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  • Editor’s Letter: Start Thinking Ahead

    Injuries always come at the most inconvenient time. Our cover guy, Derek Dunn, was on the fast track towards ... More »

  • Call Board

    The West Coast Falls for Forsythe After 40 years in Europe, choreographer William Forsythe recently put down stateside roots ... More »

  • Studio to Street: Céline Cassone

    What is Céline Cassone’s favorite thing to buy? Cowboy boots, to add to her growing collection. “I’m just crazy ...

  • Show and Tell: Jordan-Elizabeth Long

    When Miami City Ballet soloist Jordan-Elizabeth Long previously danced with the Royal Swedish Ballet, professional hairdressers styled her performance ...

  • Dancer Spotlight: Alexis Fletcher

    Vancouver, British Columbia’s 2010 Olympic Winter Games were golden for more than just big-name athletes. Like so many Vancouverites ...

  • Ask Amy: Degree Dilemmas

    Should I turn down an apprenticeship to finish my dance degree, or should I put my education on pause? ...

  • The Making of a Tour

    What does it take to bring a major production on tour? In July, Houston Ballet mounted a 12-show run ...

  • Defying Gravity

    Houston Ballet’s Derek Dunn knows how to make an entrance. While just an apprentice in 2013, Dunn catapulted through ...

  • Summer on Campus

    Maura Bell was determined to have a ballet career. But as a high school senior, she didn’t feel ready ... More »

  • The Chance of a Lifetime

    As told to Nicole Loeffler-Gladstone and Madeline Schrock What was life like at the Vaganova Ballet Academy? Gabrielle Perkins, ... More »

  • Enchanted

    It’s okay to want to feel like a princess sometimes. Let shades of carnation and rose gold, and dustings ...

  • The Workout: Andrea Yorita

    Cross-training keeps Andrea Yorita prepared for the demanding variety in BalletX’s repertoire. Choreographic chameleon: At BalletX, Andrea Yorita performs ...

  • 5 Ways to Release Your IT Band and TFL

    You may not understand exactly what causes a tight IT (iliotibial) band, but you’ve probably experienced that uncomfortable tension ... More »

  • Beyond the BFA

    During his sophomore year at the University of Oklahoma, Austin Crumley switched the focus of his Bachelor of Fine ...

  • Dream Role: A Love Beyond Reach

    In August Bournonville’s 1836 ballet La Sylphide, every gesture has meaning. The National Ballet of Canada’s Jurgita Dronina talks ...

  • Family and Friends

    City Ballet of San Diego is admired in Southern California for its diversity of dancers, a sizeable Balanchine repertoire, ...

  • Juggling Two Worlds

    Upon high school graduation, dancers are often forced to choose between going to college or pursuing a career right ... More »

  • 2016 Higher Ed Guide

    These days, many ballet dancers are opting to earn their college diploma before they score a company contract. Because ... More »

  • Reverence: Ashley Murphy — Strength in Change

    The Washington Ballet’s Ashley Murphy isn’t afraid to step outside her comfort zone. Why did you make the move ...

Ballet Careers
Lenai Alexis Wilkerson. Christopher Duggan, Courtesy Michelle Tabnick Public Relations.

This is one of a series of stories on recent graduates' on-campus experiences—and the connections they made that jump-started their dance careers. Lenai Alexis Wilkerson graduated from University of Southern California with a BFA in dance (dance performance concentration) and a political science minor in 2019.

As Lenai Alexis Wilkerson looked at colleges, she wanted a school that would prepare her for two totally different professions: dancing and law. "I knew, pretty much when I was 16, that I wanted to go to law school," she says. "So I wanted the opportunity to have a dual college experience, where I could have a conservatory training style within a university and I could focus equally on my academics." When she auditioned for the inaugural class of University of Southern California's Glorya Kaufman School of Dance, she knew it was the right fit.

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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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News
Nicolas Pelletier in Carmina Burana. Francisco Estevez, Courtesy Colorado Ballet.

Last week, Colorado Ballet interrupted Nutcracker rehearsals for an exciting announcement: Four dancers were being promoted. Though all made the jump from the company's corps de ballet, Nicolas Pelletier ascended directly to the rank of soloist, while Sean Omandam, Emily Speed and Melissa Zoebisch were promoted to demi-soloist. This news comes hot on the heels of last August's promotion of Francisco Estevez to principal.

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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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