Broadway Ballerina Sara Esty Writes a Letter to Her Teenage Self
Sara Esty as Maggie in "A Chorus Line" (courtesy Esty)
Sara Esty's ethereal grace and sophisticated charm have won over ballet and Broadway audiences alike. The bunhead-turned-Broadway-baby began training near her hometown in Gorham, ME, at the Maine State Ballet's School for the Performing Arts (with her equally fabulous twin sister, Leigh-Ann). She enrolled full-time at the Miami City Ballet School in 2004, and joined Miami City Ballet as an apprentice in 2005. In 2006, Esty won the Princess Grace Award, and she was promoted to soloist at MCB in 2011. After leaving MCB in 2014, she made her Broadway debut in An American in Parisas the understudy for Lise, and went on to share the role of Lise with her sister on the show's national tour. Most recently, she was seen in 5th Avenue Theatre's production of Marie, Dancing Stillin Seattle, WA. —Courtney Bowers
It's me—an older, and hopefully wiser, you. Remember all of those nights you spent wondering what your future would hold and if you were making the right decision by committing to following your dreams? Good news: They've paid off. Every worry, struggle, and moment of doubt has been worth it—and there's still so much to be done.
It's a big and tough world out there. However, I can guarantee from my experiences so far that if you hadn't done the things that scared you, you would be nowhere near the artist or human you are today. Leaving the comfort of a small town in Maine to live out your passion of dancing in a ballet company? Terrifying. Leaving the comfort of 10 years in that company to move to NYC and tackle Broadway? Cue the anxiety. (FYI, anxiety will try to get the better of you, but it'll also make you stronger.) Leaving NYC to travel the U.S. and lead the first national tour of a new Broadway show? By all means, you should be completely gray in the hair by now. But guess what? You keep going and surprising yourself. Last winter, I did one of the scariest and most exhilarating things yet: I sang my heart out in one of the most vocally challenging parts in Broadway history, playing Maggie in A Chorus Line in NYC. Girl, we did it.
You're no longer "just a ballerina," and don't let people pigeonhole you there. However, the work you're doing now as a ballet dancer is the greatest gift you'll give yourself. It will make you strong in body and mind, and grant you the discipline to make it in this industry.
At age 14 (courtesy Esty)
A lot of people are going to tell you "no," but you know what you do with that? You turn it into "yes." You'll be faced with a lot of tough decisions, and you'll ALWAYS wonder if you've made the right choices, but following your heart will put you in the right place. Work your butt off. Stay humble, stay grateful. You've gotten yourself where you are today with the love of your family, friends, and teachers. But when you're on the audition floor or the stage, it's just you. Believe that you are enough.
A version of this story appeared in the May/June 2019 issue of Dance Spirit with the title "Letter to My Teenage Self: Sara Esty."
School of American Ballet students (Rosalie O'Connor, courtesy SAB)
Do you have a "Strictly Ballet"–sized hole in your heart? Good news: The upcoming docuseries "On Pointe" just might fill it.
The School of American Ballet is teaming up with Imagine Documentaries and DCTV for the project. Though it's not yet clear where "On Pointe" will air, we do know that it'll follow talented SAB students preparing for professional ballet careers—much as Teen Vogue's popular "Strictly Ballet" web series did back in the day. But "On Pointe" marks the first time documentary filmmakers have been allowed access to the school, and it sounds like it'll paint an even more complete picture of the dancers' lives inside and outside the studio.
Choreographer Bob Fosse's signature style—with its jazz hands, inverted knees, and slouched shoulders—is still a huge influence in the dance world (and, thanks to the gloriously dancyFX series "Fosse/Verdon," the TV world). But while you know to expect plenty of Fosse-isms during a stage performance of Chicago or Sweet Charity, Fosse's legacy has also seeped into pop music culture, inspiring the likes of Beyoncé and Lady Gaga. Here are just six of the many music videos that reference Fosse's iconic works.
Gabrielle Hamilton in John Heginbotham's dream ballet from Oklahoma! Photo by Little Fang Photo, courtesy DKC/O&M
Last night, longtime theater legends (including Chita Rivera herself!) as well as rising stars gathered to celebrate one of Broadway's danciest events: the third annual Chita Rivera Awards.
The evening paid tribute to this season's dancer standouts, extraordinary ensembles, and jaw-dropping choreography—on- and off-Broadway and on film.
As usual, several Dance Spirit faves made it into the mix. (With such a fabulous talent pool of nominees to choose from, we're glad that ties were allowed.) Here are the highlights from the winner's list: