Fairy-like and technically flawless, Larissa Ponomarenko is a ballerina’s ballerina. She began her studies at the Vaganova Ballet Academy in St. Petersburg, Russia, winning third prize at the first Vaganova Ballet Competition in 1988, and went on to join the Donetsk Ballet Company in her native Ukraine. After brief stints as a guest artist with Tulsa Ballet and Ballet Mississippi, Larissa landed at Boston Ballet in 1993. Since then she has become one of Boston’s most beloved ballerinas, dancing nearly every principal role in the company’s repertoire. Her nuanced interpretation of Marguerite in Val Caniparoli’s Lady of the Camellias even won her a nomination for the International Ballet Prize at Benois de la Danse in 2005. —Margaret Fuhrer
I would like to start by saying, “Thank you.”
Though I consider myself a modest person, I must admit you are a very good student (the kind of student I would wish to work with if I were to move into the field of teaching). You are obedient and self-disciplined, absorbing details and attentive to corrections. You never miss class, and you take good care of your body. You spend a lot of time in the theater watching all the classical ballets in the Kirov repertory. Your analysis of the interpretations of different dancers has helped me become the artist I am today.
All of it, in combination, I believe, allows you to get the most out of the great training your ballet school [the Vaganova Academy in St. Petersburg, Russia] has to offer. This is why I would like to express my gratitude to you, my student self.
But I do wish that you would be more daring and confident in everything. It wouldn’t hurt to be more curious about different genres and forms of art—to explore more outside of the ballet. And find the time to continue your piano lessons! You don’t have much interest in it now, but you have talent and that is precious.
Finally, I want you to add more of a sense of humor and laughter to all your hard work, to love yourself, and to live every minute of your life to the fullest.
16-year-old Larissa performing the Bluebird variation from The Sleeping Beauty at the Vaganova Academy. Photo: courtesy of Boston Ballet
It's time to get your pirouette on! From September 5th to September 30th, we're hosting a contest to find out who's the best turner of them all.
Put together your most impressive turning combo. Post a video online. Share your turns with us and thousands of other dancers around the world. And if our editors think you're the top turner, you'll win a fabulous prize.
All of 18-year-old Kaylin Maggard's dreams—from scoring the title of National Senior Outstanding Dancer at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals to winning the 2017 Dance Spirit Cover Model Search—are coming true. And to anyone who knows the gorgeous contemporary dancer, that's no surprise.
From the moment the Dance Spirit staff met Kaylin, it was obvious her humility and talent would take her far. Not only did she go full-out during the photo shoot and class at Broadway Dance Center, but she was always cheering on, laughing with, and supporting her fellow CMS contestants Haley Hartsfield and Michelle Quiner. During the voting period, the social media world was abuzz with praise for her work ethic, positive attitude, and generosity.
Since her CMS trip to NYC, Kaylin's moved from her hometown of Columbia, MO, to the Big Apple for her freshman year at Juilliard, and is busy getting acquainted with the city. As for the future? She's taking it one opportunity at a time, but something tells us we'll be seeing this contemporary queen reach new heights every year.
New York City principal Lauren Lovette has become an icon thanks to her emotional maturity and exceptional musicality. The 26-year-old quickly rose through the ranks after joining the company as an apprentice in 2009, reaching principal status in 2015. A Thousand Oaks, CA, native, Lovette started studying ballet seriously at age 11, at the Cary Ballet Conservatory in Cary, NC. After attending two summer courses at the School of American Ballet, she enrolled as a full-time student in 2006. Last year, she made her choreographic debut with For Clara, her first piece for NYCB. Catch her latest work this month during the company's fall season. —Courtney Bowers
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 know I'm not getting good enough dance training from any of my local studios. But I'm not sure I'm ready to move away to study at a big-name school, either. How do you know when you're ready to leave home to pursue your passion?
Instagram star Kylie Shea has built a following of nearly 170,000 with her playful workout videos, which combine traditional fitness activities, like jumping rope or running on the treadmill, with pointe shoes and sassy choreography. Shea's effortless cool-girl-next-door vibe and solid ballet technique make her vids totally irresistible.
Now Shea's using her platform to address the body image issues that tend to plague dancers. In a poignant video, she sheds her clothes and tugs at her skin. The caption explains her relationship with her body and the pressure she feels to maintain a certain aesthetic as a dancer.
Physical discomfort is inevitable when you're spending tons of hours in the studio every day, but some pain shouldn't be suffered through. "Dancing through pain can make an injury worse and lead to more time away from dance," says Dr. Joel Brenner, medical director of dance medicine at Children's Hospital of The King's Daughters in Norfolk, VA. "Failing to rest and recover when you're in serious pain could even lead to the point where you're unable to dance in the future."
That may sound scary, but there's good news: If you take precautions and listen to your body, many injuries can be stopped in their tracks. The first step? Knowing what's normal—and what's not.
Think about it: How often do you see a ballet pas de deux for two women? Almost never, right? Sometimes, choreographers will forgo the traditional danseur-ballerina pas to make a duet for two guys, since they can lift and partner each other easily. But a dance for two ballerinas is a rare thing.
That's part of what makes "Duet," a new video by director Andrew Margetson featuring Royal Ballet beauties Yasmin Naghdi and Beatriz Stix-Brunell, so compelling.