rising through the ranks of American Ballet Theatre, Houston Ballet and Miami City Ballet, respectively, these dancers were finalists at youngARTS Week.
Sponsored by the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts, youngARTS offers more than $500,000 in prizes each year to high school seniors who show exceptional promise, from dancers and actors to photographers and filmmakers. Of the 6,000 to 8,000 annual applicants, up to 150 (including about 20 dancers) are selected as finalists and invited to Miami for an intense, celebratory week of master classes, rehearsals and showcases.
The prospect of a cash prize is, of course, a major part of youngARTS’ appeal. “But what excited me most,” says Sara Michelle Murawski, a 2009 ballet finalist, “was the idea of meeting other artists my age from all fields who are just as passionate about what they do as I am.” Watching the theater finalists perform, Murawski says, inspired her to translate their “fearlessness” into her own dancing. “And I learned from the modern and jazz dancers by observing how they ‘let go,’ how they dance with freedom and abandon.”
YoungARTS Week often leads to further opportunities. Sixty finalists are nominated for Presidential Scholarships; others are invited to Arts Evolution, a week-long residency in New York City; and all have the chance to foster new friendships and professional ties.
June 16 is the early registration deadline for youngARTS 2010, and registration closes on October 1. For details, visit www.nfaa.org/Students. —Siobhan Burke
Corella Ballet Summer Intensive
This August, Corella Ballet artistic directors Angel and Carmen Corella will teach a summer intensive in classical and neoclassical ballet. “It’s an opportunity to work directly with my brother Angel and myself, and to get to know the company,” says Carmen Corella. “And it offers the possibility of being contracted for a future apprenticeship.”
The one- to two-week program at Corella Ballet’s headquarters in Segovia, Spain, runs six days a week from 11:00 am to 5:30 pm. Classes include technique, pointe, jumps for men, repertory and pas de deux. Dancers must be 13 or older, at the intermediate or advanced level. Although spots are limited, students from anywhere in the world are welcome to apply. As Corella explains, “the company is always enriched by the best dancers, no matter what country they are from.” Apply by June 15 at www.angelcorella.com.
—Justine Bayod Espoz
American Ballet Competition
Most competitions are all about those two minutes onstage when you get to show everything you’ve got. But the American Ballet Competition, presented by The Institute for Dance Education Arts, adds an extra educational step: coaching from a master teacher. “It’s the only competition I’ve been to where we get to run the variation onstage and hear feedback from a fresh perspective before performing it,” says Kaitlyn Potts, who took first place in the top division in 2008.
Founded in 2004, ABC offers pre-professional dancers ages 10 to 20 master classes and coaching sessions with international guest artists, as well as the chance to compete for scholarships, traineeships, apprenticeships and professional performance opportunities. Past teachers have included Gilbert Mayer of the Paris Opera Ballet School, Kee-Juan Han of the Washington School of Ballet and Anna-Marie Holmes of Jacob’s Pillow. Directors of schools and companies such as Ballet Austin, Colorado Ballet, Nevada Ballet Theatre and Virginia School of the Arts watch the dancers in class, rehearsal and performance. “It’s a chance for students to get exposure to master teachers and artistic directors in a very nurturing environment,” says Katherine Kersten, director of ABC. With only about 80 to 90 dancers each year, ABC is smaller than many major ballet competitions, such as Youth America Grand Prix, but that means a higher percentage of competitors receive some sort of award or opportunity. “Even students who don’t place high up in the competition have walked away with scholarships or traineeships,” says Potter. See www.americanballetcompetition.com for information on the 2010 competition. —Jennifer Stahl
TIP: How can you turn your summer intensive experience into an offer with the second company?
“It’s all about attitude. Approach everything with eagerness, hunger and enthusiasm. We’re especially looking at how you work on choreography during rehearsals. But we also watch how you behave outside of the studio—show that you’re someone younger dancers can look up to.” —Michael Pink, artistic director of Milwaukee Ballet
Each year, the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts invites the country's most talented high school seniors to Miami for YoungArts Week for master classes, interdisciplinary workshops, performances and more. Out of the 5164 applicants, this year's 148 finalists were just named, and they include ballet students Jaimi Cullen, Cassandra Trenary and Alexandra Koszeghy.
ABT's Sarah Lane, Houston Ballet's Kelly Myernick and Miami City Ballet's Callie Manning each attended YoungArts Week before going pro. All finalists win at least a $1,000 award, and the top awardees receive $10,000. 20 finalists will be named Presidential Scholars in the Arts, and YoungArts Gold and Silver finalists will be invited to another week in New York.
See what Pointe wrote about YoungArts Week here.