Spontaneity and Elegance: Dutch National Ballet's Jurgita Dronina Doesn't Get Nervous Before Performing

Dronina in Grand Pas Classique. Angela Sterling.

What qualities do you admire most in other dancers?

Nowadays there are so many dancers who jump, turn, have high extensions, a beautiful body. But quality is much more than ability, because you can always hide your physical flaws: It's musicality, artistry, port de bras. Everything counts.

How nervous do you get before a performance?

I can't even say I'm excited, because it means a little bit nervous, and I'm not: I just look forward to going onstage and sharing what I feel today.


How do you prepare your pointe shoes for performance?

I like old shoes—very soft for the articulation, so they feel like a second skin. I like to speak with my feet, as if I was dancing barefoot. I've worn Gaynor Mindens for 10 years, and I wear the softest shank—otherwise I feel like I'm jumping up and down.

Do you have any pre-performance rituals?

I did before I had my son! I used to nap and have sushi before the shows, but now I don't have time. I live five minutes from the theater, and after rehearsal I pick my son up from kindergarten, I take him home and I make dinner. Then I run back to the theater to get ready for the show.

Do you have a secret talent?

Even people who know me are surprised when I say I like extreme sports. I love motorcycles, climbing, and I would jump from a parachute without a doubt—I've done it.

Ballet Stars

For many a bunhead, "The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" is not just a holiday tradition, but a rite of passage. The variation, with its tinkling celesta, bourrées and petit battus, is one that all ballet dancers are familiar with, and getting the opportunity to perform it often represents moving into new realms in your training or career. Such was the case for Soviet ballerina Ekaterina Maximova. In this 1957 clip, the 18-year-old aspirant performed the Sugar Plum variation at a ballet competition, where she represented the Bolshoi Ballet Academy.

Keep reading... Show less
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."

Keep reading... Show less
Getty Images

For any young dancer performing in The Nutcracker, Marie (aka Clara, depending on the production) is a dream role. But Charlotte Nebres, who will be playing Marie in New York City Ballet's Nutcracker this year isn't just bringing her own dream to life—she's also making history.

Charlotte is the first black dancer to ever perform the role of Marie in NYCB's production of George Balanchine's The Nutcracker, which dates all the way back to 1954. Charlotte was, of course, hugely excited to perform the role of Marie, but, according to the New York Times, when her mother told her that she was the first black dancer cast in the role, she said "Wow. That seems a little late."

Keep reading... Show less
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:

Keep reading... Show less