Pacific Northwest Ballet corps member Abby Relic has never been your typical bunhead. At her Kansas high school, she was a member of the decidedly un-balletic drill team—which is where she first discovered hip hop. “The captain made up this sort of hip-hoppy routine for us that I loved,” Relic remembers. “It was such a release. I’ve always enjoyed busting out of the ballerina box.”

But Relic didn’t start taking hip-hop classes regularly until she arrived in Seattle in 2008: “I discovered this studio, Westlake Dance Center, that has a bunch of hip-hop teachers. It’s fun to learn all their different styles. They’ve taught me that hip hop is about capturing an attitude, a feeling, and then adding a bit of yourself on top, instead of just copying the teacher.”

That emphasis on putting a personal stamp on choreography has changed the way Relic thinks about even the most classical pieces. “When you’re in the corps of a story ballet, you have to dance cleanly so you fit in—but now I consciously put more of me into the movement,” she says. Plus, she’s found that when the company is learning a contemporary ballet, her diverse hip-hop experience helps her nail the quirkier steps. “I’m used to picking up new styles quickly, even if they feel foreign at first.”

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Are you a total bunhead who loves to write? You might be the perfect fit for Pointe. We're seeking an editorial intern who's equally passionate about ballet and journalism.

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Darian Volkova, Courtesy Shayer

After years of rigorous training, ballet dancers become accustomed to constructive and oftentimes harsh criticism. Being scrutinized is something that comes with the territory.

I myself spent the better half of my high school years in Russia, where political correctness does not get in the way of progress. We were trained to use criticism as fuel to propel us forward. Everything said in class or rehearsal was meant to help better ourselves and not to be taken personally.

But where is the line between helpful advice and offensive language?

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News
Greta Hodgkinson and Guillaume Côté in Margeurite and Armand. Karolina Kuras, Courtesy National Ballet of Canada.

Wonder what's going on in ballet this week? We've rounded up some highlights.

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Training
Students at Sun King Dance's Adult Ballet Camp. Jenny McQueen of Capture Photography, Courtesy Sun King Dance.

For adult recreational dancers, summer isn't just a time for swapping out warm-up sweaters for breezy tees—it's also about taking your training to the next level, and perhaps packing your bags for a ballet workshop. Why should teens and pre-professionals have all of the fun? Fortunately, there are scores of adult summer programs all over the United States, and even abroad for those of you looking to sprinkle in a little sightseeing after your final reverénce. (Can't wait for summer? Check out these spring workshops at National Ballet of Canada and Sarasota Ballet.)

What can adults expect from a weekend or a week of dance training? Everything from technique to repertoire to yoga. Most of all, it's a chance to just dig in and dance, without a pesky to-do list waiting for you after class. Here are some summer programs designed for adult recreational dancers to keep on your radar.

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