Summer Dance Diary: Week FOUR

Student McKenna Collins writes about her fourth week at MCB School’s Summer Intensive Dance Program in this week’s Summer Dance Diary!

Dear Diary,

We have just completed the fourth week of classes at Miami City Ballet (MCB) School’s 2013 Summer Intensive Program and I’m feeling very accomplished and inspired!

Coming into this program as an Apprentice with Madison Ballet in Madison, Wisconsin, I was eager to begin learning from such a renowned school. After having finished the fourth week, it is clear to me as to why it is one of the best schools in the country. From the spacious facilities to the worldly teaching staff, this program has been an incredible learning and growing experience…and it’s not even over yet!

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Our 5-Week Intensive Caught on Instagram

Michael with MCB School student Mayumi Enokibara posing for Paquita. Photo © Daniel Azoulay.

Michael with MCB School student Mayumi Enokibara posing for Paquita. Photo © Daniel Azoulay.

With the company out for the summer, students from across the country have flocked to our studios for MCB School’s 5-Week Summer Intensive Program. These ambitious students will train rigorously, six days per week, taking a range of dance classes including ballet, pointe, jazz, modern, variations, and pas de deux, among other classes, for five weeks strait! At the end of the program, these students will showcase how their hard worked has paid off in performance on July 26. And to capture all of the action on Instagram is … Michael Holden! In addition to attending the summer program, Michael is a part of the pre-professional year-round program at MCB School. Knowing the ropes here at MCB, Michael will document these next five weeks and reveal the discipline, endurance and passion it takes to be an aspiring dancer making his or her way through one intensive ballet program! Follow Michael at #MichaelMCBphotos!

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Ella Titus captures MCB School on Instagram!

Ella Titus in costume for Petipa's Paquita.

Ella Titus in costume for Petipa’s Paquita.

While the company is off for the summer, aspiring ballerina Ella Titus from MCB School will be taking over our Instagram feed this week! She will be snapping behind-the-scenes shots of MCB School students preparing for their upcoming Student Showcase, May 17-19.  The Student Showcase celebrates the hard-work, hours of training, and dedication that these outstanding students withstand each year in pursuit of becoming professional dancers.  Follow Ella #EllaMCBphotos to check out the dance stars of tomorrow!

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Back to MCB School

Post by Vanessa Woods, MCB School Resident Assistant

It’s the hump week in Miami City Ballet’s 5-week Summer Intensive Program. The bus ride on the way to the studio this morning was eerily quiet with sleeping ballet dancers, however by mid day, there is an energy buzzing through the air. I am one of the six chaperones living at the University of Miami with the 120 students. It’s almost surreal being back here because 10 years ago I came to this very summer program as a student. Then in 2006 I came back and studied here year-round before landing my first job. I have been dancing professionally ever since, currently with the Saint Louis Ballet. In an ever-changing world, it seems not much has changed here. It still has the incredible teachers, staff and fellow dancers who all come together to make this program a unique and a valuable learning experience.  Sixteen-year-old McKenna Karnes says that getting to have classes with so many different teachers is a real highlight. The real standout teacher is Mr. Edward Villella himself whom the girls got giddy talking about. They describe him in awe, saying, “he’s not scary” and love how he dances to the music throughout class.

The 2012 RAs! (I'm the second on the left)

After powering through a semi slow-moving first two weeks, little time elapses before friendships emerge that seem life-long. At the studio, students are focused but have a real sense of camaraderie as they lounge around the hallways resting or changing shoes in between their rigorous 4-5 classes a day. When we get back to the dorms, rare do I find a student not huddled in among a group of giggling bun-heads.  Regularly, you catch a gaggle of them flocking from the dining hall to scamper off to the pool, TCBY, Starbucks or some other popular close by destination. Last Wednesday broke up the busy week with our July 4th IndepenDance cruise. Packed into a two-story boat, the students dressed to the nines parade aboard after concluding a full day of classes at the studio. Soon, there is a pile of shoes growing and sweaty dancers crowd the top level of the boat for non-stop dancing leading up to the breathtaking fireworks overlooking the water. Even with training some six hours a day, it seems the students always have a reserve of energy saved for the lucky chaperones at night.

Hanging out on Biscayne Bay

By week three, the ever-important act of icing becomes key and many dancers are seen waltzing around the dorms with bags of ice for their various ailments. After a week of hard work and limited sightseeing, the students are able to sign up for exciting weekend excursions. Last weekend we went to Lighthouse Beach at Key Biscayne and Parrot Jungle. On Saturday’s beach trip, we unloaded our busses-o-ballerina and after turning a few heads, the dancers enjoy some sun on the sand, turquoise warm waters and traditional Dominican snacks under a shady pavilion.  With the snorkeling and Spiderman in IMAX trips this weekend combined with the end of program show just weeks away, the students have much to look forward to. After ten years since doing this summer intensive, I am amazed at how quickly the adaptation process to this whole type of program takes place. With quick adjustment to dorm life, dancing all day, making new friends, having roommates and eating cafeteria food, one would think these students have been doing this for years…then you realize, with this kind of talent, many of them have.  Still, there are some adjustments no amount of experience can prepare you for. When asked what she misses most about home life, 16 year old Morgan Povinelli says with smiling conviction, “home cooked meals”.

Remembering MCB School Days – Ashley

Post by Ashley Knox, MCB Corps de Ballet

Performing in Miami City Ballet School’s Showcase was a defining moment in my life. The experience helped me make the decision to become a professional dancer. This may seem late to other aspiring or professional dancers, but at that point in my life I was still undecided between college and ballet. My mind started to change once I stepped on stage. It was as if I had stepped into a dream, a dream not everyone has the chance to live.

Ashley Knox (as a student) in Serenade. Choreography © George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust.

That year we performed at The Jackie Gleason Theater, now known as the Fillmore. I was cast as the “Russian Girl” in George Balanchine’s Serenade. It was such a challenging role, very technical with high leaps and fast turns. I developed so much as a dancer with the opportunity of working with Nancy Raffa and Eric Quillier. Within the school environment I was able to slowly build strength and confidence over months of rehearsing. The hard work definitely paid off. By the time we were in the theater, I was ready and so excited! I loved, and still love, every aspect of performing — from preparing my shoes to applying my stage makeup and feeling the adrenaline rush while the overture begins. I had such a wonderful time dancing with my friends to the music of Tchaikovsky in beautiful long light blue tutus…what a dream. I remember one moment in particular, just before the “Russian Dance” in the ballet. The “Russian Girl” advances forward through the other dancers as if time has stopped only for her. She appears to have no awareness of her surroundings as the other corps girls cross in front and behind her. It was my favorite part and I remember thinking “take this all in, this may be your last time dancing on stage.” A chill came over me and I danced like I had never danced before. Then and there I realized I couldn’t possibly give this up! Ten years later I am still dancing with Miami City Ballet. I often think of my experience in the School to remind myself why I dance: because I love being a part of the magic. I hope that I help enchant the audience and take them to another world. I am so grateful to Edward and Linda Villella for their dedication to the School and to the Company. I would also like to express my appreciation for the support of donors. As a scholarship student, I would have never been able to live my dreams without their help.

Ashley Knox in Viscera. Photo © Mitchell Zachs