Ballet Stars

Four Professional Dancers Reveal Their Funniest Recital Memories

Amy Herchenroether in Giselle with Saint Louis Ballet. Kelly Pratt, Courtesy Saint Louis Ballet.

It's that time of year again: recital season! Memories will be made, including some hilarious ones. (Does it even count as a recital if something funny doesn't happen?) We asked four pros to share their most humorous recital memories from their student days, from costume malfunctions to onstage bloopers.


Lauren Post, American Ballet Theatre

Lauren Post in Giselle. Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy ABT.

At my very first recital when I was 4 or 5, I boycotted the entire dance. I didn't do the choreography. Instead, I went around the stage picking up sequins and sparkles that I found on the floor. I think I was just intrigued by all the glittery objects. My teacher was onstage during the entire dance and she kept trying to corral me, but I just kept bringing her the sparkly things I found. My mom has some pretty hilarious footage on video.

Patric Palkens, Boston Ballet

Patric Palkens in George Balanchine's Chaconne. Liza Voll, courtesy Boston Ballet.

I was exhausted during a coupé jeté circle in Pinocchio when I was in school at the National Ballet of Santiago in Chile. About three-quarters of the way through it, my right leg gave out and I went right to the floor. Luckily, I managed a terrible roll and was actually able to stand up and complete the circle. Sadly, my last sauté was also a disaster, and I ended up rolling into the first wing. Thankfully, my character was supposed to be clumsy—maybe the falls were seen as endearing by the audience? One can only hope.

Amy Herchenroether, Saint Louis Ballet

Amy Herchenroether and members of Saint Louis Ballet in Balanchine's "Rubies." Kelly Pratt, courtesy Saint Louis Ballet.

When I was 12 or 13, I got to understudy a small contemporary solo for a recital at Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School, the school I grew up in. At dress rehearsal, the girl who was supposed to dance the solo was absent. So, my teacher had me go on for the show. Four counts in, I completely forgot the choreography. For a second, I stared at the audience. Then I ran offstage. Needless to say, it was pretty traumatizing.

Paul Tillman, Ballet Arkansas

Paul Tillman with Meredith Short Loy. Melissa Dooley, courtesy Ballet Arkansas.

I've had quite a few wardrobe malfunctions at recitals. When I was 16, I was dancing the Le Corsaire pas de deux at my home studio, Dallas Ballet Center. My pants ripped, but I didn't notice — and, you know, I end that pas with my back to the audience. I danced with ripped pants during my variation as well. It wasn't until my partner's variation that someone came up to me and was like, "Hey Paul, is it a little breezy?"

Another time, when I was dancing in a jazz piece at age 18, I stepped on my pant leg and off came my pants. Thankfully, I had a unitard on underneath, but it still shocked the audience.

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:

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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."

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

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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."

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