Courtney Lavine in Marcelo Gomes' AfterEffect. Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy ABT.

2019 Stars of the Corps: American Ballet Theatre's Courtney Lavine

Whether she's dancing within a group or in a featured role, what you first notice about American Ballet Theatre's Courtney Lavine are her long limbs and sweeping upper body. During her debut as Hail in Alexei Ratmansky's The Seasons earlier this spring—her first principal role—she bent generously to and fro as if blown by the winter wind. Her allégro was bouyant and spirited. Afterwards, an audience member whispered aloud what I was thinking: "She's lovely!"


Lavine with Brittany DeGrofft in Swan Lake

Gene Schiavone, Courtesy ABT

Raised in Virginia, Lavine trained with Troy Brown and later at The Washington School of Ballet before heading to the School of American Ballet at age 16. Two years later she was offered a spot in ABT Studio Company, joining the corps in 2010. In a large company like ABT, it can be hard for a corps member to find visibility, but Lavine's charismatic stage presence has always made a strong impression. Last season proved promising; she showed her range in a variety of featured roles, from the Silver Fairy in The Sleeping Beauty to a sassy lead courtesan in Manon. But she enjoys being part of a large ensemble, too. "I love catching each other's eyes and smiling across the stage, especially when a ballet is really tough," says Lavine. Plus, she adds, "whenever you premiere a more featured role, everybody is backstage supporting you. We're like one big family."

Latest Posts


Getty Images

The History of Pointe Shoes: The Landmark Moments That Made Ballet's Signature Shoe What It Is Today

Pointe shoes, with their ability to elevate a dancer both literally and metaphorically to a superhuman realm, are the ultimate symbol of a ballerina's ethereality and hard work. For students, receiving a first pair of pointe shoes is a rite of passage. The shoes carry an almost mystical allure: They're an endless source of lore and ritual, with tips, tricks and stories passed down over generations.

The history of pointe shoes reveals how a delicately darned slipper introduced in the 1820s has transformed into a technical tool that offers dancers the utmost freedom onstage today.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Getty Images

How Coming Back to Ballet After Years Away Has Saved Me During the Pandemic Shutdown

I was 4 years old when I took my first ballet lesson. My mom had dressed me in a pink leotard with matching tights, skirt and slippers. She drove me on a Saturday morning to a ballet academy in downtown Caguas, the town in Puerto Rico where I grew up. I don't remember much from the first lesson, but I do recall the reverence. My teacher Mónica asked the class if someone wanted to volunteer to lead. She was surprised I—the new girl—was the one to raise my hand.

I made up most of the steps, mimicking the ballerinas I had seen on TV and videos. At one point, Mónica stepped in and asked me to lead the class in a bow. I followed her directions and curtseyed in front of the mirror with one leg behind me and a gentle nod. I looked up to find myself in awe of what I had just done.

This was the same feeling I had when, after years away from dance, I finished my first YouTube ballet class at home in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
La'Toya Princess Jackson, Courtesy MoBBallet

Join Memoirs of Blacks in Ballet for Its 2020 Virtual Symposium

Memoirs of Blacks in Ballet, founded in 2015 by writer and activist Theresa Ruth Howard to preserve and promote the stories of Black ballet dancers, is offering three weekends of interactive education and conversation this month through its 2020 Virtual Symposium. The conference, titled "Education, Communication, Restoration," encourages participants to engage in candid discussions concerning racial inequality and social justice in ballet. While it is a space that centers on Blackness, all are welcome. Held August 14, 15, 21, 22 and 28, MoBBallet's second annual symposium will allow dancers to receive mentorship and openly speak about their personal experiences in a safe and empowering environment.

The first event, For Us By Us (FUBU) Town Hall, is a free community discussion on August 14 from 3:30–4:30 pm EDT via Zoom, followed by a forum for ballet leadership. The town hall format encourages active engagement (participants can raise their hands and respond in real time), but the registration invoice also contains a form for submitting questions in advance. The following discussions, forums and presentations include topics like company life as a Black dancer, developing personal activism, issues of equity and colorism in ballet companies, and more. Tickets range from free to $12 for each 60- to 80-minute event.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks