Beatrix Stix-Brunell: A Prodigy Grows Up

Most talented ballet dancers follow a predictable school-to-company route. Not Beatriz Stix-Brunell. Currently in The Royal Ballet’s corps, she has carved out an unconventional—and already high-profile—career path.

 

Stix-Brunell, who grew up in New York City, began her training at the School of American Ballet. But something, she felt, was missing. “The Balanchine style is beautiful, and I was getting performance opportunities that were so much fun,” she says. “But I wanted to get my classical training up to par.” So at 12, she auditioned for the Paris Opéra Ballet School. Being one of the “petits rats” for a year not only added polish to her technique (she ranked at the top of her class in the year-end exams), but also introduced her to the European ballet scene. “The work ethic and the quality of dance there, the sense of tradition, was overwhelming,” she remembers. “I thought it was magical.”

 

Hooked on the purity of the POB style, Stix-Brunell sought out master teacher Fabrice Herrault, a POBS alum, when she returned to New York. They began a demanding training regimen that combined Herrault’s classes at Steps on Broadway with private lessons. “Fabrice taught me that there are no tricks in ballet,” Stix-Brunell says. “He’d compile footage for me of Anna Pavlova, Mikhail Baryshnikov and Gelsey Kirkland. And he’d explain that they all made it by working extremely hard.” Though Herrault proved a trusted mentor, Stix-Brunell decided to return to SAB in her junior year to accommodate her academic schedule at a private girls’ school. But she continued classes with Herrault, “to keep up my classical work,” she explains.

 

All of Stix-Brunell’s training choices show a bright, inquisitive mind, and they’ve resulted in an unmannered technique that’s the perfect canvas for both classical and contemporary work. It didn’t take long for people to notice. Christopher Wheeldon put Stix-Brunell on the professional map when he asked her to join Morphoses, then under his direction, when she was just 15. “She was a rose in the room,” Wheeldon says of her audition. “Even at such a young age, she had an intelligent approach to the work.” Stix-Brunell held her own performing alongside seasoned professionals from New York City Ballet and The Royal Ballet. “I treated her like one of the gang, and she got on with it,” Wheeldon says. “Before long, Maria Kowroski was giving her makeup tips.” It was a fairytale story, and Vogue and New York magazine wasted no time printing it. Suddenly Stix-Brunell was, by ballet standards, a household name.

 

The young dancer took her newfound fame in stride—and kept her eyes wide open as she toured with Morphoses. “When we were performing at Sadler’s Wells in London, we took class with The Royal, and it was like love at first sight,” she says. “The dancers were gorgeous. I thought, ‘I have to pursue this.’” She began an email exchange with director Monica Mason that resulted, by the spring of 2010, in Stix-Brunell’s corps contract with The Royal—no audition required.

 

During her first year with the company, she learned a slew of ballets, among them Onegin, Sylvia and Theme and Variations. She was also reunited with Wheeldon when he arrived to choreograph Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. (Stix-Brunell was a jack-of-all-trades swing in the ballet, portraying everything from a bird to a playing card.) “I’m very proud to see Beatriz showing the kind of confidence and beauty that were mere seeds at Morphoses,” Wheeldon says. “The Royal’s a perfect fit for her. She’s versatile and strong in the contemporary work, but she also has the delicacy and strength needed in the company’s Ashton rep and the dramatic qualities needed for MacMillan.”

 

And the 18-year-old recently passed another milestone: She graduated from high school, after a senior year full of Skype sessions with her teachers in New York. Next up? College. “I’m applying to the University of London. They have a part-time course in humanities that only takes six years,” she says. “This might sound weird, but school has always been a source of relaxation for me. When my body is exhausted, it feels good to exercise my mind.”

at a glance
Name: Beatriz Stix-Brunell
Age: 18
Company: The Royal Ballet
Training: School of American Ballet, Paris Opéra Ballet School, Fabrice Herrault
Dream Roles: Juliet, Giselle, Alice in Christopher Wheeldon’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
Idols: Ekaterina Maximova, Alla Sizova, Fred Astaire, Nadezhda Pavlova

Latest Posts


Peter Mueller, Courtesy Cincinnati Ballet

2020 Stars of the Corps: 10 Dancers Making Strides In and Out of the Spotlight

The corps de ballet make up the backbone of every company. In our Fall 2020 issue, we highlighted 10 ensemble standouts to keep your eye on. Click on their names to learn more!

Dara Holmes, Joffrey Ballet

A male dancer catches a female dancer in his right arm as she wraps her left arm around his shoulder and executes a high arabesque on pointe. Both wear white costumes and dance in front of a blue backdrop onstage.

Dara Holmes and Edson Barbosa in Myles Thatcher's Body of Your Dreams

Cheryl Mann, Courtesy Joffrey Ballet

Wanyue Qiao, American Ballet Theatre

Wearing a powder blue tutu, cropped light yellow top and feather tiara, Wanyue Qiao does a piqu\u00e9 retir\u00e9 on pointe on her left leg and pulls her right arm in towards her.

Wanyue Qiao as an Odalisque in Konstantin Sergeyev's Le Corsaire

Gene Schiavone, Courtesy ABT

Joshua Guillemot-Rodgerson, Houston Ballet

Three male dancers in tight-fitting, multicolored costumes stand in positions of ascending height from left to right. All extend their right arms out in front of them.

Joshua Guillemot-Rodgerson (far right) with Saul Newport and Austen Acevedo in Oliver Halkowich's Following

Amitava Sarkar, Courtesy Houston Ballet

Leah McFadden, Colorado Ballet

Wearing a white pixie wig and a short light-pink tunic costume, a female ballet dancer poses in attitude front on pointe with her left arm bent across her ribs and her right hand held below her chin.

Leah McFadden as Amour in Colorado Ballet's production of Don Quixote

Mike Watson, Courtesy Colorado Ballet

Maria Coelho, Tulsa Ballet

Maria Coelho and Sasha Chernjavsky in Andy Blankenbuehler's Remember Our Song

Kate Lubar, Courtesy Tulsa Ballet

Alexander Reneff-Olson, San Francisco Ballet

A ballerina in a black feathered tutu stands triumphantly in sous-sus, holding the hand of a male dancer in a dark cloak with feathers underneath who raises his left hand in the air.

Alexander Reneff-Olson (right) as Von Rothbart with San Francisco Ballet principal Yuan Yuan Tan in Swan Lake

Erik Tomasson, Courtesy SFB

India Bradley, New York City Ballet

Wearing a blue dance dress with rhinestone embellishments and a sparkly tiara, India Bradley finishes a move with her arms out to the side and hands slightly flexed.

India Bradley practices backstage before a performance of Balanchine's Tschaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2.

Erin Baiano, Courtesy NYCB

Bella Ureta, Cincinnati Ballet

Wearing a white dress with pink corset, Bella Ureta does a first arabesque on pointe in front of an onstage stone wall.

Bella Ureta performs the Act I Pas de Trois in Kirk Peterson's Swan Lake

Hiromi Platt, Courtesy Cincinnati Ballet

Alejándro Gonzales, Oklahoma City Ballet

Dressed in a green bell-boy costume and hat, Alejandro Gonz\u00e1lez does a saut\u00e9 with his left leg in retir\u00e9 and his arms in a long diagonal from right to left. Other dancers in late 19-century period costumes watch him around the stage.

Alejandro González in Michael Pink's Dracula at Oklahoma City Ballet.

Kate Luber, Courtesy Oklahoma City Ballet

Nina Fernandes, Miami City Ballet

Wearing a long white tutu and crown, Nina Fernandes does a saut de chat in front of a wintery backdrop as snow falls from the top of the stage.

Nina Fernandes in George Balanchine's The Nutcracker

Alexander Iziliaev, Courtesy Miami City Ballet

Getty Images

Thinking About College Ballet Programs? Here's a Comprehensive Guide to the Application Process

Gone are the days when you had to skip college in order to have a successful ballet career. College ballet programs are better than ever before, providing students with the training, professional connections and performance experience they need to thrive in companies postgraduation. But given the number of elements involved in the application process, choosing the right program can feel daunting. We've broken the college application timeline down step by step to help you best approach each stage along the way.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Evelyn Cisneros-Legate. Photo by Beau Pearson, Courtesy Ballet West

Ballet West Academy's New Director on Dream Building During COVID-19

Evelyn Cisneros-Legate is bringing her hard-earned expertise to Ballet West. The former San Francisco Ballet star is taking over all four campuses of The Frederick Quinney Lawson Ballet West Academy as the school's new director.

Cisneros-Legate, whose mother put her in ballet classes in an attempt to help her overcome her shyness, trained at the San Francisco Ballet School and School of American Ballet before joining San Francisco Ballet as a full company member in 1977. She danced with the company for 23 years, breaking barriers as the first Mexican American to become a principal dancer in the U.S., and has graced the cover of Dance Magazine no fewer than three times.

As an educator, Cisneros-Legate has served as ballet coordinator at San Francisco Ballet, principal of Boston Ballet School's North Shore Studio and artistic director of after-school programming at the National Dance Institute (NDI). Dance Teacher spoke with her about her new position, her plans for the academy and leading in the time of COVID-19.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks