Imagine leaving your parents, friends and home country behind at the age of 13 to study ballet in New York City. For most young girls (and their parents!), such a prospect might seem overwhelming. But for recent Joffrey alumni Scarleth Alvarez, it’s the brave path she took to become a professional dancer. And that path has led her to success very quickly. Less than a year after graduating from Joffrey’s full time trainee program, Scarleth recently auditioned and was selected to dance with Cirque du Soleil – thanks in large part to the training and relationships she developed at Joffrey.
Learn more about Scarleth’s journey below!
Summer Intensives are Incredible Experiences
1) What was your experience with the Joffrey – what sessions / intensives or courses did you attend and for how long?
I come from the southern cone of the world, so it has been a huge privilege to take full advantage of Joffrey’s summer dance intensives each year. During my 4 years at Joffrey, I only missed one summer intensive and that is because I was named an ambassador to another NYC conservatory so I had to fulfill other specific duties/tasks.
I always felt that every summer intensive was better than the last one. Over the years I was able to take the Jazz & Contemporary, Ballet, HipHop, Musical Theater, Character, Cirque Arts program in Las Vegas (I was in the first-ever cohort to take that intensive!) and the Joffrey Las Vegas intensives. So, I’ve participated in quite a few of the intensives Joffrey offers!
I loved my time in the intensives. I was able to work with incredible teachers, make new friends from all over the world, watch Broadway shows and see different performances around the country, visit new cities and take part in shooting dance videos. I also received orientation/mentoring and learned from each new experience: all the intensives were incredible experiences.
I also had the privilege of being named a Joffrey Graduate Ambassador for the Cirque Arts intensive, which gave me the incredible opportunity to do my first professional audition for one of the world’s top entertainment companies, Cirque du Soleil, and with incredible results. The Cirque Arts intensive is directed by Matthew Prescott and Maximilian Baud, who are visionary, talented and wonderful teachers.
To me that’s most important in any Joffrey intensive – the quality of instruction.
2) What was your experience before attending one of Joffrey Ballet School’s programs or intensives?
I come from a beautiful Latin country, Chile, where I trained with a very versatile artistic base/foundation. There, I had wonderful directors and teachers who were very generous with me. I was also a finalist and winner of multiple TV talent shows. However, the artistic and professional resources and opportunities in Latin America are still somewhat limited. To take my dance to the next level, I needed to come to New York City and train at Joffrey.
Training at Joffrey Ballet School in NYC is to be at a whole different level. All the tools and the highest level of instruction are available for those who are hungry to learn and transform themselves to become true artists. That’s what Joffrey is all about.
Learning From World Class Artists and Instructors
3) What specific experiences stand out to you?
Joffrey has given me so many incredible moments and memories. One that stands out is my doing choreography for Joffrey Ballet’s spring performance. That was my first choreography opportunity; I felt it was an honor and a reward for hard work, passion and love for what I do. I’m thankful to my instructors for giving me that opportunity.
Being named as a Joffrey Ballet Ambassador was another experience that transformed my Senior project. With the mentoring of Ms. Era Jouravleva, I created the “TEHH NYC Program.” TEHH, or Talentos de Exportación de Habla Hispana (Spanish Speaking Talents from Abroad) was created as a cultural bridge to bring scholarship, training and housing opportunities to attract Spanish-speaking talent from outside the United States.
Also, becoming the Cirque Arts Program’s graduate ambassador gave me the opportunity to be seen and get invited to audition for Cirque du Soleil. And of course, graduating alongside my best friends, whom I consider my second family, and becoming the first and youngest Chilean international student to graduate in the history of the school.
Lastly, the love, advice, mentoring and guidance from my teachers Ms. Nancy Cole, M. Liz, Ms. Larisa, Ms. Gaiane, Ms. Stacy, Mr. Prescott and Mr. Baud to move forward on to the next level. I’m forever grateful to each one of you.
4) Favorite classes or instructors and why?
It is impossible for me to talk about my favorite class, because I must answer “ALL”. I have always considered myself a weirdo because everything that moves, moves me. It drives me to learn and dedicate many hours of hard work. Many people call it “sacrifice” but to me it is a fulfilling source of energy and happiness.
About my teachers, I wouldn’t be able to recommend a specific one since they are ALL a privilege in anyone’s artistic training. It’s a gift to learn from each and one of them. They’re world-class artists who, before becoming faculty members, shone as performers and choreographers. Now they are here for us, passing on what they learned and the giving the best of themselves without holding anything back. Each left their artistic stamp on me, and a piece of each of them will remain with me forever. It’s an honor and huge responsibility to be dancing under their name and trademark.
After you graduate from Joffrey you have the tools to be happy forever and extend that happiness to others. I feel blessed and just grateful for The Joffrey Ballet School.
Gaining a New “Dance Family,” Far From Home
5) Describe your experience overall – dorm life, after hours activities, sightseeing, etc.? favorite memories? Friendships or relationships developed?
I was only a 13 year old girl when The Joffrey Ballet School NYC opened their doors to me. My mother used to cry every day with me being miles away but I was fulfilled, filled with so much happiness. Joffrey Ballet School is my family here in America, my natural space in the world. Since day one I found support, love and an extension of a paternal image through Mr. Mosley, Ms. Era and Mr. Andrei who became my guides, mentors, inspirations and references in all aspects.
My friends provided love, support and many times were my refuge. They’re my extended family, those who go under any circumstance and fight alongside, present in the fun or bad days, accepted me for who I am.
The trainee experience is one of a kind. It is very complete in technique and academics. As the years go by you become an artist with the Joffrey label that is a guarantee of success, it’s prestige will accompany you forever.
I would like to point out that if you are not sure what type of artist you want to become, Joffrey offers two different trainee programs: Jazz & Contemporary and Ballet. You have the opportunity to define yourself by learning and switching programs. That was my case and I feel it strengthened me as a dancer.
JBS offers many options to let us explore our artistic decisions. It is a very diverse “family;” we accept others for who they are without discrimination. We focus on what we have to learn from each other, we build each other up and there is a spirit of giving you will find here. Although our roots are different, we learn to love, respect and value each other; we’re united by our artist souls.
6) What advice would you give to a young dancer who is considering a dance intensive?
Summer is a great opportunity to train. During this time you get to know the school, its programs and scholarship options, experience the dorm comfort, meet faculty members and more. It’s a unique experience where you’ll be meeting other students and making new friends in a family atmosphere, building your network, getting performance experience, and more.
So many intensives are available; you can come back every year and do a different intensive or audition to become a trainee. You’ll gain solid tools and increase your opportunities for success.
One word of advice is to be authentic. The teachers will give you solid guidance and if you are faithful to yourself they won’t want to change you; they want to support the best version of you. Focus on happiness because you will know if you are in the right place when you’re happy. Prove that you are determined, a hard worker, disciplined with large space to share love, passion and joy in everything you do.
Dancing With Cirque du Soleil As a Professional
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7) Since leaving the Joffrey, what have you been up to professionally? What should we know about your life now?
Phew! I’ve been very happy, these past 7 months were very intense. For 4 years, I only focused on evolving artistically, absorbing my teachers’ knowledge to the fullest, reading a lot and finishing my high school studies at the same time.
Since I graduated in June 2019, I was able to relax for a moment, take other classes in other styles, perform as a guest artist, get invited to do photoshoots, commercials, videos and start my personalized training plan. In this industry, you can’t stop training professionally.
I also became assistant choreographer at Columbia University, Montclair University and Alvin Ailey. I’m assisting one of NYC’s most recognized teachers and choreographers, Mr. Frederick Earl Mosley, teaching Latin Fusion at the prestigious ballroom dance studio “Stepping Out Studios.”
I also prepared dance material for MSA Talent Agency and flew to Montreal/Canada to the main audition for the renowned entertainment company “Cirque Du Soleil.” I participated in one of the biggest auditions they’ve had: It was a two day process, very high standards, multiple cuts and difficult work but happily I made it! I am already part of the team and I’m very grateful to everyone who was involved in and part of this incredible result.
Where Will Your Journey Take You?
From Chile to New York to Cirque du Soleil, Scarleth’s journey has taken her a world away from home and given her a new dance “family” to call her own. You can follow Scarleth’s continuing journey in the world of professional dance on Instagram: @scarlethalvareza.
Where might your dance journey take you? A summer dance intensive is the perfect place to find out where in the world of dance YOU want to go. Register today for an audition and get ready to have the time of your life this summer in NYC or any of our other locations around the United States and Europe.