Ballet Training
Boston Ballet's Dawn Atkins in Balanchine's Episodes. Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy Boston Ballet.

When Boston Ballet artist Dawn Atkins was a little girl, she set a goal: to be a principal dancer by age 21. More specifically, a principal at New York City Ballet. Atkins was a successful student, joining Boston Ballet School's trainee program in 2011. She moved up to Boston Ballet II the following year and was given a company contract in 2013. But it was after knee surgery in 2015 that Atkins completely changed her approach to dance goals. "I had to set small ones, like being able to plié on one leg," she remembers. "I learned that I had to be kind to myself and celebrate those little goals."

Goal setting can help you advance as a dancer and a person. But it's easy to overly focus on far-off accolades rather than on meaningful advancements that will take you to the next level. "One should aspire to have dreams, of course, but it is important to keep reality in perspective," advises Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School co-director Dennis Marshall. Instead of tethering yourself to a dream that is ultimately out of your control, you can learn to set goals that will feed your dance career and your confidence.

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Ballet Training
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Few turns make dancers more tempted to cheat than pirouettes from fifth, especially doubles. Colburn Dance Academy director Jenifer Ringer gives her tips for nailing them every time.


1. Have faith in your fifth: It's hard to trust that your fifth position will give you enough force to turn. As a result, Jenifer Ringer sees dancers "lean forward, stick their bottoms out or move their front legs so they're not really turning from fifth." Try practicing a clean single pirouette without cheating. "It takes figuring out," she acknowledges, but you'll add rotations "without losing the integrity of your technique."

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Since 2000, megastars and budding ballet celebrities alike have graced the covers of Pointe. Take a walk with us down memory lane as we recall some of the biggest names from some of our earliest issues. Whether they continue to perform or have transitioned to a position at the front of the studio, these stars have real staying power.

Irina Dvorovenko and Maxim Beloserkovsky (May/June 2001)

Then: Pegged as "Ballet's Hottest Couple" on our cover, the duo had recently joined American Ballet Theatre as principals.

Now: Though both have retired from ABT, they run a summer intensive in New York City, give limited performances as guest artists and have even designed items, like ballet booties, for Bloch. Dvorovenko also had a major role in the Starz's ballet drama "Flesh and Bone."

Svetlana Zakharova (July/August 2001)

Then: Zakharova was a young principal with the Mariinsky Ballet.

Now: She's still tantalizing audiences with her breathtaking performances of ballets like Swan Lake—but with the Bolshoi Ballet. Last year, Zakharova also became a guest artist with Bavarian State Ballet.

Tamara Rojo (November/December 2001)

Then: The Spanish dancer was a leading performer with The Royal Ballet.

Now: If someone can do it all, it's Rojo. She's currently balancing dual roles at English National Ballet as artistic director and principal dancer. Pointe even named her performance with Irek Mukhamedov in Annabelle Lopez Ochoa's Broken Wings one of the Standouts of 2016.

Misty Copeland (February/March 2002)

Then: Way before Misty Copeland became a household name, she scored her first Pointe cover as a promising member of ABT's corps.

Now: As ABT's first female African American principal, she's an all-around ballet superhero. Copeland has catapulted ballet into the mainstream and has championed issues like having a positive body image and diversity in dance.

Jenifer Ringer (April/May 2002)

Then: a leading principal at New York City Ballet

Now: Ringer traded East Coast for West when she became the director of the Colburn Dance Academy in L.A. If you're not one of her lucky students, you can read about her perspective in her memoir, Dancing Through It: My Journey in Ballet. And, just last year, she also spoke to Pointe about how dancers can foster confidence.

Carlos Acosta (August/September 2002)

Then: The international ballet star had loads of fans at The Royal Ballet, but Big Apple audiences were also getting acquainted with him since he'd recently appeared as a guest with ABT.

Now: He's busy leading his own company, Acosta Danza, in his native Cuba.

Paloma Herrera (December 2002/January 2003)

Then: The Argentinian dancer was wowing New York audiences as a principal at ABT.

Now: Earlier this month, Herrera became artistic director of Teatro Colón's ballet company in Buenos Aires. We can't wait to see what she does in her new position.

Ethan Stiefel (February/March 2003)

Then: Though he launched his professional career with NYCB, Stiefel was an ABT principal by the time he appeared on our cover.

Now: Stiefel had a short stint as artistic director of Royal New Zealand Ballet from 2011 to 2014, but now, he's focusing on choreographing. His first major choreographic commission will premiere in May at The Washington Ballet.

For more news on all things ballet, don't miss a single issue.

We had a hunch that when Jenifer Ringer retired earlier this month, she wasn't saying "goodbye" to dance at large. The former New York City Ballet principal (and author of Dancing Through It) will be moving to California to direct Colburn Dance Academy, a new pre-professional dance program formed by The Colburn School, a performing arts high school, and Benjamin Millepied's L.A. Dance Project. The Academy will have a rigorous classical ballet foundation, but students will also explore modern, contemporary and commercial styles, as well as art and music history. The program will take just 10–12 students for its 2014–15 year, but eventually grow to 24. Dancers ages 14–19 are eligible. Auditions have yet to be announced.

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