Tiffany Byrd 18 ~ Gloria Ziaks/Dr. Caryn Halpern Ballet Scholarship
I had the opportunity to go to company and college auditions. I wanted to audition for both companies and colleges because I believe that it is important to have options. I wanted to know that if I didn’t get any offers from ballet companies, then I would still have college where I could continue dancing. I auditioned and received many scholarships from different colleges, but my heart was still set on being able to dance with a professional company right after I graduated high school. As spring rolled around, I was able to attend auditions for Nashville Ballet, The Washington Ballet, Texas Ballet Theater, Houston Ballet and Ballet West. I was very fortunate to make it through all of the cuts and get offers from four of the five companies that I auditioned for. However, this excitement didn’t last long because I was then faced with the challenge of making a decision on what I thought would be best for my career.
My first big decision was whether or not I would dance in college and get a degree or go on into a company and worry about getting a college degree later. Even though it seems like I already had my mind made up, it was still a tricky choice. Education is very important to me. I believe that it is almost necessary nowadays to have some sort of a college degree to get any sort of job. Even though dancing does not require a degree, I know that I can’t dance forever and I want to be prepared and have something to “fall back on” for the day that my dance career comes to an end. Luckily for me, I learned during this time that I could get a degree through doing college online! Now my focus could be spent on trying to decide which company I wanted to dance for. That is when it started to get stressful. Companies needed to hear back from me right away on whether or not I was going to dance with them, but I also wanted to weigh out my options to see if I would receive any scholarships through competing as a soloist in the YAGP New York City finals. By the time of the YAGP finals, I had done lots of research and was able to narrow my choices to The Washington Ballet and Ballet West, and conveniently their artistic directors were judging my solos at the finals. It was after my performance at the YAGP finals that the artistic director of Ballet West, Adam Sklute, went out of his way to come up to me and congratulate me on my performance. It was in that moment that I felt that Ballet West was the place for me.
I graduated in May and eagerly moved to Salt Lake City to begin my professional career as a trainee on scholarship with Ballet West. Since then, I have enjoyed every moment of being a trainee and working with the wonderful artistic staff of Ballet West. I have thoroughly enjoyed performing in their Fall Gala and their Nutcracker and am looking forward to being a part of their productions of Sir Frederick Ashton’s Cinderella and George Balanchine’s Jewels this spring.