You never have to worry about Skylar Brandt. The 19-year-old corps member is unflappable, whether she’s tackling a performance, a photo shoot or an interview. As a charter student of the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School of American Ballet Theatre, she’s been the face of the organization—and one of its brightest success stories.
Brandt fell in love with ballet after seeing ABT principal Julie Kent perform. “I watched her and I knew: Boy, I want to do that,” Brandt says. “And I wanted to do it at ABT.” At 12, she auditioned for the brand-new JKO School. “A lot of people might have seen it as a risk, because you never know what to expect at a school that’s not established,” Brandt says. “But I wanted to be in ABT so bad that I went for it. ”
At JKO, Brandt smoothed out her technique. “Franco understands that a ballet dancer needs to be a blank canvas that choreographers can draw on,” she says. In 2009, she joined the ABT Studio Company (then called ABT II). One year later, she became an apprentice with ABT; in 2011, she entered the corps de ballet. Her childhood dream had come true.
Though she’s already had a few opportunities—including a turn as one of the ballet girls in Twyla Tharp’s In the Upper Room—Brandt is still a little in awe of the company stars she’s worshipped for years. But watching them, she says, “is what’s helping me develop as an artist. They inspire me to grow.”
Most embarrassing onstage moment: “When I was really young, I totally blanked out during a dress rehearsal onstage. I was so mortified that I lied and blamed my costume—we were wearing this gold gauze over our faces, so I told my teacher that I’d messed up because I couldn’t see!”
If she weren’t dancing, she would: “Go into real estate. That sounds weird, but it’s my family’s business. I can see myself doing that when I retire.”
Secret talent: “I can speak gibberish and ‘uppy guppy,’ a nonsense language that my mom taught me.”
Pets: “I technically have seven dogs! That’s if you count the ones owned by my family—my sisters each have two, my parents have two and I have my little dog, Wylie. He’s an Australian silky terrier, and he’s so smart.”