Tiffany Byrd 17 ~ Nadyne Legere Memorial Scholarship
You will never know how far you can go until you spread your wings and fly. Up until this year I have worked hard to gain experience and expand my horizons. I have learned as much as I can about dance, from all the different styles of dance and techniques to performing in different venues and learning how to quickly adjust to new stages and surroundings in order to put on a strong performance. Now, this year is my time to spread my wings and see how far I can fly!
I have grown up studying mainly ballet, along with modern, jazz, lyrical, and tap since I was three years old at Texas Ballet Theater School, Dallas. I have had many wonderful experiences performing in many of Texas Ballet Theater’s professional performances such as The Nutcracker, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty. I have also had the honor of dancing as a part of the school’s ensemble and as a soloist. I have thoroughly enjoyed competing as an ensemble member and a soloist in many competitions such as Youth America Grand Prix and American Ballet Competition. Performing as an ensemble member has taught me how to work with a corps de ballet and has prepared me for what it will be like to work and perform with a professional company. Performing as a soloist has helped me gain confidence on stage and work on my acting and stage presence, which I believe are some of the most important things for a dancer to have because you can teach anyone technique and tricks, but you can not teach them to have passion and how to express their love of dance.
In 2011 I placed 2nd place in the senior contemporary category and top 12 in the senior classical category at the Youth America Grand Prix regionals in Indianapolis and at the American Ballet Competition, I was awarded the “most promising contemporary dancer”. This year, however, is a new year with many new goals. Having finished my Advanced Royal Academy of Dancing examinations with the highest mark, Distinction, I am now preparing for my Solo Seal examination in hopes of earning the highest honor, the Solo Seal, at the end of February. I have also been working on two classical solos and a contemporary solo along with ensemble pieces to compete in the 2012 YAGP regionals in hopes of making it to the finals in New York City again. But, what makes this year more exciting than previous ones is that this year I am preparing for the next steps on my journey as a dancer. During the fall, I auditioned and was accepted to many colleges and their dance programs with scholarships. Throughout the Spring I will be auditioning for many professional ballet companies in hopes of getting a job for the 2012-2013 season. My goal for next year is to be dancing with a professional ballet company while doing college classes online so that I can earn a degree at the same time as I am following my dreams. I believe a college degree is very important to have so that when my career in dance ends I will have something to fall back on and not have to worry about going back to college to get my degree. When I think about the future, I hope that someday I will become a principle dancer in a world famous company in Europe, but I will never know if I can get there unless I spread my wings and fly.
With the Nadyne Leger Memorial Scholarship I was able to attend the Jose Carreño Dance Festival in Sarasota Florida for 3 weeks in August. This intensive stands out from any other intensive that I have ever attended.
The mission of this intensive is to prepare the next generation of dancers for the ever-evolving, competitive world of ballet and in order to do this the intensive was run similarly to the way a company works, in that after our technique class the rest of the day consisted of long hard hours of rehearsal. Every morning began with a two hour technique class either onstage at the historic Sarasota Opera House or in the beautiful studios at the Cuban Ballet School taught by either Mariinsky Ballet’s (formerly the Kirov Ballet) artistic director Yuri Fateev, ABT’s Principal Julie Kent, Loipa Araujo, the world-renown Cuban ballet coach and former prima ballerina, or Magaly Suarez, director of The Art of Classical Ballet School with 30 years of international experience. Each of these teachers taught amazing classes and brought with them many encouraging words and different styles of training that pushed us to new levels and forced us to adapt quickly from one style to another. The rest of the day consisted of learning and rehearsing a beautiful Spanish Flamenco dance choreographed by Eduardo Veitia, founder and choreographer of Ballet Espanol de Cuba, an Afro-Brazilian modern dance choreographed by Carlos dos Santos Jr., the Cuban version of Giselle Act II rehearsed by Loipa Araujo, and a finale type piece, Divertimento, choreographed by Jose Carreño.
The rehearsals for Giselle were the most strenuous. It was very difficult to get all of the dancers of different training to look exactly the same in the Corps part of the Willies, but with many hours of working articulately on the style and choreography we all looked identical. It was stressed by the staff for all of us to be perfect so that we didn’t take away from the beautiful performance of Julie Kent and Jose Carreño, who played the lead roles of Giselle and Ulbricht, as well as ABT’s Melanie Hamrick’s performance of Myrtha and Gennadi Saveliev’s performance of Hilarion. When we performed the piece in the “Festival of Stars Gala” there was such a magical feeling on stage with the full set, the beautiful costumes loaned to us by Orlando Ballet, and being able to dance with such famous and inspiring dancers.
The other rehearsals that were also difficult were the Flamenco rehearsals. They really pushed me to adapt and learn a new style of dance quickly. The teacher, Eduardo Veitia, is the best Flamenco teacher in Cuba. He is an amazing teacher, however, everything was taught in Spanish making it difficult for those who don’t understand Spanish to pick the stylistic details up. I was very happy that I had taken 4 years of Spanish in school!
The modern piece, choreographed by Carlos dos Santos Jr., was very energetic and exciting. It felt good to let loose and be a little sassy strutting across the stage in this Afro-Brazilian dance.
Rubinald Pronk also made an appearance in the 3 week final performance. He performed a solo, L’Effleuré. He was absolutely mesmerizing to watch and inspired me to work on my flexibility and quality and articulation of my movements in every style of dance.
Overall, I had one of the most amazing experiences of my life this summer and it has prepared me for my year working for the first time with a company as a trainee with Ballet West. I am so blessed to have had the opportunity to have been a part of such an amazing festival and to have been able to dance with such beautiful dancers and friends that I will hopefully have the opportunity to dance with in the near future in a professional company.