Skip to main content
Members must login to avoid credit card fees on all transactions!
Home2013 Rachel Kivlighan
Rachel Kivlighan 17 ~ Gloria Ziaks/Caren Halpern Ballet Scholarship

Recently I have relocated to Houston, Texas to continue my training at Houston Ballet’s Ben Stevenson Academy. I realize now that it has been one of the best choices in continuing my dance training. I received the majority of my training at Texas Ballet Theater School (TBTS), studying under Jan Miller. I danced at TBTS from 2005 until the summer of 2012. After attending Houston Ballet’s summer program, and being accepted into the year-round training program I was placed into Level 7 (out of 8 levels) for the year. This was disappointing at first, but now I realize that it was for the best. I was able to refine my technique without getting lost in the more competitive atmosphere of Level 8. Through my hard work in the fall semester, I am moving up to level 8 which I now feel ready to handle. It is a very exciting move with more performance opportunities. I believe performances are the ultimate highlight in being a dancer!

I would like to have the opportunity to attend a summer program away from home, permitting me to experience different teachers with new ideas. My main goals now are not only to grow technically as a dancer, but primarily to improve as an artist. Being exposed to different ideas and choreography would allow me to do that.

In the next two years, so much could happen. When I think back to where I was a couple years ago, I never thought I would come this far. I believe there are unlimited possibilities in the years to come. Next year, I would like to continue my training in Houston, perhaps moving up into Houston Ballet’s second company, HBII. After that, my dream is to dance professionally. When people ask which company I want to dance with, I always say whichever one will take me because it does not matter where I am dancing, as long as I am dancing. I cannot imagine waking up everyday, and not going off to take class and rehearse all day. I am eager to see what the next two years have to offer, and I cannot wait to embark on this journey.

Update: Rachel has been offered a year around scholarship to attend American Ballet Theatre's JKO School.

This summer I used my DCNT scholarship to attend American Ballet Theater’s Summer Intensive in New York. I chose this summer program because I wanted to attend ABT’s year round preprofessional training program, the JKO (Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis) school. I was accepted into the JKO school on full scholarship for the 2013-2014 year, much to my disbelief. I am now making a permanent move to New York City after spending 5 weeks there this summer.


During the program we had classes from 9 to 5 Monday-Friday. We were able to do technique, pas de deux, pointe, variations, character, Pilates, yoga, jazz, modern, and repertoire. I really enjoyed getting to do such a wide variety of dance styles. For the end of the program performance my level performed Act II Swan Lake, where I was a Big Swan. Getting to rehearse Swan Lake was really enjoyable, and it felt so freeing to just glide across the stage doing huge grande jetes. We also performed Waltz of the Flowers. It was not a technically challenging number, but it was very fun choreography you couldn’t help doing without a big smile.


Before going to ABT this summer, I had heard that it is like a stampede of people without any personal corrections unless you were an obvious favorite. I was pleasantly surprised this summer when they gave equal attention to all the students, and they really wanted to help everyone grow technically and artistically. My favorite teacher this summer was Franco De Vita, he had great corrections and kept the atmosphere pleasant. I think I am really going to enjoy working with him throughout the year. 


I was so sad to leave friends and teachers at the end of the program, but I am returning in the fall. It’s every dancers dream to live in New York City, and now I am living the dream. I don’t know if the ABT company is in my future, but being in New York City will lead to endless audition opportunities to secure a professional position in the coming year. I can’t wait to see what this year as to offer, and after this summer I know I am making the right choice in leaving Houston (Houston Ballet Academy) to attend the JKO school in New York City.