Joffrey Ballet School

#MyJoffreyLife: Personal Stories From Real Dancers

Joffrey Success Story – Scarleth Alvarez

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Joffrey Success Story – Scarleth Alvarez

Scarleth Alvarez

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

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. 

Joffrey Ballet School Success Story: Harold Trent Butler

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Joffrey Ballet School Success Story: Harold Trent Butler

From hip hop dancer to contemporary ballet artist and working professional dancer: it sounds like a transformation straight out of the movies, right? But it’s not – or at least, not yet. It’s the true life story of former Joffrey Ballet School student, Harold Trent Butler.

“The very first time I ever touched a ballet barre was at my audition for the Joffrey Ballet School,” Harold told us. “Thankfully, the school’s director, Era Jouravlev, gave me the opportunity of a lifetime!

By the time I left the school a few years later, I was already signed to one of New York CIty’s top agencies, MSA (McDonald/Selznick Associates). I was also featured in music videos with artists like SZA, appeared in several different television series and was selected to join the second company of the Martha Graham Dance Company,” said Harold. 

While at Martha Graham 2, Harold has performed in some of Graham’s most revered works, including Embattled Garden, Secular Games and Appalachian Spring. He’s also made appearances as a dancer in the Moncler show in New York Fashion Week, a David Bowie tribute show at the Brooklyn Museum, a recent GAP commercial – and so much more.

Want to learn more about how Harold made the leap from hip hop to contemporary ballet and professional dance? Check out our interview with him. 

A Life Changing Experience

What was your experience with the Joffrey – what sessions / intensives or courses did you attend and for how long?

I was a full-time student in the Joffrey Jazz and Contemporary Trainee (J&C) program. I joined the program in its 2nd year and it was an incredible ride. I stayed at the Joffrey Ballet School for three years before leaving to join the second company of the Martha Graham Dance Company.

I also attended Joffrey’s summer dance intensives every year while i was a student because it was very important for me to stay competitive year round. 

What was your dance experience before attending one of Joffrey Ballet School’s programs or intensives?

Before attending the Joffrey Ballet School I was predominantly a hip hop dancer. My goals were to get signed with an agent and work as a commercial performer, which I was able to achieve very quickly after I began training at the Joffrey Ballet School. 

On the other hand, what I did not expect was to become the dancer I am today. Not only am I well versed in many different styles and approaches to dance, I was able to achieve dreams I couldn’t have imagined. Working and touring in a professional level dance company was a life changing experience.

What specific experiences at the Joffrey Ballet School stand out to you?

The experience that stood out to me the most was the networking and all of the different artists that helped to mold me. Joffrey introduced me to so many teachers/directors/choreographers that I would later end up working with and for! The dance industry can be all about who you know and it definitely helped that all of my teachers were front runners in the industry. 

Joffrey Teachers Were My Village

What were your favorite classes or instructors and why? 

My favorite class was always Ballet. It was the most difficult for me with my background – but I watched myself literally transform each and every day while in class. I remember being so excited about the artist I was becoming at Joffrey.

My favorite teachers while at Joffrey were Breton Tyner-Bryan, Michael Blake, Angelica Stiskin, Max Baud, Nijawwon Matthews, Maleek Washington, Bradley Shelver, and Colleen Barnes.

They say “It takes a village to raise a child”; the amount of effort, attention, energy, and love i received from these teachers is incomparable. They were my village and I am incredibly thankful for each and every one of them and attribute my success in NYC to them. 

Describe your experience at the Joffrey Ballet School overall – dorm life, after hours activities, sightseeing, etc.? favorite memories? Friendships or relationships developed?

I lived in the Grove Street dorms, which was a dream come true: living and dancing in the center of New York City’s West Village. I made lifelong friends and mentors who have become more like family! We support each other’s projects – and continue to inspire each other as a collective near and far!

What advice would you give to a young dancer considering a dance intensive?

Simple. I would urge them to “be the dancer that has it all”: That’s our motto at Joffrey and that’s how we study. We train to stand out. If you want that job, or that agent, or to dance in that company – you have to learn from the people who’ve already done it! I found those people at Joffrey.

What’s happening currently in your life? Are you currently involved in any productions or how are you using your Joffrey training?

After recently finishing my contract with Graham 2, I just began my 3rd year as a commercial artist with MSA agency. I was recently featured in a GAP commercial and will be featured in a new Netflix series to be released this spring!

Are You Ready to Be the Next Dancer That “Has It All?”

“I could not have done it without my mentors from the Joffrey Ballet School,” said Harold. “Joffrey taught me to be more than just a dancer. I was taught to be an artist.”

Stories like Harold’s show that there’s not just one path to becoming an artist and professional dancer, but dancers who succeed have a few things in common. One is a great attitude: a willingness to work hard and try new things, like learning to love ballet when your background is in hip hop. Another key to success? A team of mentors in your corner and the right training to bring the versatility that today’s dance companies and agencies are seeking. 

The attitude and desire come from you, but Joffrey can deliver the rest of what you need to become the next dancer who “has it all.” 

Register with us today to audition for a spot in one of our 2020 summer dance intensives. And keep up with Harold’s continuing story by following him on Instagram: @swanksbutler

Joffrey Summer Dance Intensive Success Story: Aidan Wolf

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Joffrey Summer Dance Intensive Success Story: Aidan Wolf
At just 15 years of age, former Joffrey Ballet School trainee Aidan Wolf has been dancing for most of her life. She began her dance training at age three in her home state of Colorado, competing as a dancer and studying with the Colorado Ballet Academy until attending her first Joffrey summer dance intensive in Los Angeles at age 10.
That first Joffrey summer intensive soon led to accepting a merit scholarship to study with us in New York City as a Jazz and Contemporary trainee.
Today, Aidan is living the dream: She’s dancing with Complexions, one of America’s top contemporary ballet companies. Aidan is one of just three trainees and apprentices selected to perform this year in Complexions’ 26th season at the Joyce Theater in New York City. 
As the Joyce season wound down, Aidan took a few moments to answer questions for us about her experience with Joffrey and how she got her start in the world of contemporary ballet.

Gain Versatility and Diversity with Joffrey

What was your experience with the Joffrey, Aidan? What sessions / intensives or courses did you attend and for how long?
My experience with Joffrey was extremely beneficial over the multiple years that I attended both intensives and the Jazz and Contemporary training program in New York City. 
As a Jazz and Contemporary trainee, I thoroughly explored versatility and new ways to create images and movements with my body that have stuck with me since then throughout my professional career. I visited numerous informative locations and sessions connected to the Joffrey name with diverse teachers at them all, that have helped me grow into the dancer I am today.
What was your experience before attending one of Joffrey Ballet School’s programs or intensives?
My experience before the Joffrey was primarily based in ballet although I was a competition dancer when I was younger. From the start of one of Joffrey’s intensives, I started to realize what my true calling in the dance world was, which turned out to be contemporary ballet.
What specific experiences stand out to you?
Certain Joffrey experiences that stand out to me include my first Joffrey intensive in Los Angeles with Josie Walsh as our Artistic Director. Josie Walsh became both a close friend and a mentor; she really put me on my path to where I am today and I am eternally grateful. 
Another incredible experience was my start with the Joffrey Jazz and Contemporary trainee program in New York City, headed by Angelica Stiskin. I was amazed to see both the diversity and the level of self critique that it took to put us on our professional paths.
What were your favorite classes or instructors and why?
Some of my favorite classes in particular include contemporary ballet with Josie Walsh, contemporary with Angelica Stiskin, contemporary groove with Phil Orsano, and ballet with Michael Waldrop and Bradley Shelver, although I found all of the classes extremely beneficial and I found particular uses for all of them.

Develop Close Relationships with Teachers and Mentors

Please describe your experience overall – dorm life, after hours activities, sightseeing, etc.? favorite memories? Friendships or relationships developed?
Although I never had the chance to stay at one of the Joffrey dorms, I did experience most things that Joffrey dorm members experience and I am grateful to say that I thoroughly enjoyed all of them. The diverse activities and individuals I was able to meet have stuck with me up to this day and I am sure will into the far future. I developed close relationships with many of my teachers and mentors and I am extremely grateful for that as well as the relationships I acquired from my fellow dancers.
What advice would you give to a young dancer considering a dance intensive?
Some advice that I would give to a young dancer looking for intensive opportunities is to find a balance. By that, I mean find a balance between being confident in yourself and being reserved; to act as a sponge for all the information you will obtain. Find a balance between pushing yourself to the limit to achieve growth and being attentive to learn from others. 
From this balance you can learn the work ethic, the drive, and the passion that it takes to attain a professional career if you are interested. 
My number one piece of advice is to always be passionate in whatever you pursue. That passion, especially in dance, will be what drives growth and success in every aspect of performance.

Passionately Pursue Your Dance Dreams!

If you want to passionately pursue your dance dreams like Aidan, the time is now to register to audition for a Joffrey summer dance intensive in any of our locations around the United States. You never know what opportunities that first intensive could unlock for you!
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Joffrey Ballet School Success Stories: Tovi Wayne

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Joffrey Ballet School Success Stories: Tovi Wayne
Many of the dancers considering the Joffrey Ballet School’s summer dance intensives ask whether our intensives can really help further their dance goals, ambitions and dreams. We think the best way to respond to those questions is to let some of our successful past students speak for us. That’s why we’re thrilled to bring you an interview with one of our most recent Joffrey Ballet School success stories: Tovi Wayne.

Joffrey Ballet School Success Story Tovi Wayne

Tovi is currently a featured performer on Broadway with the mega-hit production of Mean Girls. A latecomer to the world of dance, Tovi has achieved his dreams through dedication and hard work (he used to paint the hallways and take out the trash at the Joffrey as a side job!).
He also trained with some of the best dance instructors in the world here at the Joffrey, including Michael Blake and Angelica Stiskin in the Joffrey’s Jazz and Contemporary Trainee Program. 
More recently, Tovi was a featured faculty member with the Joffrey’s Musical Theater summer intensive in New York City last summer, teaching his own Mean Girls-inspired choreography. It has been inspiring to watch his journey from a student at Joffrey with dreams of dancing on Broadway, to a Broadway performer and a member of our Joffrey Faculty.
We recently asked Tovi some of the questions that we believe are top of mind for many of the young dancers considering attending one of the Joffrey’s summer dance intensives. Here are the questions we asked, and Tovi’s responses.

Q and A with Tovi Wayne

What was your experience with the Joffrey Ballet School? What sessions or intensives did you attend and for how long?
I attended the Joffrey Ballet School’s Jazz and Contemporary program from 2014-2017.  At the time the Jazz and Contemporary program was coordinated by Michael Blake, who brought a beautiful vision, passion, and discipline to the program. 
My time at the Joffrey Ballet School was my college experience and education. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I learned about hard work, admirability, to learn from your mistakes, and to understand your values as an individual and artist. 
What was your dance experience before attending one of JBS’s programs or intensives?
Before my time at the Joffrey Ballet School I wasn’t sure what I wanted for my future. I had always done theater growing up but I knew there was something more that I wanted to accomplish. For me, that was educating myself in dance. 
Dance was something that didn’t come naturally to me. I didn’t start dancing until I was 17 and even then I was known for having “two left feet on backwards”. Dance was an insecurity, which then transformed into an activity I wanted to get better at doing. Then it became something I LOVED. Now it’s what I strive to get better at, every chance I get. 
What specific experiences stand out to you?
That’s a very hard question to answer. Every experience stood out to me. I like to say “every opportunity is an experience, and every experience is an opportunity”. But if I had to narrow it down to one it would be my time working with Angelica Stiskin in her piece called “Pride,” in which I was one of the soloists. 
At the time, Joffrey Ballet School presented a dance concert called Billboard’s II in 2017. It was dedicated to the forever iconic Prince Rogers Nelson. (May he rest in peace.) I remember feeling so privileged to represent Prince’s songs and artistry through movement. That was an experience that I will forever cherish and to this day I’m still a hardcore Prince fan. 
Shout out to Joffrey Alumni Robert Redick as well, for educating me on the genius of Prince!
Favorite classes or instructors and why?
My favorite classes would include Bradley Shelver’s ballet class, Beatrice Capote’s jazz class, and Michael Blake’s modern class. These classes were all taught with passion, influence, and a desire to inspire. I always appreciated those instructors for their ability to share their knowledge of an art form that they so clearly love.  
Describe your experience with the Joffrey overall – dorm life, after hours activities, sightseeing, etc.? What are your favorite memories, friendships or relationships you developed?
My overall experience summed up in one word would be growth. I learned so much, what it was like to socialize authentically, how to cook for myself, to take care of my body when it asks for rest, to constantly be surprised and inspired by everyone around me, and my favorite part, exploring New York City. The list goes on. 
NYC was literally my campus. Everyday was a new adventure and to this day I am still discovering new things about this magical place. If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere, so give it a shot while you can!
What advice would you give to a young dancer considering one of the Joffrey’s summer dance intensives?
If I had to give you any advice, it would be to simply TRUST YOURSELF!
To quote Hamlet:  “To thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.” 
Dream on and thanks for reading!

Could You Become the Joffrey’s Next Success Story?

If you dream of dancing on Broadway like Tovi, or if you’re more interested in contemporary or classical ballet, or any other dance disciplines, a summer spent with the Joffrey at one of our summer dance intensives could be the next step toward making those dreams a reality.
Register with us today to audition for one of our intensives and take the next step toward your dance future!

Joffrey Summer Dance Intensive Success Story: Amber Weissman

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Joffrey Summer Dance Intensive Success Story: Amber Weissman
Where might dance take you? Joffrey Ballet School’s summer dance intensive is a great place to start discovering all the paths dance can take you down.

For Amber Weissman, who graduated from Joffrey Ballet School in May of 2019, dance led her to a contract with RWS Entertainment Group, as a performer in RWS’s production of The Charlie Brown Christmas Spectacular in Mason, Ohio.
But that performance opportunity was just one path Amber has followed. After the show closed, Amber traveled to Memel, a small town in rural South Africa that is still recovering from apartheid. There, Amber is volunteering for three months as a dance teacher and is curating the Memel Primary School’s first-ever dance program.

Why Memel?  “Due to its past, Memel has been left struggling with poverty and it’s still very much segregated,” says Amber. “Unemployment is high, with families living in uninsulated shacks, nutrition is poor and until recently there weren’t many extracurricular activities for the children, especially the young girls.” 
So Amber traveled to Memel through a Vermont-based nonprofit organization called SheWinS, which is dedicated to providing after school activities and empowering the young girls of Memel.
The mission for the dance program Amber is creating at Memel Primary School is to create a fun and safe environment for the children to express themselves through dance. 
“The children here aren’t exposed to all of the different styles we have in the US,” said Amber.  “They have their traditional Zulu dancing and now we are introducing them to techniques like Jazz, Ballet, and Hiphop.”
It’s an unusual path for a professional dancer, but a rewarding one for Amber. And it all started with a Joffrey summer dance intensive.
We asked Amber about her experience with the Joffrey.

Finding Her Voice at Joffrey

What was your experience with the Joffrey? What sessions / intensives or courses did you attend and for how long?

When I was about 12 years old I did my first Joffrey Ballet School summer dance intensive. It was the Jazz and Contemporary program in New York City. Being exposed to so many new artists and experiences in that short intensive allowed me to find a deeper love for dance and for NYC.
After that,  I continued to do the intensives every year, mostly the Jazz and Contemporary intensives but also the Experience, and one year I did the ballet intensive in Denver because I’m from Colorado. 
When I was 16, my mom and I decided it was time to get serious if being a dancer was really what I wanted. I squeezed in the last of my credits and graduated high school a year early in order to move to NYC and join the Joffrey Ballet School’s Jazz and Contemporary year round trainee program. 
After three years of being in the Jazz and Contemporary program, especially under the direction of Angelica Stiskin, I found my voice as an artist, was able to work with some of the best teachers and choreographers, gained so many life-long connections with other dancers, and received my Certificate of completion. 

What was your experience before attending Joffrey’s programs or intensives?

Before attending Joffrey I grew up competing with a small studio from my hometown. My few hours a night of dance class after school wasn’t cutting it for me and I was always craving more. I decided I wanted to make it a priority and Joffrey allowed me to do so. 

Immersed In Dance and City Life

What specific experiences stand out to you?

I loved getting to work with MADBOOTS dance company. They’re my favorite dance company in the city and it was really surreal having them come and set work on us at Joffrey Ballet School. 
I also loved doing an Immersive art gallery installation with Terk Waters. It was such a great experience getting to perform so close to your audience. Because of that experience I now know that I would love to do immersive dance theater one day. 

What were your favorite classes or instructors and why?

I always loved Bradley Shelver’s ballet classes. Bradley is one of the best teachers I’ve ever had. Not just in dance but in everything. It seemed that almost every class with Bradley I would have some sort of huge epiphany and things would just click in my mind and body a way they never have before. 
I also loved Contemporary with Angelica Stiskin. I’ve never felt so safe and yet so uncomfortable in a class all at once. A safe space to be pushed out of your comfort zone. Angelica’s class also gave me a newfound appreciation for movement and all of the different textures your body is capable of. 
Describe your experience at the Joffrey overall: dorm life, after hours activities, sightseeing, etc.? Do you have any favorite memories, friendships or relationships that you developed during your time with us?

I stayed in the dorms my first year of the Jazz and Contemporary trainee program. It was a great transition to living in the city because I wasn’t alone. I had all of the other students who were also new to New York and Joffrey Ballet School.
The dorms also allowed me a chance to grow really close to the other students. I met my best friends through Joffrey, one of whom I live with today. Some of my favorite memories are from my time at Joffrey. One of my favorite memories is that after classes my friends and I would go eat at By Chloe or hang out in Washington Square Park. 

What advice would you give to a young dancer considering a summer dance intensive?

My advice would be to stay open minded while taking classes from all these different teachers who have different ideas. Also, try to take everything in during those few weeks. I used to keep journals of corrections and quotes that my teachers had given me. 
What’s next for you, Amber?
Right now I’m focused on my work with the young dancers in Memel. In the past SheWinS has provided soccer and track and field opportunities for the kids there. But this is the first time a real dance program is being offered to the students. Depending on how this program turns out SheWinS is considering continuing dance classes in the future. 
So right now I am laying the groundwork for dance technique with the kids and developing a curriculum that makes sense for an introductory dance program. At the end of the semester, we will be holding a showcase for all of the students providing them a chance to perform and show the community all that they’ve learned throughout these few months. 

Where Might Dance Take You?

Amber is one of many Joffrey alumni who is enjoying opportunities to travel, perform and collaborate with others who are passionate about dance. If you’re ready to learn more about where dance can take you, register today to audition for one of Joffrey’s summer dance intensives!

Joffrey Summer Dance Intensive Success Story: Angelina Barbosa

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Joffrey Summer Dance Intensive Success Story: Angelina Barbosa
We caught up with 18 year old Angelina Barbosa on the phone one late January afternoon on her way to the studio from an audition. After taking a short break following the close of her last show, Angelina was back to work, auditioning for her next role but eager to answer a few questions and share her experiences with the next generation of Joffrey summer dance intensive students. 
Rachel Neville Photography

Q and A with Joffrey Success Story Angelina Barbosa

Hustling from the dance studio to the audition and back again just in time for a phone call, Angelina talked fast – recovering from the nerves and excitement that accompanies every audition. But she graciously participated in our question and answer session and provided insight not only into what makes the Joffrey program so unique, but to what life as a new professional dancer is really like.
What was your experience with the Joffrey? What sessions, intensives or courses did you attend and for how long?
I attended the Jazz and Contemporary summer dance intensive for three weeks. Then, a year later, I joined the Joffrey Jazz and Contemporary trainee program. If you do the whole program it is four years, start to finish, and that’s what I did. 
I started kind of young. At the time I started, the Joffrey program was mostly dancers 18 and up, with a couple of 18 year olds and mostly 20 year olds and up. I attended my first summer dance intensive when I was 13, and a year later began attending as a year round trainee when I was 14. The four years at Joffrey was basically my four years of high school. I stayed so that I could graduate at 17. After Joffrey I started auditions that summer as soon as I turned 18. And I mean, who doesn’t want to dance all day long?
I ended up being accepted as a year round trainee by trying out for the summer intensive. I was accepted into the Jazz and Contemporary and Ballet intensives, and both year-round trainee programs. 

Joffrey Was the Perfect Door

What was your experience before attending one of Joffrey Ballet School’s programs or intensives?
Prior to being accepted into Joffrey, I was a “studio kid.” I am from New Jersey and as a kid I spent all my time at the dance studio when I wasn’t at school. Where I’m from in Jersey, dance is huge. I started at three and by the time I was in school I had a full studio life, attending public school and going back and forth to the studio every day.
By the time I was 11 or 12, I knew I wanted to pursue dance professionally. Joffrey was really my entrance to the life. If I hadn’t gone to Joffrey I’d be a different dancer: Joffrey was the perfect door.
During your time with Joffrey, what specific experiences stand out to you?
So I attended the summer intensive when I was 13. It was a year between that and attending the trainee program. 
The intensive is obviously different than the trainee program. In the intensive they’re trying to pack a year of teaching into three weeks. So my experience that first summer was very fun and I learned a ton.
I stayed in the dorms during the intensive and it was my first time being in the city on my own. Being from New Jersey, I had only ever gone into the city on day trips with my family. The intensive was my first time living and being there for three weeks straight. 
The intensive was a great introduction to my Joffrey trainee experience. It made me want to come back and attend the trainee program full time. It was really fast paced because it was such a short time. We had classes all day long and learned so much, so quickly.
Our showcase at the end was so much fun, too. I remember one choreographer, Bradley Shelver, was amazing and so intelligent about dance. I loved his piece. I was really happy when he ended up being my ballet teacher later in the program.
Another great instructor in the intensive was Candace Franklin. She’s a well known Jazz teacher, and is just a high energy, fun and sweet woman I’m so happy to still be in contact with, five years later. You can form such great relationships with the intensive instructors, and if you later decide you want to pursue dance professionally, those relationships are only going to help you.
What were your favorite classes or instructors and why?
I mentioned Candace and Bradley during my first intensive. During the trainee program they remained two of my favorites. 
The trainee program actually changed while I was attending. I had Michael Blake, the previous Artistic Director, for the first two years.
Under him, the program was more modern-based, less emphasis on commercial dance. But he really focused on a lot of the basics dancers need to practice to get good at their craft. 
One of my favorite teachers from that faculty was JoiLynn Hopkins. She taught a lot of classes: hip hop, street jazz, and jazz technique. She was a good mentor and I looked up to her for always being so genuine and kind.
Later the Artistic Directors changed. Angelica Stiskin became director my third year. She’s Joffrey’s current Artistic Director. With her came new faculty. I enjoyed meeting new teachers and making new connections.
Angelica made the program more well rounded with additional emphasis on the commercial aspects while still holding the foundation and basic technique: all the styles a well rounded dancer needs to succeed. 
Out of all the schools I know of that have trainee programs, Joffrey is the only one that offers such a well rounded program to make you the best dancer possible.
As I went through I realized Joffrey was the only program where you can get such well rounded exposure to so many styles of dance.

That First Intensive Changed Me

Describe your experience during the summer dance intensive overall in terms of the dorm life, after hours activities, sightseeing, etc.? Do you have any favorite memories, friendships or relationships you developed?
I’ll be honest, it was scary at first and overwhelming, but also exciting to step into the city life, coming from a suburban or small town. I was completely immersed in the classes. After hours, I remember going out for ice cream with other girls at the dorms. We always went with an RA – you’re always supervised if you’re under 18, which is different from some of the other dance intensives offered in the city so it’s great even if you’re a bit younger..
Right away you really feel how in New York City, people are so busy and driven. They have places to go, things to do. It’s different than what I or the other students were used to. I feel that the experience of being a student in that first intensive changed me because before that, even though I’d been dancing for years, I had little knowledge of what it really took to succeed as a dancer. Not just as a dancer – but as a dancer in New York. It made me want to come back and continue to learn and grow.
In terms of friendships, I did make friends at that first intensive, even though I was a bit younger than some of the other students. I’m still good friends with another student now, five years later. She was from Jersey too, so after the intensive we met up. In fact, we kept seeing each other everywhere! I ended up becoming an assistant for a dance convention called Artists Simply Human (ASH) and she was there too. She helped me get that job and we’re still good friends today. 
Dance is such a small community and those relationships are so important. She’s in college now at USC but when she’s home I’m sure we’ll still see each other.
What advice would you give to a young dancer considering a dance intensive?
Go for it! If you are able to go, showing up is half the battle. 
A lot of people get intimidated walking into that first audition or class and it’s easy to be stressed in a room with others you think have more experience. It can hold you back and is scary because you’re putting yourself out there. But I would say go for it. Showing up is half the battle, and once you’re in the room, it’s up to you to try your hardest. You just have to get out of your own way. Everyone in the room wants you to succeed, especially the people that sit on the other side of the table. You can feel the love and support. 
Auditioning or working with a higher level of instructor is not really as much about who is the best in the class as you might think. So just let yourself have the experience. At the end of the day it’s not about who’s first or up in the front, so just focus on you and let yourself become a better dancer. And most of all, have fun!
So what’s next for you, Angelina? You just had an audition this morning…
Well, I just finished the Radio City Christmas Spectacular and took a break. I went home and gave my body a break from doing 16 shows a week, and then 20 shows my last week. It was a super intense schedule and high intensity show so I had to take a short vacation. Now I’m back taking classes, working on my craft. It’s audition season during January and February so for the next little while I’ll be going to every audition I can and trying to find that next perfect role.
And last question: How do you like the life of a professional dancer?
You know, it’s never what you expect. Joffrey’s programs prepare you as much as possible to live this life by making you a versatile dancer capable of working anywhere. But there’s no security blanket. You’re going from job to job.
You’re always hustling and working so hard to get each job. But the dance community is great; we help each other out and we’re all devoted to our craft and passionate about it.
So I guess what I’d say is that it’s never what you expect, but it’s everything you want it to be. I do really love it and the fact that I get to do it as my job is amazing. Even if I have to do a side hustle, it’s okay because I’m living the life I want. It’s stressful but rewarding. And the best part is when you get that yes: that makes all the rejection and hard work worth it.

Dance Into Your Future With Joffrey!

Whether you dream of dancing professionally like Angelina or simply strive to become the best dancer you can be, a Joffrey summer dance intensive can help you take the next step toward your future. Register today to audition for one of Joffrey’s summer intensives in New York or across the United States!

Joffrey Ballet School Summer Dance Intensive Success Story – Kenedy Kallas

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Joffrey Ballet School Summer Dance Intensive Success Story – Kenedy Kallas
A Joffrey Ballet School summer dance intensive can be a time for learning and growth. It can also be an opportunity for a dancer to pursue new interests, change directions or discover their true passion. Kenedy Kallas, currently on tour with the world-famous Nederlands Dans Theatre, is a dancer who did exactly that.
Kenedy attended the Joffrey San Francisco summer dance intensive for two summers, in 2014 and 2015 when she was just 14 and 15 years old. Coming from a competition dance studio, Kenedy hadn’t yet discovered her love for classical and contemporary ballet or concert dance. Her experience with the Joffrey led to her choosing to become a concert dancer. 

Joffrey Ballet School San Francisco Ballet and Contemporary intensive Artistic Director Josie Walsh says of Kenedy,
Kenedy came to my Joffrey SF program for two summers in a row where her love for classical and contemporary ballet and concert dance grew.  I continued to mentor and choreograph on her for years after; She is an extraordinary talent and on the path to becoming an international star!”

Kenedy Kallas Finds Her Direction at Joffrey

Since attending Joffrey’s San Francisco intensive, Kenedy has traveled around the world, studying and performing with some of the world’s leading companies and choreographers. After her summers with the Joffrey, Kenedy traveled to Russia to study with Yuri Smekalov at the Mariinsky Ballet in St. Petersburg. She danced in productions of Swan Lake and the Nutcracker with the San Francisco Ballet. 
And now at just 20 years old, she’s been selected as a contract dancer with the Nederlands Dans Theatre.
Kenedy was gracious enough to take some time out of her busy touring schedule and answer a few questions for us about her experience with the Joffrey Ballet School’s summer dance intensives and the role they played in helping her find her direction as a dancer.

Questions and Answers With Kenedy Kallas

What was your experience with the Joffrey? What sessions / intensives or courses did you attend and for how long?
I attended the Joffrey San Francisco contemporary ballet program in 2014 and 2015. It was such an amazing, diverse program that I attended two years in a row! The program was three  weeks which was a perfect time frame for me. 
What was your experience before attending one of JBS’s programs or intensives?
The Joffrey Ballet School’s San Francisco intensive was my very first summer intensive. I obviously loved it enough to come back the following year.

Discovering Process and Performance With Joffrey

What specific experiences stand out to you?

One experience that stands out to me from the Joffrey San Francisco program is the creation process and performance. The last two weeks of the program you get a chance to be created on by an incredible choreographer. You then perform the work at the end of the program. It’s a glimpse into the professional concert dance world and I think it’s a very important experience for young dancers. 

What were your favorite classes or instructors and why?

I truly enjoyed and learned so much from all of the classes and instructors in the intensive. All of the teachers at the intensive had so much knowledge to share and pushed me to be my best!

One instructor that I can genuinely say has changed my life and dancing is Josie Walsh, the Artistic Director of the San Francisco intensive. She tremendously helped my technique, introduced me to the concert dance world and most importantly, she believed in me. I wouldn’t be where I am today without her guidance. 

Describe your experience overall: dorm life, after hours activities, sightseeing, etc.? Do you have any favorite memories, or friendships and relationships developed?

I overall had a great experience at the intensive. I was very young at the time, just 14 and 15 years old, and I always felt very safe in the dorms. The dorms provided food and it was always great. I remember the intensive provided fun activities for after hours or days we weren’t in the studio. I also developed friendships that will last a lifetime! 

What advice would you give to a young dancer considering a dance intensive?

Go for it! I always improved and learned the most at dance intensives. If you go into a dance intensive with an open mind and heart, work your hardest and have fun, you will definitely grow as an artist and human. 

Ready to Discover Your New Direction? Register With Joffrey Today!

Kenedy’s talent and hard work have taken her around the world, and it all started by spending a few weeks with us at our Joffrey San Francisco Contemporary Ballet Intensive, discovering where her passion could take her. If you’re a dancer who loves their craft and is ready to learn, grow and perhaps even find a new path forward, register to audition for one of Joffrey’s summer dance intensives today! 

Student Spotlight: Youth Ensemble Member Hannah Eng

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Student Spotlight: Youth Ensemble Member Hannah Eng

I have only been at the Joffrey Ballet School for a little over a year. I have taken classes, participated in the summer intensives and had privates. I have definitely improved my dance technique while at Joffrey. It’s been a lot of hard work! 

Last October, was especially exciting. I was asked to be in JBS’s Youth Ensemble – it was like a dream! We have been able to perform a few times so far and it has been a wonderful opportunity for me. The first time we performed, we only had a few days to prepare. I thought it was fun to have to rush to learn the dance – it was hard but it was also so fun. The performance was in Madison Square Park – we had such a beautiful dance, beautiful costumes and special music. Thanks to Ms. Jo and Ms. Irene for working with us. I love to perform and any chance to be on stage is magical for me. I was lucky to be with such talented dancers and I look up to all of them.

Competing at YAGP (Youth America Grand Prix) was another first experience for me this year. The competition was fierce and I learned a lot by watching the other participants. There were so many talented dancers. I also learned just how much work goes into doing a short two-minute variation and how to adjust spacing depending on what kind of stage I’m dancing on and how big it is. I followed Ms. Irene’s advice and didn’t compare myself to other dancers while I was waiting backstage. Another tip: having classmates supporting you makes a big difference, especially when you are nervous at the last second. It was great having my friends there!

I hope I will be able to keep improving my dance day by day. I am so thankful for the Joffrey Ballet School and especially for my teacher, Ms. Irene. She has truly been my inspiration and has helped me get ready for all my performances. She has really worked with me to be more aware of my hands and to help me keep improving my transitions and turnout.

I love the Joffrey Ballet School and I love being in the performances and dancing everyday. Being part of the ensemble has given me an idea of what it may be like to dance with a company. I really hope that I will be able to continue improving and someday be part of a professional company. I would love to be a first soloist in a company one day – isn’t that every dancer’s dream? I know it is hard work but dance is my passion and it is worth all the sweat, sore muscles and sore feet.

Hannah Eng

JBS Honor Roll

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JBS Honor Roll

Joffrey Ballet School strives for excellence not only in dance training, but also encourages students to pursue academic educations outside of the studio. Many of our students are enrolled in independent study, home schooling, or online high school and college programs. Some even attend local high schools and colleges around the city on top of their full-time curriculum at JBS! We are incredibly proud of these students who showed academic excellence this past semester and made it on to our Academic Honor Roll with straight A’s. 

Note: This post is updated twice a year for the Fall and Spring semesters and includes students enrolled in the trainee programs.  (more…)

Student Spotlight: dancer, choreographer… J&C Trainee Imani Williams

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Student Spotlight: dancer, choreographer… J&C Trainee Imani Williams

A normal day for me starts at about 7:00 a.m. I roll out of bed, sit up and stare at the wall for about 10 minutes while I contemplate life. I wonder why I feel so tired despite getting to bed early the night before. Once I’m up and ready for the day, I down a protein shake and try to catch the train before 8:05 a.m., (which doesn’t always happen) in order to make my 9 a.m. ballet class. While walking to class, I mentally prepare myself for the intense week ahead. (more…)

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