Well, I have been home for about three weeks now, and I have had plenty of time to reflect on the five weeks I spent at The School of American Ballet Summer Course 2013 in New York City. I have thought about what I learned while I was at SAB, what I took away from my experience, and how my time there will help me as an aspiring ballerina. I am grateful for the time I spent at SAB and everything I learned, and even though is was only five weeks, it had a huge impact on me.
The School of American Ballet Summer Course 2013 was definitely one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I spent five weeks immersed in the Balanchine style (which was new to me), taking classes from incredible teachers who were both former (Peter Martins, Kay Mazzo, Suki Schorer, Susan Pilarre, Darci Kistler, Jock Soto, Katrina Killian, Yvonne Borree) and current (Megan Fairchild, Ashley Bouder, Abi Stafford, and Jonathan Stafford) New York City Ballet principal dancers. I was thrilled to be placed in the highest level and was honored to be selected by Troy Schumacher to dance in the Summer Choreographic Workshop. I learned several variations from the vast Balanchine repertoire. I made lots of great, new friends from all over the country, many of whom I keep in contact with on almost a daily basis. I developed a special connection and friendship with Ashley Laracey, current NYCB soloist, and we have had many conversations since I have been home. Ashley has become an amazing friend who gives me support, encouragement, advice, and insight. I had the chance to see professional ballets (including New York City Ballet in Saratoga) and Broadway musicals, go on tours and visit museums, and explore parts of New York City I hadn’t seen before. I also enjoyed a sense of freedom (as well as maturity and responsibility) that goes along with living away from home.
I realize how lucky I am to have been able to attend The School of American Ballet Summer Course 2013 since over 2000 dancers audition for the summer course each year and only 200 are selected to attend. Spending five weeks at SAB confirmed that a career in ballet is definitely what I want to pursue and New York City is where I want to be. During my time there, I learned a lot about the Balanchine style and a lot about myself as a dancer. I learned how important a deep plié, musicality, and a connection to the music are. I learned that I can move faster than I thought I could to perform the sharp, quick movements that are trademarks of the Balanchine style. I learned that I need to be confident in myself and my abilities when I am in a class full of dancers who are older and more experienced than I am. I know my time at the School of American Ballet and everything I experienced there will help me continue to grow as a dancer.
I brought a lot home with me from New York City, both literally and figuratively. Along with the souvenirs of my summer and many pairs of dead pointe shoes, I also brought home with me invaluable knowledge and experience, amazing memories, and incredible friendships I hope will last forever. Five weeks was not long enough, and I was definitely not ready for it to end, but I am grateful for the time I had at the School of American Ballet. I think about my experience and miss it everyday, but I know, in the words of Winnie the Pooh, “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”