Show and Tell: Inside Piotr Stanczyk’s Dance Bag

National Ballet of Canada principal Piotr Stanczyk is so passionate about his training, he doesn’t let a day go by without going into the studio. “I’m class-obsessed. I always do class, even Sunday,” says Stanczyk. He used to have to go to the theater to practice, but he recently bought a house. “I’m going to make a little space in the basement and put in a mirror and a floor,” he says. “I can’t wait.”

Growing up in Poland, Stanczyk switched from swimming to ballet when, at age 13, he was told he was too short (he’s now 6'1"). He hated it. “It was like, what am I doing here?” He recalls some classes having 20 boys and only 4 girls. “But then you sort of grow up,” he says. “I discovered a love for dance. I have a huge passion for it. It’s not about money or fame; it’s about where you are. I just love being onstage and having the audience watch your every move.” Stanczyk also enjoys teaching. “I didn’t know I was going to have such a huge passion for teaching until I started doing it,” he says. “I teach boys grade10 to grade 12 at Canada’s National Ballet School. I tell them, ‘Listen guys, it doesn’t matter how much it hurts, or how much you don’t want to do it. This class today that you do, you’re going to have to do every day of your career, every day. You’ve got to do it.’”

As far as his own dancing goes, 2009 should be an exciting year. NBC’s winter season features new works by three Canadian choreographers. “I’m very interested in Crystal Pite’s work. She’s trying to show something completely new, and that’s what it’s about—breaking ground,” says Stanczyk. And in June he’s looking forward to the company première of Davide Bombana’s Carmen. He has one of the leads.

The Goods
Lululemon bag (he’s an ambassador), canvas ballet slippers, prescription Voltaren, aspirin, Biofreeze, Rub A535 (a Canadian analgesic), Gatorade, two deodorants, Sigg water bottle, down booties, jazz shoes, running shoes, sweat shirt, two extra T-shirts (one sleeveless), Footsie Roller, Thera-band, iPod, tennis ball, CD with ballet class music, DVD of a role he has to learn for Pro Arte (a small Toronto-based company), Toronto Magazine, The Diary of Vaslav Nijinsky (edited by Joan Acocella), Save the Males: Why Men Matter, Why Women Should Care, by Kathleen Parker

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.

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Sponsored by Ballet Arizona
Tzu Chia Huang, Courtesy Ballet Arizona

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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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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."

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Courtesy School of Pennsylvania Ballet

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