With her endless, eloquent legs and serene stage presence, Maria Kowroski is precisely what you would imagine a New York City Ballet principal to be. At 7 years old, the Michigan native started studying at the School of Grand Rapids Ballet, and as a teenager she went on to train at NYC’s School of American Ballet. Kowroski’s hard work and commitment to the Balanchine technique paid off when she became a NYCB apprentice in 1994. That same year, she won a prestigious Princess Grace Award, an honor granted to outstanding emerging artists. Kowroski was invited to join the NYCB corps in 1995 and made a quick rise through the ranks, becoming a principal just four years later. Today, the long, lithe ballerina continues to impress audiences in Balanchine works like Prodigal Son, “Rubies” from Jewels and Agon. Don’t miss her as the Sugar Plum Fairy in NYCB’s Nutcracker, opening November 26th at Lincoln Center. —Katie Rolnick
To My Younger Self,
We strive for perfection as artists, but please don’t obsess over it. Be gentler on yourself. You may get frustrated because you want to be better, stronger or able to do things the way someone else does. You may suffer injuries that feel like the end of the world. But you will soon realize that those struggles are what help you grow. And though there are dancers who inspire you, remember that you are a unique individual. Your gift is precious and unlike that of any other dancer.
Educate yourself by attending the theater, reading books and visiting museums. Take all that life has offered you and let it enhance you as an artist. Be kind to yourself and to everyone around you, and you will receive the respect you desire. Enjoy your time onstage, for that is a very special opportunity that so few experience. But remember that you have a lot of life yet to live, and this is only one chapter in a long book.
Finally, take time for yourself, write in your journal and remain peaceful. Life as a ballerina can seem very glamorous, but it’s also hectic, so it’s important to stay centered.
Love and angels,
Photos from top to bottom: Maria Kowroski in George Balanchine’s Serenade by Paul Kolnik; Maria Kowroski at the School of American Ballet in 1993 by Howard Hensel.