For an art form dominated by women, there sure are very few female in top positions in ballet. Actually, Richmond Ballet is hosting "The Glass Slipper Ceiling" focusing on the rarity of female artistic directors just this morning. Panelists include Ballet Memphis' Dorothy Gunther Pugh, Cincinnati Ballet's Victoria Morgan, Smuin Ballet's Celia Fushille and Richmond's own Stoner Winslett along with special guest Suzanne Farrell. Soon, it looks like we might have one more high-powered woman joining their ranks: The Royal Ballet star Tamara Rojo.

 

Earlier this week, London's The Independent published a feature by Alice Jones about Rojo. In it, Rojo says she's been working towards becoming an artistic director for some time, shadowing National Ballet of Canada's Karen Kain and earning a Master's degree in the performing arts. From what she says, Rojo seems like she would make a fantastic AD: "Ballet has to be not just good, it has to be excellent... When you have...such a big part of your budget guaranteed from the government, I think you do have more of a responsibility to be outrageous and to take risks." Rojo admits she's already eyeing a specific company to take over, but doesn't divulge which one. With a healthy mix of idealism and exacting standards, once she's ready to move on from performing, Rojo might just be the breath of fresh air the ballet world needs.

Ballet Training
Hortense Millet-Maurin (third from left) and her classmates perform August Bournonville's La Conservatoire. Svetlana Loboff, Courtesy POB.

As a little girl, Hortense Millet-Maurin fell in love with the wide spiral staircase that dominates the center of the Paris Opéra Ballet School. Today, as a focused 15-year-old POB student, she and her classmate Vincent Vivet navigate the school's spacious architecture on a daily basis. In a hallway strewn with foam rollers and tennis balls, their faces are laced with concentration as they prepare alongside their peers for afternoon ballet class. Color-coded uniforms reflect Vivet's and Millet-Maurin's third division; with only two advanced divisions remaining, they are increasingly close to realizing their professional aspirations: joining the Paris Opéra Ballet. Pointe spoke with these two young dancers to see what it's like studying inside the world's oldest 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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Ballet Training
Emily Giacalone, modeled by Elizabeth Steele of The School at Steps.

If you're feeling wobbly in adagio or wish you could hold your piqué attitude a bit longer, there are ways to assess and improve your balance. Try these four exercises, recommended by Heather Southwick, Boston Ballet's director of physical therapy.

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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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