Gabriella Stilo photographed by Erin Baiano
Gabriella Stilo’s ballet technique is beautifully polished: Her grands jetés seem to float through the air, her pirouettes are perfectly timed to the music and her endless extensions epitomize classical purity. But it’s her artistic approach that convinces you she’s on her way to true ballerina status. “I love ballet for the acting,” says the 15-year-old. “I’ve been trained by Cubans my whole life, and that tradition focuses a lot on technique. But I really like to portray a character onstage and inhabit the role, too.”
Gabriella lives in Tampa, FL, but trains at the Sarasota Cuban Ballet School in Sarasota, FL, an hour-long commute each way. She’s homeschooled to accommodate her intense schedule, which consists of five to six hours of class each day—and that’s when she doesn’t have a competition on the horizon. “We do a mix of technique, pointe, variations and partnering, along with core strengthening,” she says. “I take a modern or contemporary class once or twice a week, but I’m 100 percent focused on ballet.”
That focus has paid off: In 2014, Gabriella won the gold medal in the pas de deux category at the Youth America Grand Prix finals in NYC and placed in the Top 12 in the Junior Women’s Division. She was also chosen as the Grishko Model Search winner. “I like competitions because they get you noticed,” says Gabriella. “And I just love the opportunities to perform. If I could, I’d perform every day.”
Gabriella has only recently recovered from a stress reaction in her foot. She missed audition season due to her injury, so she plans to train at her home studio this summer. “I think it was my body’s way of telling me to rest,” she says. Now that she’s back in class, Gabriella will continue to pursue her goals with her usual discipline. “I’m obsessed with American Ballet Theatre,” she says. “I love the elegance of classical ballet. And some day I’d like to dance the title role in Giselle, or Juliet in Romeo and Juliet. That’s been my dream since I was little.”
“Gabriella is a star in the making. Her potential is very clear. She’s always giving 100 percent and her desire to be onstage drives her to be who she is. When she performs, she gives everything she has—her soul.” —Ariel Serrano, co-founder of the Sarasota Cuban Ballet School
Birthday: September 28, 1999
Favorite food: Frozen yogurt
Favorite dance movie: Center Stage. “It’s a classic.”
Adagio or petit allégro? Petit allégro
Contemporary or classical? “Classical. But I do love Wayne McGregor’s choreography.”
Dance idol: “Maria Kochetkova. She’s flawless. And Christina Ricucci, because she’s so strong and sweet.”
Hidden talent: “I’m a great cook. I cook dinner for my family and prepare my food for ballet.”
Dream pas de deux partners: Daniel Ulbricht, Marcelo Gomes and Daniil Simkin
Most cherished thing in her dance bag: “A card I received from a very close classmate. It has lots of nice things written on it.”
If she weren’t a dancer, she’d be… “An actor!”
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 email@example.com 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?