Rachel Kivlighan 16 ~ Nathalie Krassovska Memorial Ballet Scholarship
Dancing has been a passion in my life since before I even started dance training at age 3. My mother enrolled me in ballet class because I loved to dance around whenever I heard music. At first, I got bored with dance class, and I always wanted to stop in the spring. I was told I had committed myself to the end of year performance and that I could stop at that point but each Fall I wanted to continue. I am originally from Virginia where I attended a small studio and got my first dose of competitions. I loved competitions because it was another chance to perform, which I personally think is one of the highlights of being a dancer. I moved to Dallas at age 9 where I started studying with Lyndette Galen at Texas Ballet Theater School. I became focused primarily on ballet at age 12 and started studying with Jan Miller, who is currently my primary ballet teacher.
I would love to be able to spend summer training away from home. The experience of different teachers with different ideas greatly improves your technique and quality of dance. I also enjoy the opportunity to train with other dancers who share the same passion and joy for dance. In the past years, I have attended Texas Ballet Theater School Summer Program, American Academy of Ballet, and Kaatsbaan Extreme Ballet. I would really like to go back to Kaatsbaan because I feel that last summer I improved so much during my short stay there. All the teachers were very helpful and attentive.
In the next two years, I have many goals. The one that is at the top of my list is to dance in a professional company after I graduate from high school this May.When people ask what company I want to dance with, I always say which ever one will take me because it does not matter where I am dancing, as long as I am dancing. The past two years I have grown so much as an artist that I can only imagine how much I will improve in the next couple of years.
This summer I used my DCNT scholarship to attend Houston Ballet’s Summer Intensive. It was my favorite summer intensive I have attended. I chose this summer program because I wanted to attend the year round training program. I was accepted into their year round program in July.
My experience this summer was much more intense and strenuous than I was expecting. After the second day, I didn’t know if I was going to be able to handle an entire six weeks of the program, but by the end of the first week my body had adjusted to the long hours I was dancing daily. We danced from 9 a.m. to about 6 p.m. (sometimes shorter or longer) with an hour lunch break.
I was surprised that everyone in my level was nice and outgoing which made class even more enjoyable. Another thing that surprised was the individualized attention everyone received; everyone in the class received corrections and there were not any class favorites. Dancing with people I did not know was a little intimidating at first, but by the end of the first week I started to get to know everybody. Everyone in my class was very close by the end of the program and we had a blast not only at the studios but in the dorms as well.
I learned a lot of amazing things this summer and cannot wait to continue learning throughout the year. One thing that stood out to me was the fact that, even though we were girls, we had weight training a few times. We learned exercises that worked on stabilizing our ankles and strengthened and toned our arms.
One of the main highlights of my summer was the performances at the end of the program. My level performed Stanton Welch’s “Ladies”. This is a huge deal being able to perform this, and I was very excited. I received one of the solo parts in the piece that was so much fun to work on and perform. One of the hardest parts was doing ‘Chaînés’ straight up stage while spotting the front. It was a challenge, but I enjoyed it. We had at least 2 hours of rep rehearsal everyday to prepare for the performances.
I didn’t have any major disasters except I got a horrible corn on my foot. It was one of the most painful things I have experienced. Through the long hours I somehow ended up getting a blood blister underneath my corn which made things worse. Luckily, at Houston Ballet they had amazing physical therapists who helped you with any problem. They cut the corn out for me and gave me medication and tips for how to help it heal. We had access to the physical therapist at anytime which I found really nice.
Overall, my experience at Houston Ballet was amazing. I made many friends from all over the world, some of which I will get to continue to dance with in the year round program. I cannot wait to start the program and learn more and more. I’m not sure of my plans for next summer, but I might just end up at Houston Ballet’s program again. I recommend it to everyone as it was an amazing experience.