Kate's Note: New Beginnings

I don’t remember all the details of my apprentice year with San Francisco Ballet. I can’t tell you about my first rehearsals or even what ballets I first performed. I guess that’s what happens when an experience is totally life-altering: The little things fade away. What is fresh in my memory is the exhilaration, fear, joy and pain—both physical and mental—that I felt during that incredible year. Without my family nearby, I had to navigate so many firsts on my own. Everything was new: taking company class with my idols, learning choreography, the relentless 8:00 curtain. On top of all that, I was paying bills for the first time and trying to maintain good grades (I was a high school senior).


My apprenticeship began in September, the month when people all around the country are experiencing new beginnings. Whether you’re entering a new grade level in dance or school, trying out a different dance studio or returning to your professional dance life after a long, hot summer, you’ll find something in our information-packed September issue to help you navigate your fresh start.


Want to know what it’s like to land one of the most coveted apprenticeships of all? Dance Spirit assistant editor Margaret Fuhrer went behind the scenes at one of the toughest places to make it—New York City Ballet—and spent time talking to dancers about how apprenticeships really work. Starting on p. 62, our two glamorous cover subjects, NYCB apprentices Lauren Lovette and Taylor Stanley, tell you how they got the gig. Then in “The Apprentices” (p. 66), former apprentices share surprising tips and insights.


Puanani Brown, another former NYCB apprentice who is now dancing with American Ballet Theatre, had a curvier road to success. The year she was offered her apprenticeship she was also accepted to Harvard! The difficult decision about what to do and how it all played out makes for a juicy and fascinating read (p. 40).


Deciding which colleges to apply to is no easy task and choosing the right school to attend will play a major role in your dance future. Our annual Higher Ed Guide (p. 102) is aimed at helping you pick the best school for you, and “So You Think You Can Get Into College?” (p. 84) gives you all the info you need to nail your college dance audition. Then, in “Balancing Act” (p. 90) DS sheds light on some common college pitfalls so that you can steer clear of the drama that can cause you to veer off track.


No matter how stressed out you become, remember: You always have fashion to calm you down and bring out your creativity! And DS’s advice this month is especially helpful if you haven’t gone on your back-to-school shopping spree yet. In “Best Dressed” (p. 54) fashion editors Michael Anne Bailey and Khara Hanlon handpicked some of the newest and cutest finds to show off every side of your personality, including your inner queen bee and your hidden rebel.


One final thought: While new beginnings can be tough, stretching yourself to be better, stronger and more knowledgeable than you were yesterday is the very thing that will make you great. It’s in those moments that we learn the most about ourselves, who we are and who we want to become. So get out there this September and show your dance spirit!


Lots of love,

Kate Lydon


Photo of New York City Ballet apprentices Taylor Stanley and Lauren Lovette by Erin Baiano.

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