Q&A With American Ballerina Stephanie G

I recently had the opportunity to ask one of my favourite Instagram dancers some questions about her time as a ballerina. Stephanie is an amazing dancer, her poise and dedication to ballet is incredible and she’s an incredibly kind person. The joy she gets from dancing is immense and that is easily evident from anyone who watchers her dance. Below are her responses.

Instagram: stephanieballerina

Q1: When did you start ballet?

I started ballet when I was a baby, I took mommy and me dance classes and from there just kept going.

Q2: Where do you currently dance?

I currently dance at Adamson’s ballet, but after this summer I will be dancing at the University of Oklahoma.

Q3: How long have you been en pointe for?

I’ve been en pointe for somewhere around 6 years.

Q4: What pointe shoes do you currently wear?

I wear Suffolk sonnets.

Q5: How did you first get involved in ballet?

I first got involved through mommy and me classes as a child.

Q6: What is your favourite variation?

Lilac fairy from sleeping beauty.

Q7: What company would you love to work for?

Honestly at this point I’m not sure that I have a preference, I’d love to dance pretty much anywhere.

Q8: Do you have a favourite memory/moment in ballet?

My favourite memories from ballet are all about my friends and I laughing and being silly together in the dressing rooms before class.

Q9: Who are your ballet roles models? Dancers that inspire you.

Maria Khoreva and Dusty Button.

Q10: Best advice you’ve ever received from a teacher?

You will never be perfect, there is always something for you to grow on. Even as a professional there will always be things you have to practice and fix. That’s what makes ballet so hard but so worth your time.

Q11: Classical or romantic tutu?

Classical.

Q12: What do you like to do when you aren’t dancing (your free time)?

When I’m not dancing I’m most likely hanging out with my friends or sleeping.

Q&A With American Ballerina Katy Schwarzweller

I had the opportunity to ask the incredible Katy Schwarzweller some questions about her incredible journey as a ballerina. She is a phenomenal dancer, graces the stage with poise and elegance. Katy currently dances with Ballet West. Her technique is outstanding and her love of ballet is unparalleled. Below are her responses.

Instagram: ks_ballerina

Q1: When did you start ballet?

When I was two years old

Q2: Where do you currently dance?

Ballet West Professional Training Division

Q3: How long have you been en pointe for?

I started when I was 8, so 10 years.

Q4: What pointe shoes do you currently wear?

I currently wear Freed of London pointe shoes in Classic Pro.

Q5: How did you first get involved in ballet?

My mom and dad had me start at our local gym so that I could do something while they were working out. After that I saw the nutcracker live for the first time and decided that I wanted to be a dancer, so my mom enrolled me at a more serious studio.

Q6: What is your favourite variation?

Either Walpurgisnacht, or Balanchine’s Divert No. 15…turning girl, or Emeralds from Balanchine’s Jewels

Q7: What company would you love to work for?

Pacific Northwest Ballet or Ballet West

Q8: Do you have a favourite memory/moment in ballet?

My favourite memory in ballet is when I performed the Solar and Nikiya pas de Deux from La Bayadere this past winter. It was my first pas de deux performed onstage and felt amazing about my dancing.

Q9: Who are your ballet roles models? Dancers that inspire you.

Tiler Peck, Christiana Bennette, and Alina Cojucaru are some of my all-time favorite dancers. Tiler Peck in particular because of the ease in her moment makes ballet look effortless.

Q10: Best advice you’ve ever received from a teacher?

The best advice that I have received from a teacher is to stay true to my dancing and be confident in what I do, because it makes your dancing look so much more mature and professional.

Q11: Classical or romantic tutu?

Romantic!

Q12: What do you like to do when you aren’t dancing (your free time)?

I love going on hikes and being in nature, baking and cooking (my dad’s a chef so I take from him), and hanging out with my friends. We don’t have much free time at all so I’m fairly busy!

Q&A With Upcoming American Ballerina Remington Foust

I recently had the opportunity to ask Remington Foust about her progress as a ballerina. She’s a great dancer with a high level of dedication. She’ll definitely have a pointe to prove later in the year. Below are her responses

Q1: When did you start ballet?

I was about 3 years old I believe

Q2: Where do you currently dance?

I currently dance at Ballet Royale MN and do shows with Twin Cities Ballet MN

Q3: How long have you been en pointe for?

I am currently not on pointe but will be receiving my shoes in August of this year.

Q4: What pointe shoes do you currently wear?

None at the moment 🙂

Q5: How did you first get involved in ballet?

I used to be (still am a bit) super clumsy! This helped with balance and I fell in love with it.

Q6: What is your favourite variation?

Definitely La Fille Mal Gardée or Act 1 Kitri

Q7: What company would you love to work for?

New York City Ballet or San Francisco Ballet Theatre

Q8: Do you have a favourite memory/moment in ballet?

When I was told I will be going en pointe in August. I’m still excited and nervous about it.

Q9: Who are your ballet roles models? Dancers that inspire you.

Misty Copeland, Isabella Boylston, and Maya Giron (who dances at my studio with me)

Q10: Best advice you’ve ever received from a teacher?

You already have the tools you need so use them.

Q11: Classical or romantic tutu?

Definitely Romantic Tutus

Q12: What do you like to do when you aren’t dancing (your free time)?

I am either playing video games, crafting, or watching Netflix as well as doing exercises

Q&A With American Ballerina Addie Richardosn

I had the pleasure of asking the incredibly talented Addie Richardson some questions about her phenomenal journey as a ballerina. Her grace and poise while on stage is outstanding and she is an incredibly dedicated and determined woman. The way she owns a stage is with her presence is unparalleled and without a doubt Addie will one day be a dancer girls look up to.

Q1: When did you start ballet?

I started ballet when I was three years old

Q2: Where do you currently dance?

I dance at The Art of Classical Ballet

Q3: How long have you been en pointe for?

I’ve been dancing en pointe for five years

Q4: What pointe shoes do you currently wear?

I wear Gaynor Minden pointe shoes

Q5: How did you first get involved in ballet?

My parents put me into it because I loved dancing

Q6: What is your favourite variation?

My favourite is the Pas D’esclave variation from Le Corsaire

Q7: What company would you love to work for?

I would absolutely love to dance with American Ballet Theatre, San Francisco Ballet or Boston Ballet to name a few!

Q8: Do you have a favourite memory/moment in ballet?

My favourite moment is the feeling of absolute happiness after a show

Q9: Who are your ballet roles models? Dancers that inspire you.

A few of the beautiful dancers that inspire me are Adiarys Almeida, Isabella Boylston and Misa Kuranaga.

Q10: Best advice you’ve ever received from a teacher?

The best advice I have received is that I should always put everything into a performance and never hold back.

Q11: Classical or romantic tutu?

Classical tutu

Q12: What do you like to do when you aren’t dancing (your free time)?

When I’m not dancing, I love to bake and read!

Q&A With American Ballerina Olivia Hansen

I had the opportunity to one of my favourite dancers on Instagram, Olivia Hansen some questions about her life as a ballerina. She is an incredibly stunning dancer who gracefully dances across the stage with a high level of commitment and dedication to ballet. She dances faultless and effortlessly, she has a love for ballet that is unmatched and undoubtedly will strive to be the best dancer she can be.

Instagram: olivia.eve.hansen

Q1: When did you start ballet?

I started dancing when I was 3 years old and started focusing on ballet specifically and intensely when I was 9.

Q2: Where do you currently dance?

Currently I dance with my teacher George Birkadze, a graduate of the Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Russia. For the past 2 months I have been taking open classes and privates with George. I also studied with Katya Strelnakova about 3 months ago. She is a graduate of the Perm Ballet School.

Q3: How long have you been en pointe for?

I have been on pointe for about 5 years.

Q4: What pointe shoes do you currently wear?

Currently I am using Grishko pointe shoes and also Freed of London pointe shoes

Q5: How did you first get involved in ballet?

My mother danced when she was a child. She did ballet up until I was 4 years old. She did not do ballet professionally but loved the art form.

Q6: What is your favourite variation?

My favourite variation would have to be either Giselle act I, Laurencia Act I or Don Quixote.

Q7: What company would you love to work for?

My dream company would be Houston Ballet or Boston Ballet.

Q8: Do you have a favourite memory/moment in ballet?

One of the most memorable moments for me would have to be performing the white swan pas de deux from Swan Lake. It’s is so technically and emotionally demanding as well as being a very long piece. I love being able to portray the white swan and develop Odette’s complex character.

Q9: Who are your ballet roles models? Dancers that inspire you.

My ballet role models are Ashley Ellis, Miss Kuranaga and Natalia Osipova.

Q10: Best advice you’ve ever received from a teacher?

The best advice I have ever received from a teacher was from my teacher George Birkadze. He told me that you have to believe in what you are doing, believe in yourself and the movement will come.

Q11: Classical or romantic tutu?

Classical tutu

Q12: What do you like to do when you aren’t dancing (your free time)?

In my very small amount of free time, I play the ukulele and I like to watch movies while I stretch. In the summer time I like to sail and surf. Other than that, I like to hang out with my friends

Q&A With American Ballerina Holly Munns

I had the chance to ask my Facebook friend Holly Munns some questions in regard to her journey as a ballerina. She is such wonderful dancer, so elegantly owning the stage with perfect technique. Plus she’s a kind and courteous person. Her love for ballet is immense and one day without a doubt Holly will fur-full her Ballet dreams.

Instagram: dancerschmoosh

Q1: When did you start ballet?

I started ballet when I was 4, but I didn’t get serious about it until I was 13. Meaning it was just a hobby at first.

Q2: Where do you currently dance? 

I danced with Nashville Ballet for two years in their Trainee program. Now, I’m looking at Ballet Palm Beach.

Q3: How long have you been en pointe for? 

I have been on pointe for about six years now. I stared late, at age 13, when many dancers begin pointe around 9-11.

Q4: What pointe shoes do you currently wear?

I currently wear Suffolks spotlight pointe shoe. I started pointe with Grishkos 2004.

Q5: How did you first get involved in ballet?

I don’t remember exactly how, but my mom tells me I watched dance shows growing up (like Annie) and I asked if I could start it. I took the beginner ballet/Tao class and I just fell in love with everything about it.

Q6: What is your favourite variation? 

This is a hard question. I love many variations and have yet to see/do one that I didn’t like. They are all so unique and different with their own difficulties. My favourite ballet is Sleeping Beauty and my dream role is to dance Aurora.

Q7: What company would you love to work for? 

I would love to dance professionally with Nashville Ballet. I love the way the company moves and how they are so invested in what they do. I love that the company is strong in both classical and contemporary ballet.

Q8: Do you have a favourite memory/moment in ballet?

Growing up you have teachers tell you corrections over and over, but one of the best moments in class is when it clicks. You finally understand what previous teachers and current teachers want. I also love the feeling of flying in ballet. I love jumping and traveling, so taking up space really makes you feel like you are flying through the air. My favourite memory was getting my first pair of pointe shoes.

Q9: Who are your ballet roles models? Dancers that inspire you.

There are many dancers that I look up to, some at Nashville Ballet and some off YouTube. Three dancers I look up to are Misty Copeland, Michaela DePrince, and Alicia Alonso. There are many more dancers that inspire me, some even my own classmates. However, these three women stick out to me. They are fighters and believers for themselves, it was a struggle to reach their dream but they made it. They are beautiful dancers with great power and integrity.

Q10: Best advice you’ve ever received from a teacher?

One of my favourite quotes is from my teacher at Nashville Ballet, Ms. Koenig said, “You have to think of the titanic. Beautiful on the top with a fiery engine on the bottom. No matter what is going on with the legs, the top must remain calm.”

Q11: Classical or romantic tutu?

Most people relate ballet to the classical tutus, but the romantic truths are pretty with their own statement. Gisele would look different with classical tutus and wouldn’t get the same feeling that romantic tutus give. I like both tutus, they both make me feel pretty and ready for stage.

Q12: What do you like to do when you aren’t dancing (your free time)?

I like to stay busy, so I am usually working or taking classes at college. Staying busy keeps me focused, but it damages my mental health. I am taking the next year to find more stress relief and relaxation methods so I can become a better me and dancer. I love photography and writing. I’m terrible at painting but it’s fun to do. I’m always up to try new things, I’d consider myself an adventurous person.

Contortionist in Focus: Alina Ruppel

If there is ever a Mount Rushmore or Hall of Fame of contortionists, the first name that would come to find in 2018 would have to be Alina Ruppel. This young German woman single handily changed contortion with her natural abilities. She’s even reached the point where a pose/move was named after her because she invented it and is the only person to be able to do it.

A Superstar is found

Alina faced struggles as an infant and a young child, she was diagnosed with a form of cerebral palsy, with the initial diagnoses was she could possibly be confined to a wheelchair. Movement was a struggle early on however as she grew and got stronger it became less of an issue. Contortion actually helped Alina strengthen her muscles. At the age of 9, Alina’s mother discovered her abilities and began training her. In 2009 Early on in her training, Alina trained under the guidance of legendary German contortion and gymnastics coach Gerd Rasquin and also her mother. At this stage, Alina’s incredible skills were quite apparent and very quickly the Ruppel Backbend was created. To this day, only a handful of contortionists have been able to replicate this move, all to differing results compared to Alina. For it to be a perfect Ruppel Backbend, the legs must be straight with the shoulders through the legs.

Failure leads to success

In 2007 Alina Ruppel auditioned for Das Supertalent (Germany’s got Talent) she was unsuccessful at progressing past the audition however this only spurred her on to continue to improve. In 2013 Alina attended the International Contortion Convention in Germany along with her mother where she performed her cabaret show which wowed audiences and even had the media bending over backwards to talk to her about her insane flexibility.

Eliza is born

In 2015 Alina partnered with Steffen Gunthel where he assisted her with developing her new act called “Eliza” and also developed a website that would rival that of Zlata.de, Flexilady.com where she originally used the alias Malina. It may not have been everyone’s cup of tea but there was no denying the website showcased Alina’s extreme flexibility and incredible talent. 2016 saw Alina travel to Las Vegas for the 2016 International Contortion Convention where she performed for those in attendance. Yet again she mesmerised the audience and media with her incredible flexibility and skills, her repertoire had grown to include the Marinelli bend. Alina continued to collaborate with Steffen on the new website, Alina also made a few television appearances in recent years, notably along side Ukrainian contortionist Ruslana Krutas on Dutch TV where they competed against each other. They both appeared in a handful of videos together for Flexilady.com.

Golden Girl

In 2017, Alina auditions for Das Supertalent again, this time with her Eliza routine. She got a “Yes” from all three judges and she even received the gold buzzer which sent her straight through to the finals. All of the judges were amazed at her abilities and were near speechless.

 

Taking over the world one Ruppel BB at a time

2018 saw the departure of Alina from Flexilday.com, due to a personal decision of Alina’s. Thus, meaning the site no longer received new content. Contortion lovers can still marvel at Alina’s incredible abilities by looking through her archival of videos and photos thanks to Steffen. Also, in 2018 Alina travelled to the USA to audition for America’s got Talent. This will go to air sometime in June where she will no doubly raise the eyebrows of the judging panel, Howie Mandel my turn away in fear if any other contortion auditions are to go by. Alina continues to train incredibly hard and still have the title of one of the worlds most flexible people.

Alina’s mother believes it’s important that Alina performs because it’s a gift and her talent should flourish so that people are able to see her and get joy from seeing her beauty with their own eyes.

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Q&A With Australian Ballerina Elisabeth Wenta

I was fortunate to have the opportunity to ask outstanding Australian dancer Elisabeth Wenta who currently is dancing at Washington Ballet in the USA. Elisabeth is an incredible dancer who graces a stage so wonderfully. Her poise and grace is unparalleled. Elisabeth has an incredibly bright future in ballet. Her passion for ballet is infectious. Below are her responses.

Q1: When did you start ballet?

I started ballet at 6 years old but begged to start earlier. I was allowed to start when I started school.

Q2: Where do you currently dance?

I’m currently in my last semester at the Washington School of Ballet in the Pre-Professional Program but am soon going back to train at Premiere Elite over the break.

Q3: How long have you been en pointe for?

I started pointe work at 11.

Q4: What pointe shoes do you currently wear?

I currently wear Energetiks, Almaz and have for the past 3 years.

Q5: How did you first get involved in ballet?

I first got involved by watching tv shows growing up like Angelina Ballerina and I begged my mum to start, also my mum was previously a ballet dancer and is now a ballet teacher.

Q6: What is your favourite variation?

I have a couple favourites, I love Esmeralda, The 3rd Odalisque solo from Le Corsaire, the Pas D’esclave also from Le Corsaire and the Odile black swan variation.

Q7: What company would you love to work for?

I would love to work for Queensland Ballet, The Washington Ballet, Orlando Ballet, but in general I would just love to work and dance.

Q8: Do you have a favourite memory/moment in ballet?

Dancing twice, over in New Zealand at the Alana Haines Awards was pretty memorable and special, and also the week before I moved over to America I completed my solo seal exam and didn’t know that I had gotten my solo seal until months later whilst I was overseas, that was special as it was my last RAD ballet exam to complete all of them and I was quite nervous and stressed about it.

Q9: Who are your ballet roles models? Dancers that inspire you.

My teacher Miss Sara (Sara Moore) has inspired me since I started having her at age 12, and still does and I’m so excited to go back to see her. She continually pushes me and brings out the best in me. I love watching Esmiana Jani, who is a company dancer here at the Washington ballet, I love the way she dances. Also, Iana Salenko … she has the most incredible lines and fluidity and still has such beautiful artistry.

Q10: Best advice you’ve ever received from a teacher?

From Miss Sara and Miss Kahlia back at home have always said that if you’re not working hard than someone else is working harder which is so true and has always pushed me, and also from Miss Gaither (Elizabeth Gaither) here in Washington has told our class that we need to treat every day in the studio like it’s our last because we don’t know what could happen, a bad injury or anything, so it could be.

Q11: Classical or romantic tutu?

I prefer a classical tutu, although in Giselle I think the simple romantic tutus are beautiful.

Q12: What do you like to do when you aren’t dancing (your free time)?

In my free time I love to swim! Or if possible go to the beach, I love preparing my food and cooking and I love spending time with my friends, besides ballet my friends make me the happiest.

Q&A With Incredible Ukrainian Ballerina Mariya Popova

I asked the incredible Mariya Popova for her responses to some questions about her development as a ballerina, Originally from Ukraine, Mariya has had the opportunity to dance in the USA and now is attending Kiev State Ballet School in Ukraine. Mariya is such an outstanding dancer, dances so gracefully and has an incredibly bright future ahead.

Q1: When did you start ballet?

I took my first ballet class when I was 4.

Q2: Where do you currently dance?

I just finished my second year at Kiev State Ballet School (КДХУ)! I’m not sure what’s next, but I’ll likely be returning to the States for the upcoming school year.

Q3: How long have you been en pointe for?

I’ve been on pointe for 6 years.

Q4: What pointe shoes do you currently wear?

I wear Russian Pointe Rubins!

Q5: How did you first get involved in ballet?

My father danced in his childhood, and my mom did rhythmic gymnastics. So when I was younger, they’d show me some the basics and I’d be walking on my tippy toes around the house all the time! They then asked me if I wanted to take dance classes and I said yes 🙂

Q6: What is your favourite variation?

I don’t think I have a favourite… Every ballet and variation is special in their own way, and I’d be happy to dance anything!

Q7: What company would you love to work for?

Any company with a welcoming community and a vast repertoire, ranging from classical to contemporary works. A plus if they tour often, as I love to travel and discovering new places and theaters!

Q8: Do you have a favourite memory/moment in ballet?

My favourite ballet memory would have to be the summer NYCB brought us out to Saratoga Springs, NY for a couple of performances in Circus Polka. I was training at The School of American Ballet, at the time. It was a lot of fun to be away from home for 2 weeks and doing what I love!

Q9: Who are your ballet roles models? Dancers that inspire you.

I’m inspired by a lot of professionals and even some aspiring dancers! When I see someone with unique qualities, in class or performing onstage, I try to learn from them and apply it to my dancing. A few people I look up to are Isabella Boylston, Catherine Hurlin, and Maria Kowroski.

Q10: Best advice you’ve ever received from a teacher?

I’ve gotten a lot of advice and corrections over the years, so it’s hard to recall which one hit me the most, or therefore was “the best”. One I do remember very vividly, however, was from when I was taking a class at a new studio. It was a pirouettes combination and I was playing it safe by doing doubles. The teacher stopped the music and asked me why I was afraid of, when we’re all here to learn, and he was absolutely right. So next time, I went for triples. It’s so important not to hold ourselves back, despite fear, or we are risking of not doing things at our fullest potential. Even if you fall, you’ll learn from it. If it works out, great! You’ve just maximized your comfort zone and increased level of capability. Always give it your all!

Q11: Classical or romantic tutu?

This is a tough one… Probably romantic.

Q12: What do you like to do when you aren’t dancing (your free time)?

In my free time, I like to read, write, bike around my neighbourhood, listen to music, and watch YouTube videos! Just try to relax as much as possible before tackling the next day of training, if it’s a hectic time of year.

Q&A With Australian Ballerina Imogen Wallace

I had the opportunity to ask the magnificent Australian dancer Imogen Wallace some questions about her experiences in ballet. She is a wonderful dancer who dances so elegantly on stage and the level of dedication to dance and ballet is unparalleled and graces the stage so exquisitely. Below are her outstanding responses.

Q1: When did you start ballet?

I started ballet when I was about 10 but started taking it seriously at 14,

Q2: Where do you currently dance?

I dance at Rogerson Elite Classical Training

Q3: How long have you been en pointe for?

I have been en pointe for about 3 years

Q4: What pointe shoes do you currently wear?

The shoes I am currently wearing are Bloch and the style Concerta.

Q5: How did you first get involved in ballet?

My mum put me in my first dance class which was jazz, I then started contemporary and soon my dance school decided to start a RAD ballet class and have done it ever since, I started to take it seriously once I moved to Rogersons.

Q6: What is your favourite variation?

My favourite variation is definitely Aurora act 3 I have never done it but it’s so beautiful when done well haha

Q7: What company would you love to work for?

As I’m an aspiring contemporary dancer Netherlands dans theatre would be my dream company, Scottish dance theatre or Sydney dance company.

Q8: Do you have a favourite memory/moment in ballet?

Nothing specific I can remember but I love watching old videos of myself dancing and seeing how far I’ve come, it’s so rewarding seeing the hard work pay off.

Q9: Who are your ballet roles models? Dancers that inspire you.

I love Misty Copeland and Violetta Komyshan, they have a mature and elegant look about them and are both very athletic, they aren’t the stereotypical ballet dancer which I love, as well as being down to earth, I think its hard to find dancers who not only dance but live their own life and inspire others.

Q10: Best advice you’ve ever received from a teacher?

The best advise I have ever been told was by a dancer from Australian Dance Theatre while I was there for a secondment week in the April just past, he told me to “live as much life as I can and keep getting experience, grow your mind as well as your body, no one wants an uneducated dancer” and I couldn’t agree more.

Q11: Classical or romantic tutu?

Romantic tutu for sure, so elegant.

Q12: What do you like to do when you aren’t dancing (your free time)?

I love making healthy raw desserts when I’m not dancing and watching Netflix