Pointe's first issue, released in Spring 2000

Our Very First Cover Star: Catching Up With April Ball Two Decades Later

When April Ball jetéd onto the very first cover of Pointe, in 2000, she was known as a prodigious young principal with Boston Ballet. Three years later, however, ripples from a regime change in Boston led her first briefly to The Suzanne Farrell Ballet and freelancing, and then across the Atlantic to Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo in Monaco, where she has been ever since. We spoke with Ball about how her career has evolved over 20 years, and what she's learned about herself in the process.


Did your career turn out the way you expected it to?

I have zero regrets in my career, and it's been that way for a while, which is the fantastic part of dancing so long. I have never had too many deadlines or goalposts. I always loved classical ballet, and I got to do a lot of beautiful roles at Boston Ballet, including real classical versions of La Bayadère and Giselle, and the world premiere of Anna-Marie Holmes' Le Corsaire in the States. I really feel like I've had two careers, in a sense, because then I came to Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo, which is neither classical nor contemporary, but a whole other form of neoclassical dance.

Ball onstage in a sheer bodice and skirt leaping with her arms in fifth position, while a man in white pants and a gold jacket chases behind her.

April Ball in Jean-Christophe Maillot's Cendrillon

Alice Blangero, Courtesy Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo

You had a year off between the two, during which you freelanced and performed with The Suzanne Farrell Ballet. What was that experience like?

I discovered freelancing wasn't suited to my personality. I wasn't quite the networker to be able to succeed at it. Some people are marvelously talented at that, but it's really serious work, and I'm sort of the play-myself-down type of person. But Suzanne Farrell started to refresh my love of dance, because I was seeing someone who cared so much for what she was doing and did it with so much integrity. I think at some point I'd lost my belief in the integrity of the art form.

What have been some of the highlights of your 16-year career with Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo so far?

From the start, the company had this feeling of being a haven for artists, and a family. For me, that's essential to make the art that I want to make—it's a very private, delicate process, with a lot of searching. Our director, Jean-Christophe Maillot, doesn't ask for just a nice body onstage to move with the music: When I came, the dancers were very unique, and were required to have personalities onstage.

What would you say is the secret of your longevity as a dancer?

Resilience. Everybody suffers, people tell you "you can't," or give you bad reviews. You hear some hard things about what you look like, how you dance and who you are. I've never allowed criticism to be the end. I will always get back up if you knock me down, somehow. I think balance is key, and being accepting of change.

April Ball in a white dress against a white background, with her hands on her chest.

April Ball in Jean-Christophe Maillot's Cendrillon

Alice Blangero, Courtesy Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo

What do you see yourself doing in the future?

When I was pregnant, I started business school with an American university online. It was a search process for me—I needed to know what I'm capable of. Those courses opened my eyes to what entrepreneurship entails, and now I'm thinking it may not be my path [laughs]. As an entrepreneur, you should be passionate, and what I'm really passionate about is the performing arts, especially dance, so I do want to stay in the field somehow. I'd love to connect choreographers and dancers, help ideas get to the stage.

What are some of the biggest lessons you've learned after more than two decades in the ballet world?

Don't waste your energy on worrying about how good you are. When I was 18, I was spending all my time in these vicious patterns of beating myself up. It's healthy to question, but don't let it become a negative cycle. After having my daughter three years ago, I feel like a better dancer because I don't have time to do that. It's been a wonderful vacation from those voices inside my head.

Latest Posts


Getty Images

What's Ahead for Ballet Companies in the Age of COVID-19?

Let's be frank: No one knows what's ahead for the performing arts in the U.S. With COVID-19 forcing the cancellation of nearly a year of performances so far, including many Nutcrackers, ballet companies face a daunting path ahead with no roadmap for how to survive. While schools can offer classes online or in small groups, what does the future hold for companies when it's not safe to gather large audiences or corps de ballet?

"We are in for a very hard set of months," says Michael M. Kaiser, chairman of the DeVos Institute of Arts Management at the University of Maryland. "Nothing will change until there's a vaccine."

Pointe set out to find out what the new normal looks like while the virus is with us.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Getty Images

7 Tips for Improving Your Piqué Turns, Plus Advice for Practicing at Home

A string of piqué turns en dedans, says Erica Fischbach, director of Colorado Ballet Academy, should appear powerful yet effortless. "The effect you want to create is that you're flying." Here are her tips to achieve this as you whirl through the ends of your variations. Plus, don't miss the video below for Fischbach's advice on how to practice piqué turns while training at home.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
BalletMet costume shop manager Erin Rollins in a costume fitting with Leiland Charles. Jennifer Zmuda, Courtesy BalletMet

A Costume Shop Manager's Expert Advice for Making Your Dancewear Last Longer

What's the best way to extend the life of your favorite leotard or piece of workout wear? Aside from fabric quality, it largely comes down to what you do on laundry day.

We spoke with Erin Rollins, costume shop manager at BalletMet, for her top tips on keeping your beloved dancewear in rotation for years to come. (Spoiler alert: No, washing and drying everything on the same setting isn't advised.)

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks