There's a dancer in my class who is phenomenal, but instead of feeling inspired I just feel jealous. It's hurting my dancing, and I hate feeling this way. Help! —Rachel


We've all been there—it's easy to feel jealous of others, especially since ballet is so competitive. But it can chip away at your self-esteem and feed immature behavior. I remember growing very jealous of one of my classmates. She had extensions for days and amazing feet, won full scholarships to all the major summer programs—and was two years younger than me, to boot. When the local paper did a full-page story on her, I shut myself up in my bedroom and burst into tears.

There's an old saying that's always helped me in this situation: "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em." Make an effort to socialize with your classmate to get to know her as a human being, as opposed to a rival. Once you know someone personally, it's easier to gain perspective and grow more supportive of each other. (Besides, I bet your colleague admires qualities in your dancing, too.) When I started offering my classmate rides home after ballet, we gradually opened up to each other. I learned she was not "perfect," but was struggling with a lot of insecurities. My jealousy softened. I stopped seeing her as a threat (and myself as chopped liver) and gained a wonderful new friend.

While it's probably not your gut reaction to want to learn from your competitors, there are advantages to being surrounded by phenomenal dancers. Observe—or simply ask—how she approaches steps you're having trouble with. Take note of her artistic nuances. Rather than feeling defeated in the presence of talented dancers, see this as an opportunity to push yourself to a higher level.

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

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.

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Everything Nutcracker
Pennsylvania Ballet demi-soloist Thays Golz as the Sugar Plum Fairy during a stage rehearsal for George Balanchine's Nutcracker. All photography by Arian Molina Soca.

For many professional ballet dancers, Nutcracker means weeks of performances. That usually translates to multiple casts—and important breakout opportunities for those in the junior ranks. On the afternoon of December 13, Pennsylvania Ballet demi-soloist Thays Golz made her debut as the Sugar Plum Fairy along with her Cavalier, corps member Austin Eylar. For the Brazilian-born dancer, who joined PAB in 2018 after two seasons at Houston Ballet, Sugar Plum marks one of her first principal roles.

"I'm really excited," says Golz. PAB artistic director Angel Corella appointed 12 casts of Sugar Plum Fairies over the run's 29 performances. "When I first found out, I was like, 'Pinch me!' I still can't believe it."

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Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy US Prix de Ballet

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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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