What It's Really Like to Dance with the ABT Studio Company
Léa Fleytoux in ABT Studio Company class (photo by Kyle Froman)
For an aspiring ballerina, there's no more exciting place to be than the ABT Studio Company, the pre-professional arm of American Ballet Theatre. The NYC-based troupe of 16- to 20-year-old dancers trains hard and performs harder, putting on multiple shows over the course of each season. We followed ensemble member Léa Fleytoux, a gifted 18-year-old from Paris, France, on a performance day to get an inside look at what it's like to live the Studio Company life.
All photos by Kyle Froman.
1. Fleytoux's day began, as usual, with class, led by Studio Company artistic director Kate Lydon. "At this point, I was really excited about the show that night," Fleytoux says. "But I tried to relax so I wouldn't tire myself out too much."
2. Before heading to the theater, the company squeezed in some last-minute rehearsing. "I went through my solo part in Raymonda, and a little bit of the new work Liam Scarlett choreographed for us, Untitled," Fleytoux says. "I was focused on setting the tempo for my Raymonda variation, and on fixing my balance."
3. Fleytoux took the subway uptown to the Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College with her boyfriend, fellow Studio Company member Jarod Curley. "We enjoy having so much time together," she says. "It's always a pleasure to talk with him about ballet—and not ballet!"
4. On the train, Fleytoux texted friends and family members who'd sent her birthday wishes. "My birthday was the day before!" she says. "I also listened to pop music, which always gives me energy."
5. Onstage at the Kaye, Fleytoux worked with Studio Company ballet master Sascha Radetsky on a tricky lift from Scarlett's piece.
6. The Studio Company did a little team-building exercise before the show. "We wished each other good luck, and it helped us to relax," Fleytoux says.
Fleytoux and the Studio Company in "Untitled"
7. Showtime! Fleytoux performed in an excerpt from Raymonda, Ethan Stiefel's See the Youth Advance!, and Scarlett's Untitled. "I had so much fun, especially doing my solo in Raymonda," she says. "It's very hard technically, but I love the music, so I can let it carry me through."
The end of of Fleytoux's "Raymonda" solos
8. As she took her last bows, Fleytoux "felt a little bit melancholy knowing that the show was done," she says. "But the atmosphere with everyone onstage was wonderful. It was a moment of happiness."
A version of this story appeared in the September 2017 issue of Dance Spirit with the title "Living That #BalletLife."
Gabriel Figueredo in a variation from Raymonda. VAM Productions, Courtesy YAGP.
This week, over 1,000 young hopefuls gathered in New York City for the Youth America Grand Prix finals, giving them the chance to compete for scholarships and contracts to some of the world's top ballet schools and companies. Roughly 85 dancers made it to the final round at Lincoln Center's David H. Koch Theater on Wednesday. Today, the 20th anniversary of YAGP came to a close at the competition's awards ceremony. Read on to find out who won!
After a string of ballet-company rejections, Jennifer Sydor (here in Laura Peterson's "Failure") found success in other areas of the dance world. (Stephen Delas Heras, courtesy Jennifer Sydor)
In her senior year at Butler University, Jennifer Sydor auditioned for more than a dozen regional ballet companies—and got a string of "no, thank you" responses. "I have an athletic build, and my movement quality isn't the typical ballet aesthetic," Sydor says. "But I'd been laser-focused on ballet. When I didn't get a ballet contract, I was heartbroken."
Her one job offer came from Kim Robards Dance, a small modern company based in Aurora, CO. After attending KRD's summer intensive, Sydor ended up accepting a yearlong position with the troupe. "I was relieved and happy to begin my career," she says. She's been working as a contemporary dancer ever since.
In the dance world, rejection is part of the package. That doesn't make it any more pleasant. But whether you didn't get the Nutcracker role of your dreams or you weren't picked for a job despite feeling like you aced the audition, you can emerge from even the most gut-wrenching "no" smarter and stronger.
Ballet West principal Beckanne Sisk as Kitri (Luke Isley, courtesy Ballet West)
Guess who's baaaaack?! Your resident Dance Spirit astrologers! And on the eve of the Youth America Grand Prix awards ceremony, we thought it was the perfect time to pair each zodiac sign with a variation commonly seen during the competition. After many painstaking hours spent researching, consulting the stars, and staring wistfully into the sky, we compiled our data and present you with the definitive list of each star sign as a YAGP variation! As we said last time, don't @ us if you're not happy with your pairing—the stars don't lie, baby!