Quick Change

The following is guest blog by New York City Ballet soloist (and February/March 2010 cover girl) Kathryn Morgan. Stay tuned for more posts from Kathryn!

 

What a whirlwind week I've had! For the past month and a half, I've been busy rehearsing Peter Martins' new ballet for the New York City Ballet's Architecture of Dance Season, as well as our regular Balanchine/Robbins repertoire. I thought I wasn't going to be performing until May 7--but little did I know that a week before our spring gala, I'd end up replacing an injured Janie Taylor in Benjamin Millepied's new ballet. By the way, I hadn't ever seen a step of the piece! I'm not going to lie--I was slightly panicked! They had been working on this piece for weeks and were just starting to really fine-tune details.

So, a rehearsal was scheduled right away for me, and somehow I managed to learn the entire ballet in two hours. I definitely got a great brain workout that day! Thankfully I still had six days (which is actually an eternity at New York City Ballet) to feel comfortable with the ballet and get it in my body. For the next few days I had private rehearsals with Sean Suozzi, my partner for the piece, followed by complete rehearsals with everyone.

Finally, after many impromptu costume fittings, separate orchestra rehearsals, and lots of notes, the performance went exceedingly well. I am so happy that Benjamin was pleased, and even though I wasn't his original vision, I hope I did the ballet justice.

However, the greatest thing for me was how supportive everyone was through this crazy week. The entire cast was so wonderful helping me remember where to go and what came next. At City Ballet, injuries happen all the time, and there are people constantly getting thrown into ballets at the last minute. One of the great treasures of our company is that we are a little family. The encouragement, support, and respect we all have for each other are what make times like this manageable. I don't know how I would have done this without all of my fellow dancers' help. I received many compliments about how quickly I learned the ballet and how incredible it was that I could perform it so well under the pressure of the time crunch, but honestly, without every single person in that ballet, it never would have happened. So I thank each and every one of them from the bottom of my heart! It's times like this that make me realize how special the New York City Ballet truly is.

Ballet Training
Hortense Millet-Maurin (third from left) and her classmates perform August Bournonville's La Conservatoire. Svetlana Loboff, Courtesy POB.

As a little girl, Hortense Millet-Maurin fell in love with the wide spiral staircase that dominates the center of the Paris Opéra Ballet School. Today, as a focused 15-year-old POB student, she and her classmate Vincent Vivet navigate the school's spacious architecture on a daily basis. In a hallway strewn with foam rollers and tennis balls, their faces are laced with concentration as they prepare alongside their peers for afternoon ballet class. Color-coded uniforms reflect Vivet's and Millet-Maurin's third division; with only two advanced divisions remaining, they are increasingly close to realizing their professional aspirations: joining the Paris Opéra Ballet. Pointe spoke with these two young dancers to see what it's like studying inside the world's oldest ballet academy.

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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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Ballet Training
Emily Giacalone, modeled by Elizabeth Steele of The School at Steps.

If you're feeling wobbly in adagio or wish you could hold your piqué attitude a bit longer, there are ways to assess and improve your balance. Try these four exercises, recommended by Heather Southwick, Boston Ballet's director of physical therapy.

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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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