Ballet Stars

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

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

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."

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.

We put together a few of the most important things for dancers to look for in a summer or year-round training program, with the help of the experts at Colorado Ballet Academy:

Keep reading... Show less
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."

We caught up with Golz just before her debut to see how she prepared for her big break.

Keep reading... Show less
Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy US Prix de Ballet

The US Prix de Ballet is taking an unconventional approach to the ballet competition—by putting the competitors' health first. After a successful first year in 2018, the Prix is returning to San Diego, CA this February with an even more comprehensive lineup of wellness workshops and master classes, in addition, of course, to the high-level competition.

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."

Keep reading... Show less