The Inside Scoop From "Breaking Pointe" Star Katie Martin
By now you're probably addicted to the new ballet reality show "Breaking Pointe," which follows Ballet West. In the first episode our hearts broke as we watched Ballet West II dancer Katie Martin learn she wouldn't receive a company contract for the 2012-2013 season. As is usual with ballet contracts, she'll be finishing out the current season with Ballet West. But don't expect her to be moping around on "Breaking Pointe"--you'll see her auditioning and bouncing back. We caught up with Katie to learn more about what it's like to star in one of the summer's hottest shows.
Dance Spirit: What was filming like?
Katie Martin: Filming was really cool. You feel like a celebrity because there are at least three cameras on you at all times. I’ve gained a pretty large fan base, and they’ve been really supportive.
DS: Do you feel like you have been accurately portrayed on the show?
KM: The producers have done a fantastic job portraying who I am and what I stand for--especially how I’ve handled a lot of difficult situations.
DS: Did you have any idea that you wouldn't receive a contract?
KM: I didn't know anything officially, but I had a gut feeling that I might not get one. What you saw on TV was me finding out for the first time.
DS: What has it been like to go through this difficult time on TV?
KM: It's so hard! I cried with my mom watching the first episode. We both sat on the couch with a box of tissues. But I feel like all the press interviews have been really helpful. They've been like a bunch of "dear diary" moments. I've been forced to talk about the experience and how I've really been feeling.
DS: Do you think "Breaking Pointe" is an accurate portrayal of what it's like to be in a ballet company?
KM: "Breaking Pointe" does a great job showing America that ballet dancers are true athletes who work very hard. Of course, everyday life isn't as dramatic as the show, but when you're creating a television episode and all the filming is packed into one hour, it gets that way. Plus, ballet is a dramatic art. It's all about beating out every girl in the room.
DS: What has the audition process been like?
KM: It’s been really difficult—it’s not something any ballerina ever wants to go through. I was gone almost every weekend auditioning! I can’t talk about the outcome of the auditions at the moment, but it was ultimately a positive experience.
DS: How has the show affected your relationships with the other dancers?
KM: Thankfully I’ve been portrayed very nicely (I promise I really am a nice person!), but if anything my relationships have gotten stronger. It’s been really positive for [my boyfriend] Ron and me. It’s fun to hear him talk about me on the show, and we’ve gotten closer from seeing on screen how we actually feel about each other. Becks [Beckanne Sisk] is still my best friend and Ron’s still my boy.
DS: What is your dream role?
KM: Odette/Odile in Swan Lake or Juliet in Romeo and Juliet. I love a tragedy!
DS: Where do you hope to be in five years?
KM: I hope to be at least a soloist in a major ballet company. And I would love to be in Europe. I want to have built a substantial ballet career.
DS: What's your advice for Dance Spirit readers who aspire to professional ballet careers?
KM: My advice is to keep plugging away. You need to be able to look in the mirror at the end of each day and say, "I am beautiful. I can conquer anything. I can do this." Don't lose your confidence.
DS: Do you have an acting career ahead of you?
KM: I would love to have an acting career! No one's contacted me yet, but I would definitely be interested. Be sure to put that in.
What's more daunting than getting into your dream college dance program? Figuring out how you'll cover the costs of tuition, room and board, incidental expenses and more. Here's the good news: The right scholarship(s) can bring your dream school well within reach.
Look Around, Look Around
Scholarship applications are due between the fall of senior year and graduation time, so familiarize yourself with funding opportunities during the spring of junior year. And there are a lot of opportunities out there, says Kate Walker, chair of dance at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas, TX. "A lot of school guidance counselors now have software that automatically matches you with scholarships," she says.
Seek out scholarships on your own, too. According to Walker, "a lot of corporations are required to have some community engagement, including offering scholarships, so research corporations in your community." Your parents' employers might offer assistance too, says Doug Long, an academic and college counselor at Interlochen Arts Academy in Interlochen, MI. "They might have scholarships you can apply for just because your parent works there."
Other sources of grant money you won't have to pay back (as you would a loan)? The YoungArts Foundation; competitions/conventions, like New York City Dance Alliance; and the university or dance department you're applying to. Even some scholarships aimed at athletes are open to dancers!
A winning scholarship application involves a fair amount of paperwork, especially if the organization requires you to show financial need. In addition, certain scholarships ask for the College Board's CSS/Financial Aid Profile, which gives the awarding organization a more complete picture of your family finances.
Other ingredients of a successful scholarship application include recommendation letters, a dance and/or academic resumé and an essay or statement of purpose. Treat these components just like college applications: Have multiple trusted adults proofread your materials, and ask for recommendation letters or transcripts long before deadlines.
A note for non-dance scholarships: Including objective measures of achievement can only help you. "List national recognitions, like YoungArts or other competitions," says Long. "That shows the scholarship committees that people at high levels have acknowledged you as an artist of quality." And don't forget who your audience is. "Especially in writing samples, make sure you paint a vivid picture for your reader," Walker says. "Don't assume they know about all the things—like barre every day—that we as dancers take for granted."
No award amount is too small to be worth your time and effort. As Walker says, "Don't pooh-pooh a couple hundred dollars in award money, because any scholarship is funding that you didn't have yesterday."
A version of this story appeared in the July/August 2017 issue of Dance Spirit with the title "All Aboard the Scholar-ship."
Every ballet dancer knows the time, sweat, and occasional tears the art form demands. But many non-dancers are clueless about just how much work a ballet dancer puts into perfecting his or her dancing. So when the mainstream crowd recognizes our crazy work ethic, we'll accept the round of applause any way it comes—even if it comes via four men in tutus. Yep, we're talking about "The Try Guys Try Ballet" video.
Remember that fabulous old-school clip of dancers tapping in pointe shoes that Tabitha and Napoleon D'umo brought to our attention back in March? As we mentioned then, toe-tap dancing was actually super popular back in the 1920s and 30s—which means there are more videos where that one came from. And because #ToeTapTuesday has a nice ring to it, we thought we'd take this opportunity to introduce you to Dick and Edith Barstow, a toe-tapping brother and sister duo from that era who are nothing short of incredible:
Guess who's back? Back again? The Academy's back! Tell a friend.
After one day at The Academy, the All Stars have successfully taken the Top 100 down to 62. But their work is just getting started: Now they need to keep narrowing the field to a Top 10, ultimately deciding who each will partner with during the live shows.
We've said it before and we'll say it again: New York City Ballet principal Sara Mearns is some SERIOUS #goals. Her strength and power onstage borders on superhuman. But what's extra magical about Mearns is that she really puts in the fitness and cross-training work outside of the rehearsal studio. And she's overcome her fair share of injuries. Which is why she was the perfect source for Vogue's latest ballet fitness story.