Xiomara Reyes racked up invaluable experience as a principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre. Now, she's sharing that wisdom with students as head of The Washington School of Ballet. Pointe asked Reyes her best advice for dancers as they head back to class in 2017.

Reyes and Jared Nelson in TWB's production of Sleepy Hollow. Photo by Theo Kossenas, Courtesy TWB.

What's your goal for your students right now?

For me, the most important thing is that they get confident enough with their technique so they can move forward and incorporate their artistry.

 

How can dancers do that?

By following the music and trying to hear the differences in it. Like an adagio has a different kind of movement energy than a frappé. All the steps have their own energy.

 

What about students who feel like they're going through the motions at barre?

I was the kind of dancer who loved rehearsal, loved performing, but class was the hard part. So I completely understand. But I found that even when you are tired and burned out, if you are present in the moment and you try to feel the music in your body, it gives you new energy.

 

Reyes with a TWB student. Photo by Jim Lafferty, courtesy Dance Teacher.

Do you have any advice for the more timid dancers who stand at the back of the studio?

This may sound funny, but create a role, a persona that is not scared of being out there. But if you are really uncomfortable pushing your way forward, don't. Sometimes kids think they need to be in front, but when someone is really concentrating and focusing on getting better, the teacher can see them anywhere.

 

Any extra advice you'd offer to dancers going into 2017?

My main thing is whatever you do, enjoy it. Try to learn how to make that show. Sometimes we think, I’m going to smile bigger—that’s not necessarily what I’m talking about. I’m talking about really, truly enjoying something just because you love doing it. If we love dancing, it should show in a natural way. If you don’t feel comfortable with that, go back to the point of why you dance. Why are you spending so much time in the studio with the music and other people around? If you can enjoy that, all the time you are spending will make sense.

 

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