You have incredible flexibility—how has that changed over the years?
I’ve learnt how to use it to say what it can, rather than just flashing it around and being a freak. It’s easier to control now; I’m stronger than I was. It’s become a really amazing tool for me to tell a story.

What is it like playing a bug in The Metamorphosis?

It’s extraordinary because—is he a bug? Is it a metaphor for someone who’s had some kind of breakdown, someone who has a physical deformity? I don’t really think of it as a bug. It’s something that isn’t human, and that’s the absurdity of the whole story.

Do you identify with some of your roles?

I have to be careful because they’re all psychos! There are things in all the MacMillan ballets that I identify with: being a bit of an outsider, that kind of obsessive love. You don’t always realize that there is part of that in you until you’ve done it.

How nervous do you get before a performance?

I normally don’t sleep at all the night before, just from thinking about what I want to achieve. I’m anxious until about 5:30 pm on the day, and then something happens to me. I go, “I’m going to do this.” And I’m fine.

What do you enjoy more: performing or being in the studio?

Performing, but, frustratingly, I’ve actually given some of my best performances in the studio.

What’s your biggest indulgence?

Eating out all the time, because I’m the worst cook in the world. I like going to new restaurants, and I’m up for trying anything. I am kind of a foodie—I just don’t want to cook it myself!

Do you like curtain calls?
I hate them. It’s not that I’m not appreciative, but it’s like you’ve been in this other world, and then you snap back into reality. I have this weird moment when I’m completely overwhelmed. I guess I do secretly love it, but it’s not my reason to dance.



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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