What to Watch: Inside the Life of an ABT Studio Company Dancer
ABT Studio Company dancers Joseph Markey and Chloe Misseldine in the latest episode of "No Days Off." Screenshot via YouTube.
If you've ever wondered what it's like to be a member of American Ballet Theatre's Studio Company, you're in luck. The latest episode of "No Days Off," a documentary web series profiling young and inspiring athletes, spotlights 17-year-old Joseph Markey, a first-year Studio Company member. The doc not only underscores the physical aspects of Markey's training, but also the artistic refinements he must make on his road to becoming a professional dancer.
Twice a week, Markey starts his day with an intense strength and conditioning class. Supplementing his ballet training with aerobic and agility exercises (think jumping rope, line drills and rope ladders)helps him build the core strength necessary for a full day of dancing. After technique class, we see him rehearsing with famous ABT luminaries like Ethan Stiefel, Sascha Radetsky and Gillian Murphy. They provide not only thoughtful coaching, but a huge dose of inspiration. "Just being around them every day, I feel, has helped me improve," Markey says in the episode.
He's also getting the chance to refine his partnering skills as he and fellow dancer Chloe Misseldine rehearse Don Quixote. "Joseph is already is on top of things," says Radetsky, the Studio Company's artistic director, in the video. "He has an innate sense of partnering: where the ballerina needs to be, where her weight is, coordination." That said, Markey, who is nursing a strained bicep, must also learn how to work smart so that he doesn't aggravate his injury.
"No Days Off," produced by Whistle Sports, does a great job of educating general audiences about these young artist-athletes' grueling regime. As Radetsky puts it: "These dancers are ballet's versions of Olympians, our art form's top prospects—each of them hoping to be drafted into the major leagues at American Ballet Theatre."
Gabriel Figueredo in a variation from Raymonda. VAM Productions, Courtesy YAGP.
This week, over 1,000 young hopefuls gathered in New York City for the Youth America Grand Prix finals, giving them the chance to compete for scholarships and contracts to some of the world's top ballet schools and companies. Roughly 85 dancers made it to the final round at Lincoln Center's David H. Koch Theater on Wednesday. Today, the 20th anniversary of YAGP came to a close at the competition's awards ceremony. Read on to find out who won!
After a string of ballet-company rejections, Jennifer Sydor (here in Laura Peterson's "Failure") found success in other areas of the dance world. (Stephen Delas Heras, courtesy Jennifer Sydor)
In her senior year at Butler University, Jennifer Sydor auditioned for more than a dozen regional ballet companies—and got a string of "no, thank you" responses. "I have an athletic build, and my movement quality isn't the typical ballet aesthetic," Sydor says. "But I'd been laser-focused on ballet. When I didn't get a ballet contract, I was heartbroken."
Her one job offer came from Kim Robards Dance, a small modern company based in Aurora, CO. After attending KRD's summer intensive, Sydor ended up accepting a yearlong position with the troupe. "I was relieved and happy to begin my career," she says. She's been working as a contemporary dancer ever since.
In the dance world, rejection is part of the package. That doesn't make it any more pleasant. But whether you didn't get the Nutcracker role of your dreams or you weren't picked for a job despite feeling like you aced the audition, you can emerge from even the most gut-wrenching "no" smarter and stronger.
Ballet West principal Beckanne Sisk as Kitri (Luke Isley, courtesy Ballet West)
Guess who's baaaaack?! Your resident Dance Spirit astrologers! And on the eve of the Youth America Grand Prix awards ceremony, we thought it was the perfect time to pair each zodiac sign with a variation commonly seen during the competition. After many painstaking hours spent researching, consulting the stars, and staring wistfully into the sky, we compiled our data and present you with the definitive list of each star sign as a YAGP variation! As we said last time, don't @ us if you're not happy with your pairing—the stars don't lie, baby!