A Day with Ethan Stiefel

Stiefel begins his day in Warren Conover’s men’s class. “I always want to lead by example,” he says. “In class, I try to always do the step exactly as given and use full épaulement.” Ahead lies a packed schedule: teaching, coaching, meetings, rehearsals and a host of administrative details. Stiefel’s tweaked the school’s curriculum since he arrived, adding acting, mime and music instruction. Realizing his vision, he says, is “full-time.”

Teaching “Gentlemen 2,” Stiefel observes student Joshua Sains-Corn. “Men need far more flexibility and higher extensions than in the past. I’ve added drills for agility and cardio, which sometimes means going outside and running hills.” He often shares tips, like how to effortlessly promenade the ballerina while walking backwards in a pas de deux, as in Act II of Swan Lake.

Stiefel stays fueled by grabbing a banana and water a couple of times a day. His desk is filled with mementos, a photo of on- and offstage partner Gillian Murphy (a UNCSA grad) and windup toys he’s collected over the years. “I never want students to feel coming to my office is like going to the principal’s.”

After a Swan Lake, Act II, run-through, Stiefel goes over corrections with the swans. Reviewing costumes with wardrobe head Carolyn Fay, Stiefel shares thoughts on the Swan Queen’s costume. “The old-fashioned style headpieces looked to him like earmuffs—his word,” she says. “He wanted them very narrow, so they didn’t detract from the shape of the dancers’ faces.”

Stiefel partners student Samantha Miller to demonstrate Don Quixote, Act III, in pas de deux class. His advice to Kitris: “You must have attitude—figure out what your sizzle’s going to be and keep it alive.”



Latest Posts

Photo by Christian Peacock, modeled by Carmela Mayo

3 Exercises for More Coordinated Pirouettes

Whether you're aiming for effortless pirouettes onstage or trying not to bump into furniture while training at home, we all want sailing, suspended turns. While many components go into a controlled pirouette—a powerful preparation, a balanced relevé, a stable core and well-placed arms—your whole body must be a strong, solid unit to maintain your position against gravitational and centrifugal forces as you turn.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Getty Images

7 Eco-Friendly Choices Dancers Can Make to Green Up Their Lifestyles

Ballet dancers are known for their empathy and willingness to improve, so it is no surprise that many are educating themselves about the environment and incorporating sustainable habits into their lives. "I recently read that there are more microplastics in our oceans than there are stars in our galaxy. That really hit me," says American Ballet Theatre corps member Scout Forsythe, who has been making an effort to be more environmentally conscious.

Although no one can fix the climate crisis on their own, we can make small, everyday changes to help decrease waste, consumption and emissions. Here are some suggestions for dancers looking to do their part in helping our planet.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Left to right: Dance Theatre of Harlem's Daphne Lee, Amanda Smith, Lindsey Donnell and Alexandra Hutchinson in a scene from Dancing Through Harlem. Derek Brockington, Courtesy Dance Theatre of Harlem

Dancers Share Their Key Takeaways After a Year of Dancing on Film

Creating dances specifically for film has become one of the most effective ways that ballet companies have connected with audiences and kept dancers employed during the pandemic. Around the world, dance organizations are finding opportunities through digital seasons, whether conceiving cinematic, site-specific pieces or filming works within a traditional theater. And while there is a consistent sentiment that nothing will ever substitute the thrill of a live show, dancers are embracing this new way of performing.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks