LOURDES LOPEZ / ARTISTIC DIRECTOR

The Life of a Miami City Ballet Student: Gustavo Pacheco

Our 5-week Summer Intensive is quickly coming to a close. It’s hard to believe that just five weeks ago, Miami City Ballet School welcomed over 200 students—some coming from as far as Brazil, Italy and even Poland. Nerves were high for many of our first-timers during the first week, but it wasn’t long before you could see confidence building, friendships forming and, of course, a whole lot of dancing.

Over the past week, our school faculty has been evaluating student hopefuls for the opportunity to attend Miami City Ballet School’s Pre-Professional Year-Round Program. We decided to catch up Gustavo Pacheco, one of our Summer Intensive students who also attends Year-Round program, to get an insider’s look at what life is like at Miami City School.

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MCB: How long have you been attending Miami City Ballet School?
GP: I started as a student in Miami City Ballet School in September of last year.

MCB: What were your first days here like?
GP: For me, the experience was very different from what I was used to in Brazil. Besides being in a different place, the training here was different too. For example, in Brazil, I had many female teachers, so I hadn’t really had a chance to learn male technique from a male dancer. When I came to Miami City Ballet School, I began learning from male dancers, which was very helpful, but also very challenging. Here, the boys get to work on male technique every day. This wasn’t something I was used to.

MCB: What type of classes do you take at Miami City Ballet School?
GP: Now during the summer, the boys take a Men’s Technique class in the mornings. After that, everyone takes a Variations class. After lunch, we usually take classes like Jazz, Modern, Floor Barre and, for the boys, Weight Training. Then after that we have rehearsal, of course.

MCB: What is your favorite class?
GP: Out of all the classes, I think my favorite class is the Men’s Technique class. Here, I feel like I get a chance to do the most of what I love, which is classic ballet. This class makes me feel good.

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MCB: How many hours do you train?
GP: We dance from 9:30AM to 4:30PM with a one-hour lunch break, so about 6 hours a day, Monday through Saturday.

MCB: Do you have any daily rituals, either before or after dancing?
GP: Before class I usually eat something small like cereal. I don’t really like eating too much in the morning, but I’ll have something so I don’t dance on an empty stomach. Before class I also like to warm up, massaging my legs and anywhere on my body that feels tight.

After class, I usually go to the gym and ice my legs, then put them in hot water to relax them. This was recommended to me because I had an injury not too long ago. It helps prevent my muscles from staying tight, and gets me ready for the next day.

MCB: What do you like to do after class?
GP: I like to hang out with my friends, but I also love to just be in my apartment and watch TV or movies. I am sometimes too tired to go out, so getting to be home is great.

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MCB: What is your favorite part of being a student at Miami City Ballet School? What is the most challenging part?
GP: My favorite part is that I’ve been able to receive a lot of training in male technique. I think this type of training is very helpful because I eventually want to dance as a professional. At the same time, learning more male technique has also been the most challenging part because I’m learning how to do new things with my body.

MCB: What advice would you give for students just starting out at MCBS?
GP: I think that as a new student it’s important to remember to be respectful to everyone around you, both teachers and students. Your first impression is what everyone will remember about you. New students should also come here mentally and physically ready because it’s very hard work.

MCB: What are you looking most forward to this year?
GP: I am excited to be working as a student apprentice with the Miami City Ballet dancers. I just found out a few days ago that I would be taking on this role. I cannot wait to get a chance to work with the company.

Summer at Miami City Ballet School

Summer is in full swing at Miami City Ballet; and while our company dancers may be off for the next five weeks, our school is abuzz with activity, from summer intensives to a full lineup of community classes.

It’s All About Summer Intensive
Last week we kicked off our 5-week Summer Intensive, welcoming over 200 students. The program, which will conclude with a Summer Repertory Performance on Friday, July 25th, is designed for serious dancers ages 12-19. Students here take classes such as Ballet Technique, Pointe, Pas de Deux, Floor Barre, Jazz and others, and are taught by Miami City Ballet School faculty, Miami City Ballet artistic staff, including Ballet Masters and Lourdes Lopez, Artistic Director, and Company dancers.

Artistic Director Lourdes Lopez teaching students during a Summer Intensive class.

Meanwhile, the school’s Brazilian Summer Intensive, led by Alice Arja, our international relations liaison, kicked off yesterday with 70 students in attendance for the summer.

What’s most exciting, each year select students from the summer intensive will be chosen and invited to attend Miami City Ballet School’s Pre-Professional Year-Round Program, considered to be one of the most prestigious ballet training programs in America. This program prepares advanced students for a career in dance, with a focus on technique, artistry and expanding dance styles and repertoire. More than half of the dancers on Miami City Ballet’s current roster started as students in the pre-professional division.

Dance, Fitness and Fun
You don’t have to be an aspiring professional to enjoy Miami City Ballet School. This summer, we are offering a wide variety of workshops and classes for everyone—from children to adults, first-timers to more experienced dancers—in a relaxed and welcoming environment.  Our ongoing summer schedule includes classes such as Ballet 101, Pilates, Broadway Jazz and Floor-Barre®.

Want to learn more? Visit our www.miamicityballet.org/school for class schedules and pricing. You can also find out more about our upcoming Open House here.

 

5 Reasons to Begin Ballet as an Adult!

Have you been wanting to learn ballet but have little or no previous training? Maybe you took dance as a child or a young adult, but never pursued it seriously? Or, maybe you just never had the right opportunity to get started?

Whatever the reason, learning ballet (especially for the first time) seems like a daunting feat! Miami City Ballet School completely understands this and has developed a Ballet 101 Workshop for beginners starting this June and July. In the following post, Kris Kramer, a former professional dancer with Miami City Ballet and teacher for Miami City Ballet’s School’s Open Adult Class division, shares 5 top reasons for why this workshop is the perfect opportunity to take the plunge and start ballet!

Beginner Ballet

Students in Miami City Ballet School’s Open Adult Class division.

Reason #1: Customized Class

Ballet 101 was created for true beginners and those seeking to better understand and improve the most basic ballet positions and steps. Each class builds upon the next and after completion of the workshop, students can progress to our Beginner Ballet class with more confidence and ease.

So, why not just attend Beginner Ballet class? For Beginner Ballet, students can drop-in for a single class or come regularly each week, so they do not follow a steady progression when learning the most basic to more complex steps. First-time ballet dancers, who don’t know the basic positions and steps, could feel a little lost. In Open Adult Division classes, “Beginner” encompasses a wide range of abilities. Ballet 101 is designed for those at the entry level of “Beginner” to give students who require the extra attention necessary for starting ballet.

Reason #2: Chicken Legs

We’ve all seen them. Those guys and gals with awesomely toned bodies — muscles galore — but little old chicken legs. Ballet is one of the best workouts to not only strengthen and tone your entire body, but also to improve coordination and body awareness. Bring on the élevés and relevés to work the lower extremities, especially the calves, ankles and feet, and you too will start seeing results that no other workout can accomplish.

Reason #3: Amazing Facilities

Miami City Ballet and Miami City Ballet School are both housed in one of the few facilities in the world built from the ground up specifically for dance. The building and eight studios are unparalleled to any in South Florida. Who wants to learn ballet slipping around on a waxed, wood floor, or do jumps on hidden concrete below? That’s an injury waiting to happen! Learn ballet in one of MCB School’s state-of-the-art studios with lightly sprung marley flooring, full-length mirrors and plenty of barre space.

Reason #4: A Treat for You

Do you spend most days running around after your kids, working crazy hours or watching too much TV? It’s time to get out of the grind. Wouldn’t it be a nice change of pace to have some “you” time to move your body and learn something new? Here’s your chance to do something for you.

Reason #5: Awesome Teacher

When you think of ballet, do you conjure up images of an old Madame eerily pacing the studio,  barking out counts to the dancers, “five, six, seven, eight,” as she swings her cane haphazardly around? Here’s a little shameless self-promotion that I think most of my students would agree with. As a teacher, I am welcoming, encouraging, insanely passionate about ballet, and enjoy having a light-hearted, fun and exciting class. If you are feeling a little intimidated about the whole prospect of learning ballet, I’m the teacher for you. - Kris

Beginning Ballet

MCB School teacher Kris Kramer instructs a student in our Open Division.

Have more questions about Ballet 101 or our Open Adult Division? Leave a comment below or contact Kris directly by clicking here!

MCB School Promotions!

In March, news broke that Miami City Ballet School students Ellen Grocki and Alex Manning had been invited to join the company. JUST IN —  two more students from MCB School are slated to join the professional ranks of the company! We are proud to announce that Raechel Sparreo and Émilien Rivoire will be joining MCB as corps de ballet members when the 2014-2015 Season opens in October. Read about each dancer’s reaction to the exciting news below!

WECOME TO MCB RAECHEL SPARREO!

Balanchine

Raechel Sparreo in MCB School’s performance of Balanchine’s ‘Serenade.’ Photo by Mitchell Zachs/MagicalPhotos.com

I am from Buffalo Grove, Illinois. I started ballet when I was 3 at Bataille Academy of Danse. At 11 years old, I began training at Faubourg School of Ballet under Watmora Casey, Tatyana Mazur, Ernesto Quenedit, Victor Alexander and Maray Gutierrez. I also trained at Fox Ballet with Terry Fox. I first came to Miami City Ballet School in 2010 for the 5-Week Summer Intensive. I loved it so much that I returned the following summer. At the end of the intensive, I was lucky enough to be invited to attend Miami City Ballet School for the 2011-2012 School- Year Program. I had unforgettable experiences that year and the next, performing not only with the school, but also with the company in the Nutcracker, Giselle, and Coppélia. This year, my third year with the school, I was very fortunate to study with MCB as a student apprentice.

The day I found out I was being promoted, the other students and I had end-of-year conferences with Ms. Callaghan and our teachers. My classmates and I had similar meetings in December in which we discussed our futures and were given advice on our dancing, so I was expecting something identical. When Ms. Callaghan gave me the news, I immediately burst into tears of joy! Émilien’s meeting was actually right after mine and he was the first person I told. I then called my mom to give her the big news to which she replied “Shut up!” and cried too.  When Emilien came out of his meeting and told me that he had received the same news, we hugged and cried! I cannot wait for this coming season and to live my dream! -Raechel

WELCOME TO MCB ÉMILIEN RIVOIRE!

Dance Student

Recently promoted corps de ballet member Emilien Rivoire.

I come from Lille, a city in Northern France. I started ballet when I was 8 at the Ballet du Nord of Roubaix and the Conservatory of Lille. When I was 12, I studied at the Paris Opera Ballet School for a year. I later studied at the Conservatoire National Superieur de Music et de Danse de Paris until I was 16. In 2011, I attended the School of American Ballet summer intensive and was invited to stay for the year round program. I first came to Miami City Ballet School for the 2013 summer course. During the last week of the program, I was offered a position as a student apprentice with the Miami City Ballet.

My teachers told me about my contract during our end of the year meetings. At first my jaw dropped, I couldn’t believe it! After all these years of training I finally reached my goal. I was so exited I immediately called my mom to tell her the great news. I’m really proud to be part of the MCB Family! - Émilie

Read about our Company Promotions here!

A Ballet Homecoming

Gerard Ebitz joined Miami City Ballet as an original member of the Company in 1986. Twenty seven years later, he has returned to the MCB family as a teacher at MCB School. We asked Gerard about his ballet homecoming and what exciting endeavors he is partaking in at MCB School.

Gerry teaching MCB School students choreography for his new work.

Gerard working with MCB School students.

MCB: When did you first join Miami City Ballet and how long did you dance here? 

Gerard: I was a founding member of Miami City Ballet and I performed with the company for the first two years.

MCB: Is there a favorite performance memory you have from MCB?

Gerard: I have several fond memories from those years. Not only did I get to revisit roles that I had danced with the Zurich Opera Ballet, such a the leads in Allegro Brilliant and Valse Fantasie, but I was also given the opportunity to dance other wonderful Balanchine Ballets that included the principal roles in the Donizetti Variations and Square Dance. Perhaps, one of the most rewarding moments for me with Miami City Ballet was to portray the role of the Father in Prodigal Son with Yanis Pikeris as the son and Kay Preston as the Siren. Having spent eight years in New York City Ballet, I had always admired the powerful simplicity that Shaun O’Brien brought to the role of the Father and it was a great challenge to try and capture his interpretation. Having seen the ballet from the early 70’s, I believe, Yanis was one of the greatest Sons to have ever have danced this role.  

Gerard in Prodigal Son, Miami City Ballet, 1986

Gerard in Prodigal Son, Miami City Ballet, 1986

MCB: After MCB, where else did you dance? How many years were you away from MCB before returning? 

Gerard: After leaving Miami City Ballet, I worked with Ballet Randolph, a local modern dance company, under the direction of Randolph Parrott. Not only was I given the opportunity to work with an amazing group of talented dancers, Randy also gave me a wonderful opportunity to explore my own ideas in choreography. Due to his illness, I eventually became the director of Ballet Randolph in addition to teaching and choreographing at the New World School of the Arts. So twenty–five years after leaving Miami City Ballet, I have crossed the bay and returned!

MCB: How does it feel to be back at Miami City Ballet?

Gerard: It is an honor to be working for Lourdes Lopez and Darleen Callaghan, two women who I greatly admire, and no doubt will take this company and this school to the next level. When I left MCB, we were working in a two studio store front on Lincoln Road and now, thanks to the blood, sweat and tears of numerous, dancers, administrators, and patrons over all these many years, this company and school are primed to take the dance world by storm. To train the next generation of dancers here at Miami City Ballet and at the New World School of the Arts, is both incredibly rewarding and bittersweet. To observe the progress of a dancer, is by far more interesting than watching a young dancer who is complacent with solid technique. If a dancer is open to correction and willing to leave their comfort zone, then you know good things will happen. I also know that it is so much harder for them to find employment than it was for my generation. The competition is so much greater and the jobs are less abundant.

Gerard teaching MCB School students choreography for his new ballet.

Gerard teaching MCB School students choreography for his new ballet.

MCB: Right now you are creating an original work on MCB School students. What is the piece about? How have the students inspired you? 

Gerard: The piece is called Sunshine State, with music by John Adams and costume design by Haydee Morales. I am a huge fan of the music of John Adams. His music always seems to take me somewhere. Since we live in Florida, I gave each section of the piece, a working title of a road or artery in South Florida. The piece is abstract but with human elements. The sections are called: Bayshore, Tamiami, Ocean, Flagler, and I-95. The students have been truly wonderful in this process, with varied schedules, of performances, auditions and academics. Most have come to each rehearsal, clearly processing work from a previous rehearsal and willing to teach their alternates information that was missed. Tools that will serve them well in their professional life. I always want the dancers to be part of the creative process. I enjoy when different casts bring something different to the same role. This was hard for some of them who wanted to be told exactly what to do. Others jumped at the opportunity to problem solve and take chances, these will be the ones who will be our next generation of choreographers.

MCB: Where and when will the students be performing your work? 

Gerard: We will be presenting a preview/excerpt at the Gusman Theater on April 3rd as guests of the National High School Dance Festival. The full work will have two performances on the Pre-Professional Division Concert here at Miami City Ballet on May 2 and 3rd.

Moving on up!

With Company promotions announced last week, we are thrilled to welcome two Miami City Ballet School (MCB School) students who have been invited to join Miami City Ballet for our 2014-2015 Season. We extend a big congratulations to students Ellen Grocki and Alex Manning for becoming official members of the Company! Learn about these dancers and their reactions to the exciting news below!

WELCOME TO MCB ELLEN GROCKI!

Ellen Grocki

Ellen Grocki in the 2013 MCB School Student Workshop performance.

I’m a small town girl from good old Damascus, Maryland and started ballet when I was three years old. I trained under Florence Gardner for six years in Damascus, and then under Patricia Berrend at Berrend Dance Center in Olney, Maryland for seven years. In the summer of 2012, at age 16, I attended the Miami City Ballet School Summer Intensive. It is so funny to think back to the first time I danced in these studios, and how nervous and inexperienced I was. That summer truly made an impact on me, and I was ecstatic when I was offered an invitation to stay at MCB School for the winter term. Somehow, my mom let me go, and I had an incredible year with the school. I had the opportunity to perform in The Nutcracker with the company that year, and that was when I really fell in love with Miami City Ballet. Being in those rehearsals and getting the chance to dance onstage alongside such exquisite dancers made it clear to me that I wanted nothing more than to be a part of this Company. Currently, this is my second year at MCB School and my first year as a Student Apprentice with the Company.

The day I was promoted was a normal Thursday, like any other. I was getting ready for class at the studios when I was told that our school director Ms. Callaghan wanted to speak to me. I walked into her office, completely oblivious to what was about to happen, and the first thing she said was, “Ellen, I have good news.” Now, for the past two years, every day before dance class, I would say to myself, “You are the newest member of Miami City Ballet,” to try to encourage myself to keep working harder. Then in that moment, when Ms. Callaghan finally said those words out loud, it didn’t seem real. I skipped all the way down the hallway to the last studio surrounded by windows and just danced and jumped around by myself. I called my family and we were all crying. Then I hopped right back into modern class, knowing that I was one step closer to achieving my dreams. Everyone in the company has made me feel so incredibly welcome as a new member of the corps de ballet. I cannot wait for all that the upcoming season holds, and I am so excited to be a part of it. 
-Ellen

WELCOME TO MCB ALEX MANNING!

Alex Manning performing 'Sleeping Beauty' at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet.

Alex Manning performing ‘Sleeping Beauty’ at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet.

I am from State College, Pennsylvania. I first trained at a small school there called the Ballet Theatre of Central Pennsylvania. When I was 13, I went to the Walnut Hill School for the Arts for my Freshman and Sophomore years of high school. Then, I moved to a small apartment in Carlisle, Pennsylvania with my mom and sister to attend the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet (CPYB) under the direction of Marcia Dale Weary. While at CPYB, I also studied privately with Laszlo Berdo and Leslie Hench. Last year, I auditioned for Miami City Ballet and was offered a Student Apprenticeship with MCB School. This was my first and only year here at MCB School.

Last Friday, I had a meeting scheduled with Ms. Callaghan, the school director, before class in the morning. I remember not sleeping for the whole night, and in the back of my mind I was not feeling very positive. I kept seeing talented male dancers come in to audition and thought I was just too inexperienced to be hired this year. But when I walked in to see Ms. Callaghan, she sat me down and immediately told me, “Congratulations! Ms. Lopez would like to offer you a contract.” I didn’t even know what to say. I was so shocked! I immediately hugged Ms. Callaghan and almost started crying in her arms. Then I asked, “Is that all?” And she laughed and told me “that’s it!” So I ran out to call my friends, parents and teachers. I was so thankful that all of those years of hard work with those special people helping me along the way had paid off. And I’m so proud that this all happened here at Miami City Ballet!
-Alex

Audience members will have the opportunity to see Ellen and Alex perform with both the Company and MCB School before our 2013-2014 Season comes to an end. Catch them during MCB School’s Student Choreography Showcase on April 26th and the Miami City Ballet Ensemble performances on May 2-3 — both at in-house studio theater in Miami Beach. Or, see them on the mainstage during our season finale of Don Quixote and when our 2014-2015 Season opens in October!

Check out the Company promotions here!

 

Thank YOU for supporting MCB School on GIVE MIAMI DAY!

Thanks to the generosity of YOU and The Miami Foundation, we raised $3,175 on Give Miami Day. MCB School student Capriana shares how your support of MCB School scholarships will continue to provide opportunities for she and other students to pursue their dreams!

Capriana

Capriana

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve had a passion for dance! Since I was nine, I would dance every summer. Last year, I decided to enroll in the Miami City Ballet School 2013 summer intensive — it was love at first sight! I loved my teachers, classmates, and not to mention, the training! This particular summer intensive exposed me to many different technique styles and instructors. I especially loved that all my teachers took the time and effort to work with everyone individually. I also enjoyed that it offered such a culturally diverse group of people. I made many new friends that I’ll always keep in touch with. After my wonderful experience, I just knew I had to attend year round program! When Mrs. Callaghan told me that I was accepted into the year round program, I was ecstatic! Immediately after I found out the great news I called my mom to let her know! The best part though, was when I discovered that I had also received a partial scholarship. The scholarship support enabled me to be taught the best training offered in Miami. Going here has made my dream become a reality!

Capriana training at MCB School.

Capriana training at MCB School.

Make Dreams Come True on Give Miami Day!

Tomorrow is Give Miami Day! Make sure to visit GiveMiamiDay.com to help us raise money for  scholarships at MCB School. Below, MCB School student Michael Holden shares how scholarship support has made the difference in his development as a professional dancer!

TOMORROW:

Visit GiveMiamiDay.org > Search Miami City Ballet > and make your gift!

Michael Holden

Michael Holden

My name is Michael Holden and I am from Falmouth Maine, which is a small suburb of Portland, Maine. I started dancing at the age of 3 in a little ballet/tap “combo” class. I  worked my way up through the school into the attached company — the Maine State Ballet. I had heard of Miami City Ballet from two Maine State Ballet alumni — the Esty twins. I wanted to experience a larger school with new teachers and a different atmosphere to work and enhance my technique. My mom and I came down to Miami to audition to see everything in person — it was awe-inspiring. Right before I boarded the plane to return to Maine, I checked my email one more time. I was accepted to the school and could not have been happier. Along with receiving the acceptance, I also received a scholarship, which made it all the more exciting. Having a scholarship means the world to me because ballet is my world! Without a scholarship, I wouldn’t be able to further the art and fulfill my passion. When Donors invest in us dancers, we are able to dedicate ourselves fully to training in the school. We then as professional dancers in the company are able to give back by performing, showing culture, and most importantly, doing what we love.

Michael taking company class with Artistic Director Lourdes Lopez.

Michael taking company class with Artistic Director Lourdes Lopez. Follow Michael on Instagram @obviouslyme.

How YOU make dreams come true!

We are days away from Give Miami Day! This year, we are raising money to support scholarships at MCB School. Below, MCB School student Victoria Huaroto shares how scholarship support has fueled her ambitions to become a professional ballet dancer.

On Wednesday, November 20:

Visit GiveMiamiDay.org > Search Miami City Ballet > and make your gift!

Victoria rehearsing 'Sleeping Beauty' at MCB School.

Victoria rehearsing ‘Sleeping Beauty’ at MCB School.

Joining a ballet company has been a dream of mine ever since I was a little girl, and now training at the Miami City Ballet is enabling me to reach my dreams. I remember watching Miami City Ballet perform George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker™ in Naples, FL, where I have lived since I was one. I told my parents that one day, that would be me up on stage dancing. The next year, I auditioned for The Nutcracker with MCB and have performed in their Nutcracker for the past seven years. During this time, I fell in love with this company; the dancers, their repertoire and the directors. I have participated in the MCB School summer intensive for the past two years, and this past summer I was invited to stay year-round at the prestigious school.

I remember trying to contain my excitement upon hearing the news, and also discovering that I had received partial scholarship was exhilarating. I could not give up this amazing opportunity to learn from some of the most incredible teachers and work in such an enjoyable atmosphere. Training at MCB School isn’t just about perfecting our technique, but learning how to have stage presence as well as stage craft. I can’t imagine not dancing with MCB School, and due to the scholarship support, I have been able to  get one step closer to making my dream a reality.

Victoria performing at the Youth American Grand Prix competition before she joined MCB School.

Victoria performing at the Youth American Grand Prix competition before she joined MCB School.

Your gift can make the difference in helping several young dancers achieve their dreams!

Make your gift count on Give Miami Day!

Counting Down to GIVE MIAMI DAY!

We are officially ONE WEEK AWAY from Give Miami Day! Give Miami Day is a unique, 24-hour online giving event that allows individuals in our community an opportunity to build a greater Miami by making a charitable gift to a local nonprofit. Every donation between $25 and $10,000 received through GiveMiamiDay.org on Give Miami Day will have a percentage of it matched by The Miami Foundation.

On Wednesday, November 20:

Visit GiveMiamiDay.org > Search Miami City Ballet > and make your gift!

This year, funds raised on Give Miami Day will support scholarships at MCB School!  Check out this video to see why scholarships are so important to our students.