ABT's Isabella Boylston

After a year and a half in ABT Studio Company, Isabella Boylston, 19, is making her professional debut. As one of only two dancers selected to apprentice with American Ballet Theatre for its eight-week spring Met engagement, she had a whirlwind season, dancing a different ballet every week and learning choreography at lightning speed. But her hard work paid off: Halfway through the season, at the end of June, Artistic Director Kevin McKenzie handed her a corps de ballet contract.

 

If ABT is high society, then the Studio Company is finishing school, where dancers learn how to tour, read schedules, be confident onstage and apply corrections quickly. But in the corps, the pace picks up. Whereas the Studio Company often performs works choreographed specifically for its dancers, which gives them the benefit of learning together, apprentices in the corps are usually the only ones in the company who haven’t already danced the season’s ballets. “You sit in the back and watch, and then you’re thrown in,” says Boylston of her first few corps rehearsals. “Really, I found it best to be thrown in, because you’re forced to be aware of your spacing.”

 

Among her many roles, Boylston performed in the ensemble of harlots in Manon, as one of Pasha’s wives in Le Corsaire, and in Petrouchka, her first Stravinsky work. “Everything is your responsibility; you go to the stage manager and ask for a video of whatever production [you’ll be in] and then watch it on your own time,” Boylston says. “There’s [also] a lot of peer corrections—a lot of times the ballet mistresses have so much to look at, you learn from the people around letting you know what you’re doing wrong.”

 

A highlight was getting to dance the Vision—an apparition of Odette who appears in Act III of Swan Lake to try to prevent Siegfried from pledging his love to Odile. To prepare, Boylston enlisted the help of principal Gillian Murphy, who also danced the Vision when she first joined the company. Murphy coached Boylston on how to initiate arm movement from her back to create a more winged effect. “I look up to Gillian so much,” Boylston says. “The principals set such good examples for us. I’m impressed just to be near them and [to be] watching them in class.” After the first Swan Lake dress rehearsal, McKenzie also gave Boylston feedback: “I was flapping too fast, and Kevin told me to take my time. [I was] actually [onstage] a lot longer than I expected!”

Latest Posts


Because there's never been a better time to binge-watch "Bunheads" (via Freeform)

5 of the Danciest TV Shows Streaming Right Now (and Where to Stream Them)

We're about two months into #SocialDisDancing, and let's be real—while we all wish we were spending every spare minute stretching, cross-training, or taking online classes, sometimes we just need to Netflix and chill.

We figure, if you're going to be watching TV anyways, why not make it dancy TV? After all, watching pros dance on-screen is basically dance class homework...or at least we'll say it is. Here are five of the danciest TV shows for you to watch—and where to find them.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Larry Saperstein on "High School Musical: The Musical: The Series" (Disney+/Fred Hayes)

Celebrate National Tap Dance Day with "HSM" Star Larry Saperstein

Happy National Tap Dance Day, friends! We're marking the occasion by catching up with one of our favorite talented young tappers: Larry Saperstein. The "High School Musical: The Musical: The Series" star began taking tap classes at 12 years old, studying at the American Tap Dance Foundation, where he quickly discovered his love for the art. These days, he's putting his skills to good use as Big Red on "HSMTMTS." (Who could forget that iconic moment at the end of season one where he broke out into a tap routine that shook us all!)

We chatted with Larry about why he loves tap so much, and why the art form needs more and better representation in the dance world (and the world world).

Keep Reading SHOW LESS

2020 Dance Grads: We Want to Put You on Our Cover!

Hello, all you members of the great Dance Class of 2020. With the world on lockdown, this hasn't been the graduation season you expected. You likely weren't able to go to prom; your commencement ceremonies have probably been delayed or canceled; and you might not have been able to take your planned-for final bow onstage.

Since you're missing out on so much, we'd like to give you a virtual ovation, to recognize all you've accomplished. And what's the highest honor we can bestow? The cover of Dance Spirit!

Here's the plan:

  • If you're a high school or college senior dancer, use this form to submit your information and dance portrait.
  • Each day during the month of May, we'll create a digital Dance Spirit cover starring one of you, chosen at random—31 covers in total.
  • At the end of the month, we'll create a "commencement video" featuring even more of your submitted dance photos.
  • 100 of you, selected by lottery, will also receive free one-year subscriptions to the print magazine.

Merde, 2020 graduates, as you dance your way into the future!

High School and College Senior Dancers: Submit Your Photo Here

Editors' Picks

contest
Enter the Cover Model Search