Ballet Stars

Cuban-Born International Guest Artist Adiarys Almeida Has an Entrepreneurial Streak

Adiarys Almeida in Don Quixote. Courtesy Almeida.

How was training at the Cuban National Ballet School different from what you see in the U.S.?
It was free education, so it was very hard to get in, and there was a cut every year. We had academics alongside art, and we had to take a lot of different things: modern, character, ballroom, choreography composition, history of dance, music, French, makeup—everything you need for this profession.

Why did you defect?
I always wanted to have an international career. But also, I was 19, and I had a boyfriend. We were dating in Cuba when he won the lottery visa to come to the United States. When I was on tour here with the National Ballet he came to see me and I thought, I'm in love! So I stayed with him.

Has the political opening of Cuba affected you?
Before, if you defected, you had to wait five years to go back. That was pretty rough. Things have changed so much. It's about time; we're neighbors! Last year I was able to go back and perform at the Grand Theater in Havana—with my family, my teachers and my friends there.


You danced with Cincinnati Ballet and Boston Ballet before becoming a freelancer. What do you like about freelancing versus company life?
I had a wonderful time in every company. But as a freelancer, I don't have to deal with internal politics. I work with companies and get the best out of it, and then I move on. I just do it for me, for the audience, for the love of the art.

Where do you usually rehearse and take class?
At Magaly Suarez's studio, The Art of Classical Ballet, in Pompano Beach, Florida. She teaches class and coaches our rehearsals. I can't imagine being a freelancer without that opportunity and that support. She's also my partner Taras Domitro's mother, so she's not easy on us!

Why did you start ADIdancewear, your dancewear line?
Dancers are in front of the mirror every day, so it's important to look good and feel good about ourselves. I can provide dancers with that by using the passion that I have for drawing and designing.

Almeida and her partner, Taras Domitro, in "Swan Lake." Photo by Belinda Carhartt R., courtesy of Almeida.

Is there a role that represents you as a dancer?
I identify a lot with Kitri, in Don Quixote. It's just who I am—her energy, and that sense of flirtatiousness.

You once sat next to Fidel Castro at a dinner. What did you talk about?
They used to have cultural events in Havana with different fields of art. I got to go, and a couple of times I ended up at dinner with the artists and politicians. He talked a lot about art and politics, but I was really shy and amazed to be sitting next to the president. I don't think I talked at all!

Do you have advice for dancers who want to start a business?
A lot of us dedicate our lives to this career and wait until it's over to think about what's next. It's better that dancers find out what other passions they have while they're still dancing. Don't be afraid to take that next step. Get yourself ready for the future.

Ballet Training
Kali Kleiman performing at YAGP's New York Finals. VAM Productions, Courtesy YAGP.

As someone who has judged many ballet competitions, I've had the opportunity to see some breathtaking contemporary solos that combine fantastic technique with well-conceived choreography. Yet it's often hard for us judges to see the artistic intention behind these solos the way we can when watching a classical variation. For one thing, we're simply more familiar with classical ballet's repertoire and characters. But also, when a contemporary solo is just a string of one trick after another, or only delivers one emotion (such as overwrought angst), we don't get to see any artistic depth.

Keep reading... Show less
Francisco Estevez, Courtesy Colorado Ballet Academy

When you're looking for a ballet program to take you to the next level, there are a lot of factors to consider. While it's tempting to look for the biggest name that will accept you, the savvy dancer knows that successful training has more to do with the attention and opportunities you'll get.

We put together a few of the most important things for dancers to look for in a summer or year-round training program, with the help of the experts at Colorado Ballet Academy:

Keep reading... Show less
Ballet Stars
Elle Macy in Benjamin Millepied's Appassionata. Angela Sterling, Courtesy PNB.

Cross-training misconceptions: Before Elle Macy became an apprentice with Pacific Northwest Ballet, she was apprehensive about cross-training. "I was warned that it might bulk you, or not to do certain activities because they could potentially injure you." But a stress fracture in her foot changed her perspective. Unable to bear much weight, Macy reluctantly tried stationary biking at her physical therapist's suggestion. "What I learned is that you're not going to get injured from being on an elliptical for 20 minutes or by taking a Pilates class," says Macy. Today, it's not uncommon to find the soloist training on the elliptical, doing ankle stability exercises, using the Pilates reformer or taking a hot yoga class.

Keep reading... Show less
Courtesy School of Pennsylvania Ballet

While many of us are deep in Nutcracker duties, The School of Pennsylvania Ballet director James Payne has been looking further ahead, finalizing preparations for the school's summer intensive programs. In January, he and his staff will embark on a 24-city audition tour to scour the country for the best young dancers, deciding whether or not to offer them a spot—maybe even a scholarship—in the school's rigorous 5-week intensive focused on high-caliber ballet instruction. Though he'll be evaluating aspirants, he urges that as a student, you should be equally selective in choosing programs that could galvanize your training—and possibly even your career.

We got Payne's advice on strategizing your summer intensive plan before the audition cycle kicks in:

Keep reading... Show less