Ballet Stars
Jennifer Lauren in front of Miami City Ballet. Photo by Lilly Echeverria for Pointe.

Photographed by Lilly Echeverria.

Ask Miami City Ballet's Jennifer Lauren if she feels any different now that she's a principal, and she'll quickly say no. "I'm still the same dancer I was 10 years ago when I joined the company," says Lauren, who was promoted at the end of last season. "I'm still working harder than ever." She does feel that people are watching her more closely now, though. "Kids in the school peek in the window all day," she says. "I need to make sure I set an example."

In some ways, Miami City Ballet has been a second chapter in her career. Lauren, 36, had previously danced with the unranked Alabama Ballet, where over the course of eight seasons she was frequently cast in leading roles. Since joining MCB as a corps member in 2007, she's had to slowly work her way back up. "My career has taken me up and down and sideways," she says. "It's nice to have the recognition that comes with being a principal. Although if you asked me to dance in the corps tomorrow I would do it, gladly."

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News
Julia Cinquemani in Los Angeles Ballet's The Sleeping Beauty. Photo by Reed Hutchinson, Courtesy of Los Angeles Ballet.

Miami City Ballet just announced their official roster for the 2017-18 season, including some exciting additions to and promotions within the company. The new season, which starts on Oct. 20 in Miami, consists of a 53-member roster that was made complete thanks to six new dancers and the return of former longtime MCB dancer Katia Carranza.

Carranza will be returning to the rank of principal, a spot that she previously held from 2004 until 2007 before joining Ballet de Monterrey as a principal dancer. Other promotions for the upcoming season include Jennifer Lauren to principal, Lauren Fadeley to principal soloist and Ashley Knox to soloist.

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After combing the Pointe archives for some much-needed New Year's resolution #inspo, I found these gems from 2012: Five professional dancers on what they hope to accomplish in the new year. Their thoughts are as applicable now as they were then. Enjoy!

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Each summer, dance companies descend upon the Windy City for the Chicago Dancing Festival. But this year's event is extra special, since Miami City Ballet and Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre will be making their debuts. Pointe spoke with MCB's recently promoted principal soloist Jennifer Lauren as she prepared to dance in the corps of Balanchine's Allegro Brillante.

Allegro Brillante is a notoriously fast and difficult ballet. What is your approach?
We all realize what a privilege it is to do any of George Balanchine's ballets, especially Allegro. That pumps me up for the beginning--the curtain rises while we're already dancing. You just get shot out of a cannon. I try not to let the physicality of the steps and how fast it is get to me. If you just let it happen, it's hard to get distracted by how tired you are. When I look over at my friend or my partner and see that they're having a wonderful time, it's very uplifting. We encourage each other with our eyes.

Which roles would you like to dance in the future?
I have to say all of them. Whatever rehearsal I'm called to, that's my favorite part at the moment. Whether I'm in one of the four couples in Allegro or I'm the principal in some other ballet, it's the same satisfying feeling. If I had to name some roles, I would love to do the principal lady in Balanchine's La Source, "Rubies," the principal in Theme and Variations and anything by Justin Peck. I've already done Aurora and Giselle, but if we ever brought those back I would love, love, love to do them again.

What advice would you offer for dancers who are new to Balanchine?
I used to dance with the Alabama Ballet, which is a classical company, so when I moved to Miami, I had to make that transition. Having an open mind is definitely number one. Whenever an exercise would come up, I'd ask myself, Why is this important? And I'd apply it to the Balanchine choreography. That helped me understand why the technique is so different. Also, don't lose what you had before; just add to your technique and then you'll be a more well-rounded dancer.
Lauren in Balanchine's Raymonda Variations. Photo by Daniel Azoulay, Courtesy MCB.
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Miami City Ballet is celebrating its 30th anniversary this coming season, and what better way to kick it off than by announcing promotions and company additions? One exciting new face is Simone Messmer, a former soloist with American Ballet Theatre and San Francisco Ballet, who joins MCB as a principal dancer. Jennifer Lauren, a soloist since 2011, has been promoted to principal soloist, while corps members Emily Bromberg and Jovani Furlan, who performed the title roles together in John Cranko’s Romeo and Juliet last season, are joining the soloist ranks. And if you’ve been watching Teen Vogue’s online reality series “Strictly Ballet 2,” you’ll be happy to know that two of its stars, Ella Titus and Mayumi Enokibara, received corps de ballet contracts.

 

In addition to its usual performances in Miami, Naples and West Palm Beach, the company plans to celebrate its anniversary with a tour Chicago, Minneapolis and New York City next spring.

Poised and professional: Miami City Ballet's Jennifer Lauren. Photo by D. Azoulay, Courtesy MCB.

During my years as a principal with San Francisco Ballet and Pennsylvania Ballet, it made me cringe if new corps members pulled out their phones to text or tweet. It felt unprofessional in the middle of class, but it was especially disrespectful during rehearsal, even if they weren't involved in the scene being danced.

Something like checking your phone in the studio may not seem like a big deal, but small mistakes like these add up. If you're not careful, you could offend other dancers, or worse, send the wrong message to the artistic staff. The transition from star student to new corps member can be difficult to navigate, but don't start off your first year with an unprofessional impression. Even little things could jeopardize your success.

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