21 Quick Questions with Allison DeBona
Ballet West's Allison DeBona first became a major figure on the pop-culture scene with her stint on The CW series “Breaking Pointe." Her ethereal grace and commanding stage presence have kept her there since. DeBona trained with the Parou Ballet Company (now New Castle Regional Ballet) in New Castle, PA, and the Pittsburgh Youth Ballet while growing up. She later attended Indiana University and graduated with a bachelor's degree in ballet before joining Ballet West in 2007. In 2011 she was promoted to demi-soloist, was given the soloist title in 2013 and, finally, was named first soloist in 2015. Catch her next month in the company's production of Madame Butterfly, and read on for The Dirt!
Go-to stress reliever?
Cleaning! Believe it or not!
Who's your dance role model?
I admire Stella Abrera. I always thought she was so beautiful. When she finally got promoted to principal at American Ballet Theatre it proved there is no limit to a career. Love her! Also, I think The Royal Ballet's Marianela Nuñez is so beautiful!
What's the most played song on your playlist?
Anything Maroon 5!
What's something no one knows about you?
I love football, particularly the Pittsburgh Steelers, more than ballet.
What's something that can always make you laugh?
My family. It's like a traveling circus!
What's one food you can't live without?
Do you have any nicknames?
Alli, Alli-Cat and Bones!
What's something you're most proud of?
I co-founded the artÉmotion Summer Intensive with Ballet in the City in 2015. We had 70 students year one. Our 2016 program grew to 115 students and we have intensives in Cleveland and Detroit. So proud!
If you could go anywhere in the world where would you go?
Iceland or Greenland
What's the strangest thing in your dance bag?
Most of the time it's the old banana that I forget about! A weekly science project.
Do you have any pre-performance superstitions or habits?
I take a warm shower and a B-complex vitamin.
Do you have any pets?
Yes! A shih tzu named Zipper Fly. We also had a chocolate lab named Colby Clarease, but she passed in November. I miss her dearly.
Who's your dance crush?
[Ballet West principal] Rex Tilton, of course! ☺
Do you have a favorite workout?
I love to run and lift weights. Always have, too. Even though people try to tell me it's “not good for dancers." Not true!
Where do you feel the happiest?
At home with my fiancé, Rex Tilton (Ballet West, principal), and our little doggie, Zipper Fly! I love them!!
What's your favorite movie?
Who would play you in a movie?
Definitely some kind of witch. I love creepy things!
Have you had any embarrassing moments onstage?
Not that I can think of. But, now I wonder if I'm jinxing myself!
What's your biggest piece of advice for other young performers?
Don't bother with being nervous. You'll only let precious moments onstage pass you by. Live in the good and bad moments onstage. It's all art, regardless. People will always appreciate your work, even if you don't appreciate it yourself sometimes.
What's one thing you'd consider yourself an expert at?
I'm a good problem solver.
Do you have any guilty pleasures?
I love watching sports. Sunday football games are my favorite! I love hockey and baseball, too!
Misty Copeland. Her name is synonymous with exquisite artistry and outspoken advocacy. And her visibility has made a huge impact on the ballet world. Ballet's relationship with race has always been strained at best, hostile at worst. But Copeland's persistent message and star quality have finally forced the ballet industry to start talking about racial diversity, inclusivity, and representation. "The rarity of seeing ourselves represented is sad," Copeland says. "The more we see every hue and body shape represented on the stage, the more possibilities young dancers feel they have for themselves."
"Whole, low-fat, or skim?" The question of which milk to drink has gotten a little more complicated lately, with a wide variety of nondairy milks popping up in grocery stores. To find out which ones are worth your milk money, we had registered dietitian Monika Saigal answer some FAQs.
Yesterday, the dance community was heartbroken to learn that Jaime Guttenberg and Cara Loughran, both 14-year-old dancers, were among the 17 people killed on Valentine's Day in the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL.
American Ballet Theatre principal Sarah Lane charms audiences with her bright energy and crisp technique. The San Francisco, CA, native first started dancing at age 4 at a local community center, and at age 7 started training in Memphis, TN, at the Classical Ballet Memphis. Her family later moved to Rochester, NY, where she continued studying at the Draper Center for Dance Education. In 2002, she was a YoungArts Foundation winner in dance, allowing her to become a U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts. She joined American Ballet Theatre as an apprentice in 2003, was made a soloist in 2007, and was promoted to principal last fall. Recently, she originated the role of Princess Praline in Alexei Ratmansky's Whipped Cream. Catch her later this spring during ABT's Metropolitan Opera season. —Courtney Bowers
You and I both know that dancing is the best thing since chocolate chip cookies! But its always nice when dance gets the recognition it deserves from non–dance-world peeps. That's why we did our own happy dance when we saw Shape magazine's article on how dancing can actually make you a better athlete.
When Ruby Castro became a Top 10 finalist on "So You Think You Can Dance" Season 13, she was a fresh, feisty new face to most at-home viewers. But in the dance world—particularly on the ballroom circuit—Ruby was already a household name. Miami-based Ruby grew up as a belle of the ballroom: Her parents, Manny and Lory Castro, are veritable superstars of the scene. They're the owners of Dance Town, an ultra-competitive studio in Doral, FL, and raised Ruby to follow in their furiously fast footsteps. Before she graced the "SYT" stage, Ruby had already been named a U.S. Junior Champion in Latin Ballroom, and competed on "America's Got Talent"—twice!
So, we know she's talented, we know she's versatile, we know she's stunning, and we know she can dance. But here's what you may not know about Ruby.
You know that thing when you're onstage at a competition and you catch your teacher unconsciously marking through every step of the choreography in the wings, just willing you and the rest of the group to dance perfectly?
Yeah—that happens in ice dancing, too. Case in point: the scene at the Olympic rink yesterday, as Canadian ice-dancing legends Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir skated their way to their third Olympic gold.
Obviously, their performance was all kinds of epic. But the off-ice "performance" given by their coach, Marie-France Dubreuil, was EVERYTHING.
Photo by Travis Kelley, courtesy Kathryn Morgan
In our "Dear Katie" series, former NYCB soloist Kathryn Morgan answers your pressing dance questions. Have something you want to ask Katie? Email firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance to be featured!
I want to dance in a ballet company, but I'm insecure about my body. I'm not skinny, and I don't think I ever will be, because that's just not the way I'm built. Please be honest with me: If I don't have the traditional ballet body, do I have a future in professional ballet?