Courtlyn Hanson 16 ~ Gloria Ziaks & Caren Halpern Ballet Scholarship
My name is Courtlyn Hanson and I am 16 years old. I have been dancing for 13 years at the Ballet Academy of Texas under the direction of Lisa Slagle. I currently dance about 30 hours a week which includes a pre-professional program in the morning, regular classes at night, and rehearsals on the weekends. I take ballet, pointe, tap, jazz, modern, pilates, yoga, and a pas de deux class. I joined the Ballet Ensemble of Texas’ Company in 2009. Since then, I have performed many different roles. A few of my favorites were; Clara and the Snow Queen in The Nutcracker, a Little Swan in Swan Lake, and a Friend in Coppelia. I have also been competing in Youth America Grand Prix since the age of 12, where I have placed in the top 3 every year in the semi-finals. This past weekend I competed in the largest ever Youth America Grand Prix semi-finals in Irving Texas in the senior division. I placed 1st out of 130 dancers in the classical division and in the top 12 with my contemporary piece. I am planning to compete in the Finals in
New York City with hopes of making it to the final round. In the past year, I have received scholarships to many different summer intensives, but have always found myself drawn back to ABT.
Thank you so much for awarding me with the Gloria Ziaks/Caryn Halpern Ballet Scholarship! Thanks to the help of this scholarship I was able to return to American Ballet Theatre's Summer Intensive in New York City. Every year that I go back it always seems to exceed my expectations.
For five weeks I danced from 9:00-5:00, Monday through Friday, with technique, pointe, pas de deux, jazz, modern, character, yoga and Pilates classes. The teachers were very informative and gave great corrections. Every teacher had such an eye for detail and was incredibly easy to work with which allowed me to leave with cleaner, simplified technique. Some of my favorite teachers were Franco De Vita, Gabby Brown, Cheryl Yeager, Kate Lydon, and Melissa Bowman. We even got to take class with Kevin McKenzie, the artistic director of ABT!
Over the five weeks, the top 2 levels worked with Cheryl Yeager on the 2nd act of Swan Lake. I was fortunate enough to be cast as a "little swan" in our repertoire piece. As well as performing Swan Lake, our level also learned Alexei Ratmansky's Waltz of the Flowers.
During the YAGP finals in New York City I was offered a position with ABT's Studio Company and will be joining them this fall! I'm looking forward to a great new year with exciting performance opportunities. I believe this summer has brought me one step closer to achieving my goal of becoming a professional dancer.