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."

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How Can I Stay Motivated While Training at Home?

Ethan Ahuero was having a good year: he was in his first season dancing with Kansas City Ballet II and had been presented with the opportunity to choreograph on the second company. "The day before we shut down I had a rehearsal, and I was so happy," Ahuero says. "The piece was coming together and this was the first time I felt really proud of my creative process."

Suddenly, the coronavirus pandemic brought everything to a halt. With the company's season cut short and the studios closed, Ahuero found himself attempting to continue dancing from home, with his choreography project put on hold. Like many other dancers around the world, Ahuero is dealing with disappointment while struggling to stay motivated.

Keeping up with daily ballet classes may feel difficult right now; inspiration can seem hard to come by when you're following along on Zoom and short on space at home. Below are a few simple tips for finding new ways to stay motivated.

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THE GINGERB3ARDMEN, Courtesy Complexions Contemporary Ballet

How Jillian Davis Created Her Own Path to Complexions and Learned to Believe in Herself

It's impossible to miss Complexions Contemporary Ballet's Jillian Davis onstage. Tall and glamorous, her commanding stage presence, luxurious movement quality and intuitive musicality have made her one of the company's standout stars. But her road to Complexions was anything but linear. The 6'2" dancer worked tirelessly over several years to find her place in the dance world, ultimately reinventing herself and creating her own path to success. At a time when many early career dancers may be facing uncertainty, her story shows the power of resiliency.

Davis grew up on a dairy farm in Kutzstown, Pennsylvania, where she studied dance at a local studio and in the Philadelphia area, and took private lessons at home. She also started growing, shooting up seven inches over one summer. At 13, she and her family decided to take her daily training up a notch, commuting 100 miles each way to the Princeton Dance & Theater Studio, where she studied under Risa Kaplowitz and Susan Jaffe. By then she was already 5'7", and she soon realized—especially as she started learning how to partner—that her height might be an issue if she wanted to dance ballet professionally.

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Tulsa Ballet in Ma Cong's Tchaikovsky: The Man Behind the Music. Kate Luber Photography, Courtesy Tulsa Ballet.

Updated: Mark Your Calendars for These Online Ballet Performances

Updated on 5/21/2020

Since COVID-19 has forced ballet companies around the world to cancel performances—and even the remainder of their seasons—many are keeping their audiences engaged by streaming or posting pre-recorded performances onto their websites or social media channels. To help keep you inspired during these challenging times, we've put together a list of upcoming streaming events and digital performances.

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