Do you have any tips for starting at a new studio? How can I impress the teachers and make friends? —Jaclyn


Being the new dancer is never easy, but hopefully you'll be able to make a quick transition. Friendliness always helps break the ice, so make an effort to introduce yourself to your classmates and teachers. For the first few weeks, be observant in class—your new instructors may teach differently and be more or less strict than what you're used to. Show them that you're focused, apply their corrections and don't be afraid to ask questions after class if you need help understanding a concept.

You may feel shy around your classmates, but try to initiate conversations and ask them questions about themselves before or after class. They're probably curious about you, as well! And keep in mind that if the school has a competitive environment, some dancers may feel a little threatened by the arrival of new talent. I've always found that those feelings lessen as you get to know someone, so have patience—and be yourself. With time, you'll find a new set of dance friends.

Have a question? Send it to Pointe editor and former dancer Amy Brandt at askamy@dancemedia.com.

Larke Johnson in rehearsal. Courtesy The Joffrey Ballet

Marie and Franz have a new guest at their Christmas Eve party this year. Emma Lookatch and Larke Johnson, both dancers in the Adaptive Dance Program at Joffrey Academy of Dance: Official School of The Joffrey Ballet, are alternating in the new role of Worker Girl. It is a permanent part created specifically for students with disabilities in Christopher Wheeldon's version of The Nutcracker at The Joffrey Ballet.

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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:

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Ballet Austin Academy students practice priouette en dehors. Annie Marie Bloodgood, Courtesy Ballet Austin.

Michelle Martin, associate artistic director of Ballet Austin, says that pirouettes en dehors from fourth position allongé are full of "traps" for dancers. Whether you trained with a straight back leg or have never tried it before, Martin's analytical breakdown will help you master this basic but dazzling turn.

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Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy US Prix de Ballet

The US Prix de Ballet is taking an unconventional approach to the ballet competition—by putting the competitors' health first. After a successful first year in 2018, the Prix is returning to San Diego, CA this February with an even more comprehensive lineup of wellness workshops and master classes, in addition, of course, to the high-level competition.

Though the talent is top-notch, the environment is friendly, says HARID Conservatory faculty member Victoria Schneider, who serves on US Prix de Ballet's elite panel of judges. "The wellbeing of the dancer is the main focus," says Schneider, who awarded three scholarships to HARID at last year's competition.

US Prix de Ballet was born after its founders traveled to the Japan Grand Prix International Ballet Competition in 2016. "The company ran every aspect of the competition with professionalism, dignity, honor and precision," says founder Neisha Hernandez. "We knew we wanted this level of experience for America."

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