New Year's Resolution: Maggie Small

Successful ballet dancers all share one trait: a relentless determination to improve. To close out 2012, Pointe reached out to dancers we covered this past year to find out their resolutions for the next one.

Name: Maggie Small
Company: Richmond Ballet



Resolution: “My boyfriend Tommy was recently out for some pretty serious tendonitis and was doing a lot of physical therapy to get back in time for Nutcracker. He keeps talking about how his exercises in PT are making him rethink how he uses his muscles and approaches things in class and rehearsal. I have my standard PT exercises, Pilates and yoga stuff that I always do, but when we return from Nutcracker, I'm planning to take more time with the physical therapist we have at the ballet to find out new weaknesses or habits that have crept in that could potentially pose danger in terms of injury or that may just be making dancing more difficult. It's so easy to fall into a routine with the cross-training exercises we do, and I think I could stand to update my routine outside of the studio. I always try to make an effort to be as efficient as possible in how I use my body so I can dance longer and stronger. Hopefully this resolution will continue my attempts at longevity, productivity and performance."

More Maggie: Read her guest blog posts from tour in London, and check out our sister publication Dance Magazine's September cover story.

Ballet Training
Kali Kleiman performing at YAGP's New York Finals. VAM Productions, Courtesy YAGP.

As someone who has judged many ballet competitions, I've had the opportunity to see some breathtaking contemporary solos that combine fantastic technique with well-conceived choreography. Yet it's often hard for us judges to see the artistic intention behind these solos the way we can when watching a classical variation. For one thing, we're simply more familiar with classical ballet's repertoire and characters. But also, when a contemporary solo is just a string of one trick after another, or only delivers one emotion (such as overwrought angst), we don't get to see any artistic depth.

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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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Ballet Stars
Elle Macy in Benjamin Millepied's Appassionata. Angela Sterling, Courtesy PNB.

Cross-training misconceptions: Before Elle Macy became an apprentice with Pacific Northwest Ballet, she was apprehensive about cross-training. "I was warned that it might bulk you, or not to do certain activities because they could potentially injure you." But a stress fracture in her foot changed her perspective. Unable to bear much weight, Macy reluctantly tried stationary biking at her physical therapist's suggestion. "What I learned is that you're not going to get injured from being on an elliptical for 20 minutes or by taking a Pilates class," says Macy. Today, it's not uncommon to find the soloist training on the elliptical, doing ankle stability exercises, using the Pilates reformer or taking a hot yoga class.

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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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