Photo by Eva Nys, courtesy Ellison Ballet

Keaton Gillespie has the expressive face of a silent film star. Add in her soaring extensions, elegant port de bras, and gorgeous feet, and it's no wonder this 15-year-old is turning heads. Currently in her second year at Ellison Ballet in NYC, Keaton made the big move up from South Carolina on her own at 13, after crafting a PowerPoint presentation to convince her parents that the school's intense Vaganova curriculum was what she needed to take her dancing to the next level. (Her parents will join her in NYC this summer, now that her brother has finished high school.) Keaton's 2018 wins included junior grand prix at ADC/IBC and top 12 classical at the Youth America Grand Prix NYC finals. But she's not in it for the trophies. "I love ballet for the artistic challenge," Keaton says. "You're doing something so physically demanding, but you have to portray a character at the same time. I want to impact people with my artistry onstage."

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Rising Stars
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 dearkatie@dancespirit.com for a chance to be featured!

Dear Katie,

I've reached a point where it's clear that my body isn't designed for ballet. Realizing that broke my heart, because dancing with a classical ballet company was always my dream. Some of my teachers have said that I should audition for contemporary groups, but I feel like that would be weird—I've barely studied contemporary dance, and I don't love it. Should I quit dance? Or should I go down a path I'm not 100 percent passionate about?

Aaliyah

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Dear Katie
Alison Miller (front) in Stanton Welch's "The Ladies" (Amitava Sarkar, courtesy Houston Ballet)

Few things ruin the magic of a performance faster than the sound of loud pointe shoes. "When an audience watches someone dancing, they don't want to hear tap-tap-tap," says Houston Ballet first soloist Allison Miller. Pointe shoe sounds can be distracting to you, too, breaking your concentration and keeping you from getting lost in the moment. So, how can you step more softly? Doing so takes thought and practice, and maybe some changes to your shoes themselves. But it can also help you stand out—quietly.

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Ballet
Photo by Erin Baiano

In our "Dear Katie" series, MCB soloist Kathryn Morgan answers your pressing dance questions. Have something you want to ask Katie? Email dearkatie@dancespirit.com for a chance to be featured!

Dear Katie,

I'm 14 and have been studying ballet seriously for about three years. Even though I feel ready, my teachers haven't put me on pointe yet. Am I doing something wrong? Should I ask them about it, or is it pointe-less?

Leilani

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Dear Katie
Screenshot via @sussexroyal on Instagram

It's a great week to be following the Duke and Duchess of Sussex (aka Prince Harry and Meghan Markle). First, on Tuesday there was the surprise launch of @sussexroyal, the couple's very own official Instagram account. Now, we have some seriously adorable photos and details from Harry's solo visit Wednesday to the YMCA South Ealing in West London. Among other things, the dashing royal made friends with a baby and tried out his pre-ballet skills. What a time to be alive, friends.

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