Artisan at Heart

What’s the most amazing thing you’ve ever seen onstage?
The Stevie Wonder concert a few months ago in Paris! Also, James Thiérrée’s performance piece, Au Revoir Parapluie.

What do you enjoy most about your career as a dancer?
I enjoy having a career that I’m passionate about, to be able to achieve as an artist, to meet talented people, but most of all, to be onstage to tell a story.
 

What do you enjoy least?
Sometimes I get tired of always questioning…and then there is the pain that is a part of daily life.

What qualities do you admire in other dancers?
Musicality, generosity and honesty. I have a profound respect for the dancers who are always in the back row but remain passionate.

What qualities do you dislike?
I don’t like dancers who do tricks. That doesn’t touch me. I also don’t like dancers who don’t respect those who are older than they.

How do you prepare your pointe shoes for performance?
I choose my shoes two days before dancing. I try them a thousand times to be sure, and I question even this!


What were your first impressions of the POB when you were a student?
When I was little, I thought that the Opéra was a museum, and I really didn’t understand what I could do there!

To whom or to what do you attribute your success?
To my willpower, my perseverance and to my partner, POB étoile Manuel Legris.

What do you think you will be doing 20 years from now?
My son will be 20 years old. I will probably be having a serious talk with his girlfriend!

What talent do you have that few people know about?
I create jewelry in my little atelier.

How would you like to be remembered?
I don’t have the desire to please at any price. I dance because I love it and to put myself on the line. I want to discover myself, extend my range as an artist. In the end—it’s selfish!

What is your advice for students wanting to be professional dancers?
Never forget who you are while doing this magnificent profession. Dancers are artisans; it requires enormous amounts of work. You must be interested in other forms of art to enrich and inspire you. Respect your partners and those who work with you. Stay humble because you know there is always someone who can be better than you!

What inspires you?
Music, the human species and very good red wine!

Ballet Stars

For many a bunhead, "The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" is not just a holiday tradition, but a rite of passage. The variation, with its tinkling celesta, bourrées and petit battus, is one that all ballet dancers are familiar with, and getting the opportunity to perform it often represents moving into new realms in your training or career. Such was the case for Soviet ballerina Ekaterina Maximova. In this 1957 clip, the 18-year-old aspirant performed the Sugar Plum variation at a ballet competition, where she represented the Bolshoi Ballet Academy.

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Sponsored by Ballet Arizona
Tzu Chia Huang, Courtesy Ballet Arizona

These days, ballet dancers are asked to do more than they ever have—whether that's tackling versatile rep, taking on intense cross-training regimens or managing everything from their Instagram pages to their summer layoff gigs.

Without proper training, these demands can take a toll on both the mind and the body. But students can start preparing for them early—with the right summer intensive program.

The School of Ballet Arizona's summer intensive takes a well-rounded approach to training—not just focusing on technique and facility but nurturing overall dancer growth. "You cannot make a dancer just by screaming at them like they used to," says master ballet teacher Roberto Muñoz, who guests at the program every summer. "You have to take care of the person as well."

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Getty Images

For any young dancer performing in The Nutcracker, Marie (aka Clara, depending on the production) is a dream role. But Charlotte Nebres, who will be playing Marie in New York City Ballet's Nutcracker this year isn't just bringing her own dream to life—she's also making history.

Charlotte is the first black dancer to ever perform the role of Marie in NYCB's production of George Balanchine's The Nutcracker, which dates all the way back to 1954. Charlotte was, of course, hugely excited to perform the role of Marie, but, according to the New York Times, when her mother told her that she was the first black dancer cast in the role, she said "Wow. That seems a little late."

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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:

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