School Buzz: Ballet On Campus

Ballet On Campus

Many colleges lack ballet-oriented dance departments. So these two new student-run companies took it upon themselves to provide outlets for brainy ballet dancers.

Columbia Ballet Collaborative: In the summer of 2007, five Columbia University students met at a diner to talk about how much they missed their mutual passion: ballet. A few hours later, the Columbia Ballet Collaborative was born. Since then, the group has swelled to include more than 25 dancers, and this spring its members will perform at Columbia’s Miller Theatre. Although much of the choreography will be by students—which was one of the founders’ goals—the program will also include a duet by New York City Ballet dancers Justin Peck and Teresa Reichlen. And the group’s members, many of whom have worked professionally, boast pretty impressive resumés themselves.

Princeton University Ballet: Princeton has several dance companies, but for a long time, none felt like a natural home for ballet students. Last spring, a small group of ballet enthusiasts, missing their pointe shoes, filled that hole: They created the Princeton University Ballet. Now the troupe includes 16 girls and 2 boys, and this spring it will present its first formal concert. Student choreography will make up most of the program, but the production will also include the classical Swan Lake pas de trois, as well as a piece choreographed by Mary Barton of the American Repertory Ballet School.

youngARTS Presidential Scholar Finalists

The youngARTS program, a part of National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts, announced its list of finalists, made up of the nation’s most talented high school seniors in nine different artistic disciplines. Approximately 6,000 to 8,000 students register for youngARTS each year. The finalists are brought to Miami for youngARTS Week to participate in master classes and showcase performances. This year’s dance finalists were:

Chelsea Adomaitis, Vashon, WA; Ernest Baker II, Opa-Locka, FL; Ryan Casey, Lexington, MA; Jeniffer Criss, Dallas, TX; Jeffrey Cirio, Winter Park, FL (see p. 56 in DS’ 2008 March issue); Sarah Clark, Monroe, MI; John Crowley, Ballston Lake, NY; Hannah Darrah, Durham, NC; Meghan Fluker, Dallas, TX; Vidya Govind-Thomas, Schaumburg, IL; Kayla Harley, Bowi, MD; Cecily Khuner, Berkeley, CA; Daniel Mitra, Woodstock Valley, CT; Sara Murawski, Chesapeake, VA (2007 DS Cover Model Search Finalist!); Raymond Pinto, Bridgeport, CT; Olivia Rehrman, Mckinney, TX; Dylan Tedaldi, Newton, MA (see p. 128 in DS’ 2008 July/August issue); Meena Thatikunta, Cincinnati, OH; Frederick Thomas, Cedar Hill, TX; Nathanial Trasoras, Downey, CA; Ayla Weisz, Miami, FL —Brianne Carlon

ABT II Welcomes Two Newbies

Congratulations to Colby Parsons and Alberto Velázquez, the newest members of American Ballet Theatre II! The former students of ABT’s Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School were accepted into the second company this January. Nineteen-year-old Colby, a finalist at the 2007 New York Youth America Grand Prix, studied at Debbie Allen Dance Academy and The Rock School for Dance Education before joining the JKO School in 2007. Eighteen-year-old Alberto began dancing in his native Cuba and continued in Mexico and at Florida’s The Harid Conservatory, picking up the 2006 YAGP gold medal in pas de deux along the way, before landing at the JKO School in 2008. Look for both boys onstage with ABT II this April in NYC and Orono, ME.

Dance News
(From left) Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland (all photos by Erin Baiano)

Congratulations to 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 on their profile pages, and then vote for your favorite below. You can vote once a day now through July 15.

We also want you to get social! We'll be factoring social media likes and shares into our final tallies. Be sure to show your favorite finalist some love on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, sharing their profile pages and using the hashtag #DanceSpiritCMS.

Cover Model Search
Photo by Erin Baiano

In our "Dear Katie" series, Miami City Ballet soloist Kathryn Morgan answers your pressing dance questions. Have something you want to ask Katie? Email for a chance to be featured!

Dear Katie,

When I sit with the soles of my feet together, my knees easily touch the floor, and most exercises to improve turnout are easy for me. But when I'm actually dancing, my turnout is terrible, especially on my standing leg. Why doesn't my flexibility translate to turnout?


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Dear Katie
Via Twitter

Would that we could all live in Taylor Swift's Pride-topia, booty-popping with Todrick Hall and sharing snow cones with Adam Rippon in our rainbow-flag-bedecked RV park. But much as we're loving "You Need to Calm Down" and other similarly upbeat celebrations of Pride month, this is also a time to recognize the battles the members of the LGBTQIA+ community have fought—and are still fighting. That's one of the reasons why "I'm Gay," a new dance video by Eugene Lee Yang of The Try Guys, is so important.

The dark, deeply personal video is Yang's coming-out moment. We see Yang being rejected by his family, condemned by a preacher, and attacked by a hostile mob after attempting to express himself as a gay man. Though not a professional dancer (as we found out in "The Try Guys Try Ballet"), Yang is a gifted mover; he choreographed the project himself, and gathered a group of talented performers to bring the story to life.

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