Elisabeth Beyer and Daniel Sarabia rehearse "Grand Pas Classique" in New York City before heading to Havana. Photo by Kevin Hesse, courtesy Ellison Ballet.
Elisabeth Beyer may only be 16, but she is already cultivating an international following. A Professional Training Program student at Ellison Ballet in New York City, this year she won first place in the senior women's finals at the Youth America Grand Prix in New York and the junior gold medal at the USA International Ballet Competition. In late October, she had the opportunity to perform Grand Pas Classique at the 26th Havana International Ballet Festival in a gala alongside stars from The Royal Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, La Scala and, of course, Cuban National Ballet. Her partner was Cuban-born international guest artist Daniel Sarabia, and the two only had a short time to prepare. We caught up with her to talk about what the whirlwind experience was like.
Elisabeth Beyer in "La Esmeralda." Photo by Rachel Neville, Courtesy Ellison Ballet.
Last month, Ellison Ballet Professional Training Program student Elisabeth Beyer came in first place in the senior women's category at the Youth America Grand Prix's New York City Finals.Pointe touched base with the 16-year-old Rye, New York native to hear about her advice for competitions, how she stays calm backstage, and what's next for this young dancer.
What made YAGP different this year?
I was so excited for YAGP this year because it was my first year as a senior. I started YAGP when I was nine, so this was my seventh year doing it; it's always been a part of my life as a dancer.
Which variations did you perform?
For regionals I did Coppelia Act III variation, Grand Pas Classique and a contemporary piece by Barry Kerollis, and then for finals I did Grand Pas Classique again and a contemporary variation by Joshua Beamish. For the final round I did La Esmeralda. You don't have to do a different variation at finals, but my teachers and I wanted to show off different sides of my dancing.
Congratulations to the 2018 YAGP winners! After months of semi-finals, 1,800 dancers from around the world were chosen to attend a week of finals in New York, competing for ballet scholarships and contracts. We've been following the action all week (you can catch up on our backstage coverage, here). The 2018 competition wrapped up on April 19 with the Stars of Today Meet The Stars of Tomorrow gala which featured performances from pros like American Ballet Theatre's Isabella Boylston and New York City Ballet's Tiler Peck. Following today's awards ceremony, YAGP has just announced this year's winners (aka the dancers you're going to want make note of). Check out the full list and highlights from the competition below.
1st Place: Elisabeth Beyer (15), Ellison Ballet - Professional Training Program, NY, USA
2nd Place: Guo Wen Jin (16), Shanghai Dance School, China
Rebecca Rhodes (center) in Balanchine's "Theme and Variations" Photo by Erik Tomasson, Courtesy of San Francisco Ballet
Being in the corps can be pretty unforgiving. You dance in nearly every performance, it sometimes feels like you're only onstage to add to the scenery, and you're expected to fit in—while still vying for soloist roles. It's enough to make even the most determined dancer lose steam. Pointe spoke with three corps de ballet dancers about how they use a combination of self-discipline and creativity to keep themselves motivated.
Shine in Class
After a few years, morning class can feel like a chore—especially during heavy rehearsal periods when your body just wants to rest. But rather than viewing it as a drag, try reframing class as a chance to show your best, hardest-working self. For San Francisco Ballet corps member Rebecca Rhodes, class is a time to push harder, not slack off. "It's a great time to be noticed," she says, especially for dancers hoping to be cast in featured roles. "I make sure to do every combination two or three times, and I try not to pick and choose what's comfortable," she says.
In 2004, as dancers waited in the hallway for their usual morning class at Steps on Broadway in New York City, they could catch a glimpse of teacher Edward Ellison privately coaching individuals in a small studio near the reception desk. From that handful of students, the former San Francisco Ballet soloist formed Ellison Ballet in 2005, a small, selective pre-professional school that in 10 short years has grown into a full-time program complete with year-round housing and three summer intensives—and an impressive list of alumni.
Ellison’s students have joined the rosters of the Paris Opera Ballet, San Francisco Ballet and Staatsballett Berlin, among others, and are frequent finalists and winners of international ballet competitions. “He really helps with all the details, especially how to connect to your partner,” says current student Juliette Bosco, who recently won first place in the Junior Division and the Pas de Deux Award at the 2015 Youth America Grand Prix finals in NYC.
No one is more surprised at how quickly the program took off than Ellison. “In this information age, word travels so fast with a click of a mouse,” he says. “I think it also became very attractive because people understood that not everyone could get in—which in a way, attracted more talent at auditions.” He also credits the curriculum’s commitment to the Vaganova method. “I believe in it wholeheartedly as a very logical and strong foundation for a dancer to spring from,” he says. “The dancers are able to become versatile because they have such a strong base.”
Current students and alumni are gathering together for Ellison Ballet’s 10th Anniversary Celebration May 15 and 16 at Symphony Space in NYC. The program includes a one-act Carmen, as well as excerpts from ballets such as Flames of Paris, Grand Pas Classique and Esmeralda.
Ellison Ballet student Juliette Bosco, photo by Rachel Neville Photography
Nope, we're not talking about sending flowers and chocolates on Valentine's Day; we're talking about improving your pas de deux skills.
Ellison Ballet in New York City is offering a new four-week Classical Pas de Deux summer intensive for pre-professional students ages 16 and older. (Watch videos of Ellison Ballet's main summer program at dance212.com.) The intensive will focus on studying pas de deux, variations and coda from popular classical ballets. The emphasis is meant to be particular helpful for dancers training for international competitions.
Audition: Sunday, February 27 at Alvin Ailey Studios in New York City
Registration opens at 4:30 and the audition will run from 5 to 7 pm.
Video/DVD auditions are accepted if you are unable to attend the live audition. Complete the registration online here.
When hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast on October 29, Colleen Cericola's Staten Island home, which she shared with her two children, was completely destroyed, along with all of her possessions. That same night, her neighbor Patricia Dresch, lost her husband George and her 13-year-old daughter Angela in the storm.
Ellison Ballet instructor Erin Forrest met the two families while volunteering to clean and salvage the remains of the Dresch home, and soon afterwards she convinced director Edward Ellison to turn this year's winter showcase into a gala benefit. This weekend, one hundred percent of the proceeds from the school's performances at Manhattan Movement and Arts Center will go to the two Staten Island families. Since transforming the show into a fundraising event, a number of high profile guest artists have signed up to donate their dancing: New York City Ballet's Gonzalo Garcia, Dance Theatre of Harlem's Michaela DePrince, 14-year-old wunderkind Aran Bell, as well as dancers from Juilliard, the Steps Repertory Ensemble, Manhattan Youth Ballet and the Gelsey Kirkland Academy. A silent auction will be held throughout the evening, and even if you can't make the show, you can still contribute by donating directly via PayPal. Find out more at ellisonballet.com.