Early Days

By Kayla

Ballet class before sunrise is definitely a shock to my system. Last week, I started dancing with American Repertory Ballet’s virtual trainee program in Princeton, New Jersey, but I still live in California. I’m slowly getting used to the early start each day, shifting my sleep schedule for the year.

Even though I am dancing at home, dancing as a trainee is already different from dancing as a conservatory student. New choreography and classes accompany the daily ballet barre, and I enjoy working with the variety of teachers and professional dancers. Learning repertoire from the ARB company dancers is especially interesting, as they recently performed the pieces that they are teaching us. Dancing as a trainee is a preview into what the schedule of a company dancer is like.

We’ve already started learning classical repertoire and contemporary choreography. Learning so much new choreography adds to my creativity – I’ve really enjoyed the variety of works we’ve learned so far. Because I don’t have a physical spot in the pieces, the typical stress of casting is lifted, and I can concentrate on the choreography and the tone of the pieces. I plan to focus on my personal artistry this year without the goal of a solo and with the goal of finding more depth in my dancing.

Zoom rehearsals aren’t the standard corps de ballet experience, but I’m finding different ways to learn from others. I can apply the other dancers’ corrections to myself, and observe their strengths to finetune my own dancing. I can also work to make sure my timing and musicality match that of the other dancers – provided that the internet doesn’t lag too much!

Occasionally, it is difficult to dance with expression and presentation within the walls of my home, but my teachers’ corrections and the pianists’ music push me to dance for an audience beyond the Zoom screen. I can’t wait to continue working in my virtual trainee program!