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.
(From left) Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland (all photos by Erin Baiano)
Dance Spirit's 2019 Cover Model Search finalists: Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland! One of them will win a spot on Dance Spirit's Fall 2019 cover. Learn more about the dancers by clicking on their names here:
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Dancers are naturally "in their heads" all the time—but not always in productive ways. Long days of receiving and applying corrections, taking class, and performing can get to even the most composed individuals. What should you do when you feel like your mind is just as busy as your rehearsal schedule? Try meditation. Dance Spirit turned to Adreanna Limbach, a head teacher at NYC-based meditation studio MNDFL, for a breakdown of this highly beneficial practice.
Liz Imperio teaching at Hollywood Vibe, Courtesy of Hollywood Vibe
It's an increasingly common scenario: A talented dancer wins big at a competition, is offered an assistantship with a famous faculty member, and ends up leaving her hometown studio to travel with a convention. Convention-hopping has obvious benefits. Every event generates new content for dancers to post on social media, gives them a better shot at ending up on their favorite choreographers' accounts, lets them learn from the best of the best, and helps them make valuable connections. "Traveling is a great way for dancers to gain admirers around the country," says Jen Jarnot, owner of Artistic Fusion Dance Academy in Thornton, CO. "That's something every dancer craves." So it's no surprise that weekend FOMO has been blazing through studios like wildfire.
But is this jet-setter lifestyle really the most effective road to take? Can weekends of dancing with top talent truly replace the bread and butter of daily work at your home studio? The answer, according to most industry experts, is no. We asked five pros to explain why.