DeBona in Rite of Spring (Luke Isley, courtesy Ballet West)
Ballet West's Allison DeBona first became a major figure on the pop-culture scene with her stint on The CW series “Breaking Pointe." Her ethereal grace and commanding stage presence have kept her there since. DeBona trained with the Parou Ballet Company (now New Castle Regional Ballet) in New Castle, PA, and the Pittsburgh Youth Ballet while growing up. She later attended Indiana University and graduated with a bachelor's degree in ballet before joining Ballet West in 2007. In 2011 she was promoted to demi-soloist, was given the soloist title in 2013 and, finally, was named first soloist in 2015. Catch her next month in the company's production of Madame Butterfly, and read on for The Dirt!
Go-to stress reliever?
Cleaning! Believe it or not!
Who's your dance role model?
I admire Stella Abrera. I always thought she was so beautiful. When she finally got promoted to principal at American Ballet Theatre it proved there is no limit to a career. Love her! Also, I think The Royal Ballet's Marianela Nuñez is so beautiful!
What's the most played song on your playlist?
Anything Maroon 5!
What's something no one knows about you?
I love football, particularly the Pittsburgh Steelers, more than ballet.
What's something that can always make you laugh?
My family. It's like a traveling circus!
What's one food you can't live without?
Do you have any nicknames?
Alli, Alli-Cat and Bones!
What's something you're most proud of?
I co-founded the artÉmotion Summer Intensive with Ballet in the City in 2015. We had 70 students year one. Our 2016 program grew to 115 students and we have intensives in Cleveland and Detroit. So proud!
If you could go anywhere in the world where would you go?
Iceland or Greenland
What's the strangest thing in your dance bag?
Most of the time it's the old banana that I forget about! A weekly science project.
Do you have any pre-performance superstitions or habits?
I take a warm shower and a B-complex vitamin.
Do you have any pets?
Yes! A shih tzu named Zipper Fly. We also had a chocolate lab named Colby Clarease, but she passed in November. I miss her dearly.
Who's your dance crush?
[Ballet West principal] Rex Tilton, of course! ☺
Do you have a favorite workout?
I love to run and lift weights. Always have, too. Even though people try to tell me it's “not good for dancers." Not true!
Where do you feel the happiest?
At home with my fiancé, Rex Tilton (Ballet West, principal), and our little doggie, Zipper Fly! I love them!!
What's your favorite movie?
Who would play you in a movie?
Definitely some kind of witch. I love creepy things!
Have you had any embarrassing moments onstage?
Not that I can think of. But, now I wonder if I'm jinxing myself!
What's your biggest piece of advice for other young performers?
Don't bother with being nervous. You'll only let precious moments onstage pass you by. Live in the good and bad moments onstage. It's all art, regardless. People will always appreciate your work, even if you don't appreciate it yourself sometimes.
What's one thing you'd consider yourself an expert at?
I'm a good problem solver.
Do you have any guilty pleasures?
I love watching sports. Sunday football games are my favorite! I love hockey and baseball, too!
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!