Do you miss classical tutus?
Not yet. But this morning Sleeping Beauty was on. Dancing Aurora took me to a different level at Pacific Northwest Ballet. That part of my life is done, but it was positive.

Where do you consider home?

I’m still finding myself. I don’t want it to be comfortable here—that was the whole reason I left Seattle.

What qualities do you admire most in other dancers?
Tenacity. In Monte-Carlo, I look up to Bernice Coppieters. She still strives to make each step count. She holds the bar very high for the company.

How do you prepare your pointe shoes?

It’s changed since Seattle. I have to dye my own shoes, and then I glue the insides, very lightly. We do a lot of demi-pointe work, and the shoes need to be softer for me to roll through them easily.

What talent do you have that few people know about?

I love origami. I know a lot of different styles, and I am pretty obsessive about that!

What was your worst onstage nightmare?
My Sanguinic première in The Four Temperaments. I overstepped in a turn and fell flailing. I was so shaken that I forgot what I was doing and just stood there.

What do you enjoy most about your dance career?
More and more, I enjoy working in the studio. It is a relaxed place, a time to think and process things.

Ballet Training
Hortense Millet-Maurin (third from left) and her classmates perform August Bournonville's La Conservatoire. Svetlana Loboff, Courtesy POB.

As a little girl, Hortense Millet-Maurin fell in love with the wide spiral staircase that dominates the center of the Paris Opéra Ballet School. Today, as a focused 15-year-old POB student, she and her classmate Vincent Vivet navigate the school's spacious architecture on a daily basis. In a hallway strewn with foam rollers and tennis balls, their faces are laced with concentration as they prepare alongside their peers for afternoon ballet class. Color-coded uniforms reflect Vivet's and Millet-Maurin's third division; with only two advanced divisions remaining, they are increasingly close to realizing their professional aspirations: joining the Paris Opéra Ballet. Pointe spoke with these two young dancers to see what it's like studying inside the world's oldest ballet academy.

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Sponsored by Ballet Arizona
Tzu Chia Huang, Courtesy Ballet Arizona

These days, ballet dancers are asked to do more than they ever have—whether that's tackling versatile rep, taking on intense cross-training regimens or managing everything from their Instagram pages to their summer layoff gigs.

Without proper training, these demands can take a toll on both the mind and the body. But students can start preparing for them early—with the right summer intensive program.

The School of Ballet Arizona's summer intensive takes a well-rounded approach to training—not just focusing on technique and facility but nurturing overall dancer growth. "You cannot make a dancer just by screaming at them like they used to," says master ballet teacher Roberto Muñoz, who guests at the program every summer. "You have to take care of the person as well."

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Ballet Training
Emily Giacalone, modeled by Elizabeth Steele of The School at Steps.

If you're feeling wobbly in adagio or wish you could hold your piqué attitude a bit longer, there are ways to assess and improve your balance. Try these four exercises, recommended by Heather Southwick, Boston Ballet's director of physical therapy.

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Courtesy School of Pennsylvania Ballet

While many of us are deep in Nutcracker duties, The School of Pennsylvania Ballet director James Payne has been looking further ahead, finalizing preparations for the school's summer intensive programs. In January, he and his staff will embark on a 24-city audition tour to scour the country for the best young dancers, deciding whether or not to offer them a spot—maybe even a scholarship—in the school's rigorous 5-week intensive focused on high-caliber ballet instruction. Though he'll be evaluating aspirants, he urges that as a student, you should be equally selective in choosing programs that could galvanize your training—and possibly even your career.

We got Payne's advice on strategizing your summer intensive plan before the audition cycle kicks in:

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