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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Remembering MCB School Days – Lisa

Post by Lisa Holzknecht Barroso

Although it has been 15 years since my days at Miami City Ballet School, the experience and memories are so much a part of who I am today.  It is hard to pin down a single favorite memory because there were so many. From the opportunity to learn from dance legend Edward Villella, to the daily inspiration from Miami City Ballet principals like Iliana Lopez and Deanna Seay, to the hours after hours spent with my Miami City Ballet School family – many of whom are still dear friends of mine today; the experience forever shaped my life. Dancing alongside the Company as a Snowflake, Flower and Chinese Tea during The Nutcracker gave me a first hand glimpse into the real life of a professional dancer, such a rare and treasured privileged for any budding ballerina. But, perhaps the best memories I have are the lessons that I learned through years of training at the School that, despite the fact that I no longer dance, continue to serve me in my career and aid in my success today:

·         Passion is everything – if you’re passionate about what you’re doing, you will commit whole heartedly to something, never look back and never feel like it is work.

·         Dedication, respect and loyalty will always come back to you two fold.

·         Take risks. Carve your own path. If you don’t take a big risk, you can’t get a big reward.

·         Being a mentor to someone, and believing in someone when others may not see their gifts, can be the most important thing in a young person’s life and change them forever.

To all the Miami City Ballet School teachers that put their blood, sweat and tears into me and the rest of the inaugural class of MCBS, days in and days out, thank you. My time at MCBS was the most special and formative of my entire life. I am forever grateful.

Lisa with Violette Verdy

Lisa and her son

Remembering MCB School Days – Patricia

Post by Patricia Delgado, MCB Principal Dancer

My memories of performing in the MCBS Student Showcase are all so wonderful.  One of the greatest things about performing when you are a student is the amount of detailed coaching that takes place.  You begin working on a ballet months before and spend every day breaking down each step with your teacher so that it becomes so much a part of your muscle memory that when you get to the stage, you can just dance your heart out and enjoy yourself. One of the main lessons I learned from all of my teachers at the School was that if you put the time and effort into every rehearsal, you can trust yourself the day of the performance and really let go.  If it weren’t for all of the skills I learned at the School, I wouldn’t have the basic tools I need to continue growing as a dancer in the Company.

When I was a student we did several mini performances/ lecture demonstrations at high school auditoriums and gyms.  We had one shot at the stage at the end of the year!   That performance became such an important focus in my life, that all of my excitement and anticipation would build up until that very moment when I was finally doing what I love!  Now, after 12 seasons with the Company and performing out on stage over 100 times a season, I find myself sometimes craving that feeling of only one show!  I believe that craving comes from the incredible memories I have from being a student!

Patricia Delgado as a student at MCBS.

One specific moment that I will never forget was working on Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux my last year at the School with Edward Villella!  It was always a nerve wrecking and exciting feeling when towards the end of the rehearsal process Edward would come in and coach us on last minute details.  I remember getting more butterflies in my stomach for those rehearsals than for the actual performance.  From the minute he stopped us to give us a correction on the very first step of the pas de deux, he was so calm and nurturing that all my nerves went away and it became all about the work and soaking up all of the valuable information he was passing on to us and  applying it to the choreography.  The way in which he expressed how important it was for us to “sing” the music with our bodies and phrase our steps immediately changed my focus.  After many rehearsals trying to perfect the lines I was trying to create and controlling my technique, he showed me for the first time the idea that there are an incredible amount of elements that are important to making a ballet come alive out on stage!  For example, when and how to connect to your partner, and how to “attack” the music, and even in a plotless ballet like Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux, to ask myself what am I trying to say and communicate to the audience through these steps.  I knew from working with Edward in the School how much I wanted to dance for him and continue to learn and grow from all of his knowledge and love of the art form!

Since graduating from the School in 2001, I love attending the Showcase! I  look forward to it not only to relive the magic I remember feeling, but to see what new and inspiring young dancers continue to come out of the School!  To see such talent is always a reminder of how special and how much hard work it takes to be a dancer!

Patricia Delgado with MCB dancers in Western Symphony. Choreography by George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust. Photo © Kyle Froman.

Remembering MCB School Days – Nicolas

Post by Nicolas de la Vega, Los Angeles Ballet

I trained at the MCB School from 2007 through 2009. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It was my first time living away from home and my first time ever being taught by Carter Alexander and Geta Constantinescu. Their classes were not only challenging but got me to push myself in a way that I had never been pushed before. They taught me so many things, from improving technique, to musicality, and to making every movement more and more interesting. Having that and watching the very talented Miami City Ballet perform was all very inspiring! I had the privilege of dancing the lead role in George Balanchine’s Valse Fantaisie for the Student Showcase. I had an amazing time rehearsing this ballet and getting such great input from my teachers and even Edward Villella to help improve my performance.  After the last show I felt very accomplished and proud of myself for working as hard as I did. I was able to show both my teachers and the audience why I love to dance. Having not met Carter and Geta, I would not be where I am today. Thank you MCB School for giving me such a great experience!

Nicolas de la Vega in Western Symphony. Choreography © George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust. Photo courtesy of Nicolas de la Vega.

Remembering MCB School Days – Jessica

Post by Jessica Shults

I look back on my MCB School days with the fondest of memories, and a huge amount of gratitude for the wonderful growth and opportunity I was allowed to experience there. I joined the School in its inaugural year. I was 11 and had just been dancing in Boston over the summer with my aunt. She was also a dancer who actually had performed on the Boston Ballet stage with Edward Villella in her youth. She told me that “Eddie Villella was opening a company school and that I had to go there”- so I did.

Jessica Shults as a MCB School student.

We were still in the MCB studios on Lincoln Road back then and I loved every moment! We would take classes with the Lincoln Road crowd staring in and then finish up the day by running over to Granny Feel Goods or the Cuban Café on the corner for eats. I have always said that the very best part of the School was being able to study alongside the Company. I would peek into the doorway everyday and watch Company rehearsals or Edward teaching class. I gained so much by just observing and I also figured out pretty fast that there wasn’t anything more that I wanted to do than dance with those incredible dancers and work for that amazing, charismatic director. When I was just 16 I auditioned for the Company. My teachers told me to go for practice so that I would be ready for the real thing the following year when I graduated. Soon after the audition I was called into Edward’s office and asked to join the Company on tour to the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta! I left his office trembling, went downstairs to my friends, and broke down in tears. They thought something was wrong but I was just so overwhelmed with happiness and excitement! The following year I finished my senior year dancing with the Company as an apprentice and continued on to dance for the next 10 years with those very dancers and director that I had admired so much. I am so honored to have had all the opportunities that both the School and the Company provided for me and grateful to both Edward and Linda for their commitment to building such a fine and exceptional arts organization here in Miami, my home.

Jessica Shults © Lucrecia Diaz

Jessica continues to be part of the Miami City Ballet family as a member of MCB’s Upper Room — the Company’s young professionals group.

The 2012 Student Showcase is May 18-20! Click here for more information.

Meet Ashley and Erick – MCBS Students

The 2011 Summer Intensive Program is in full swing! The students have adapted to the schedule and their new teachers, and are feeling at home in sunny South Beach!

Meet Ashley and Erick, two of the Advanced students in the program. They will be checking back with us again through the end of the Summer Intensive to share their thoughts on their training and time here at Miami City Ballet School. Stay tuned!