On the Side: Rachel Cossar

When she performs with Boston Ballet II, 20-year-old Rachel Cossar stands out for her spectacular extensions and her utter fearlessness. But few would guess that she owes both to an unlikely kind of training: Cossar was, until last year, a world-class rhythmic gymnast.

Cossar started studying “regular” (artistic) gymnastics when she was very young, but soon it was clear that she would be too tall to compete successfully. Her coaches steered her towards rhythmic gymnastics, which involves the manipulation of various devices (ribbons, hoops and balls among them), requires incredible flexibility and incorporates aspects of dance—including ballet. Cossar began taking ballet classes and immediately felt an affinity for the artform. “I noticed that routines with the ball—which are often set to classical ballet music—were my favorites,” she says.

Cossar was a member of the Canadian national rhythmic gymnastics team for 10 years. But at 19—when she was ranked third on the team—she decided to retire. Ballet was calling her. She began auditioning for companies, ultimately securing a spot at BBII. Today she continues to train and also teaches at Rhythmic Dreams gym in Boston.


Cossar is thankful for the steely confidence that comes out of years of high-level competition. “To get on that carpet in front of a panel of judges—that’s incredibly stressful,” she says. “It’s made it easier for me to feel comfortable onstage.” But she doesn’t miss the pressures of competition. “I love that ballet isn’t about winning; it’s about giving the audience joy.”

Latest Posts

Getty Images

How to Support the Black Dance Community, Beyond Social Media

The dance community's response to the death of George Floyd was immediate and sweeping on social media. Dance artists, including Desmond Richardson and Martha Nichols, used their social platforms to make meaningful statements about racial inequality. Theresa Ruth Howard's leadership spurred ballet companies including Dance Theatre of Harlem, American Ballet Theatre, and New York City Ballet to pledge #BalletRelevesForBlackLives. Among the most vocal supporters have been dance students, who continue to share the faces and gut-wrenching last words of Black men and women who have died in police custody on their Instagram feeds and Stories.

The work we're doing on social media as a community is important and necessary—and we should keep at it. But now, that momentum must also carry us into taking action. Because to be a true ally, action is required.

A responsible ally amplifies Black voices­­. They choose to listen rather than speak. And they willingly throw their support, and, if they can, their dollars, behind Black dancers and Black dance organizations. Here are some ways you can do your part.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Getty Images

Class of 2020, These Ballet Stars Have a Heartfelt Video Message Just for You

Congratulations to this year's graduating seniors!

You might not have had the chance to take that long planned-for final bow, but we're here to cheer you on and celebrate all that you've accomplished. And we've brought together stars from across the ballet world to help us; check out the video to hear their best wishes for your futures.

To further fête all of the ballet grads out there, we're also giving away 100 free subscriptions to Pointe... plus, one lucky bunhead will receive a personalized message from one of ballet's biggest stars. Click here to enter!

Tulsa Ballet in Ma Cong's Tchaikovsky: The Man Behind the Music. Kate Luber Photography, Courtesy Tulsa Ballet.

Updated: Mark Your Calendars for These Online Ballet Performances

Updated on 5/27/2020

Since COVID-19 has forced ballet companies around the world to cancel performances—and even the remainder of their seasons—many are keeping their audiences engaged by streaming or posting pre-recorded performances onto their websites or social media channels. To help keep you inspired during these challenging times, we've put together a list of upcoming streaming events and digital performances.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks