Ballet Stars

2019 Stars of the Corps: Miami City Ballet's Mayumi Enokibara

Mayumi Enokibara in Miami City Ballet's production of George Balanchine's The Nutcracker. Alexander Iziliaev, Courtesy MCB.

As a first-timer in the corps of Concerto Barocco, Mayumi Enokibara exercised a basic tenet: to find joy in a challenge. Though in the end she felt exhausted by the nonstop, intricately entwined Balanchine steps, the Brazilian-born ballerina—in her fourth year, following an apprenticeship, at Miami City Ballet—calls that performance last season's high point. "I loved giving it my all!" she says.


A growing number of ballets have let this MCB School alumna reach for the top. Sparkling with personality, she brings individual gusto to action-packed works. Yet she never loses rapport with her dance companions. "In Tschaikovsky Piano Concerto, my eyes were everywhere," she says, stressing she drew special energy from the principals. Equally alert in Brahms/Handel, she tore through the Jerome Robbins/Twyla Tharp choreography, coming to relish its collective quirks.

While nursing a shoulder injury last fall, Enokibara gained a more holistic view of ballet. "Watching like an audience member," she says, "I appreciated the beauty in everything coming together." Sure, it felt great to return to The Nutcracker as a Marzipan Shepherdess—but now she understands better how every waltzing Flower perfumes the whole bouquet.

Francisco Estevez, Courtesy Colorado Ballet Academy

When you're looking for a ballet program to take you to the next level, there are a lot of factors to consider. While it's tempting to look for the biggest name that will accept you, the savvy dancer knows that successful training has more to do with the attention and opportunities you'll get.

We put together a few of the most important things for dancers to look for in a summer or year-round training program, with the help of the experts at Colorado Ballet Academy:

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Everything Nutcracker
Pennsylvania Ballet demi-soloist Thays Golz as the Sugar Plum Fairy during a stage rehearsal for George Balanchine's Nutcracker. All photography by Arian Molina Soca.

For many professional ballet dancers, Nutcracker means weeks of performances. That usually translates to multiple casts—and important breakout opportunities for those in the junior ranks. On the afternoon of December 13, Pennsylvania Ballet demi-soloist Thays Golz made her debut as the Sugar Plum Fairy along with her Cavalier, corps member Austin Eylar. For the Brazilian-born dancer, who joined PAB in 2018 after two seasons at Houston Ballet, Sugar Plum marks one of her first principal roles.

"I'm really excited," says Golz. PAB artistic director Angel Corella appointed 12 casts of Sugar Plum Fairies over the run's 29 performances. "When I first found out, I was like, 'Pinch me!' I still can't believe it."

We caught up with Golz just before her debut to see how she prepared for her big break.

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Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy US Prix de Ballet

The US Prix de Ballet is taking an unconventional approach to the ballet competition—by putting the competitors' health first. After a successful first year in 2018, the Prix is returning to San Diego, CA this February with an even more comprehensive lineup of wellness workshops and master classes, in addition, of course, to the high-level competition.

Though the talent is top-notch, the environment is friendly, says HARID Conservatory faculty member Victoria Schneider, who serves on US Prix de Ballet's elite panel of judges. "The wellbeing of the dancer is the main focus," says Schneider, who awarded three scholarships to HARID at last year's competition.

US Prix de Ballet was born after its founders traveled to the Japan Grand Prix International Ballet Competition in 2016. "The company ran every aspect of the competition with professionalism, dignity, honor and precision," says founder Neisha Hernandez. "We knew we wanted this level of experience for America."

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