Friday, June 13, 2014

Ballerinas poised for a challenging summer

Headed for Joffrey Ballet School programs


Ballet dancers Lindsay Morton, 13, (left) and Hayley Allen are pictured together May 30 at the Wood River Community YMCA. They will participate in the Joffrey Ballet School sum-mer program in late July, Lindsay in San Francisco and Hayley in New York City. Photo by Willy Cook

Countless little girls dream of becoming ballerinas.

     To succeed in this highly disciplined pursuit, you need big dreams, but it also takes years of dedication, sacrifice and training. Two local ballet dancers, Hayley Allen and Lindsay Morton, are proving they have what it takes to soar.

     After a competitive and intimidating audition process, both rising eighth graders have been accepted into the prestigious Joffrey Ballet School summer program.

     The girls, who study seriously with numerous teachers at the Sun Valley Ballet School during the year, will spend two weeks taking part in the intensive programs.

     Allen, who attends Community School and started studying ballet at age three, is off to New York City in late July where she will live in student housing at Pace University.

     She will share a chaperone with other dancers and will study ballet, jazz, contemporary dance and flamenco from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. each day.

     According to her mother, Kristen Allen, the opportunity is not only a chance to improve technique, but for her daughter to gain exposure to the world of dance through scheduled field trips to watch performances by the American Ballet Theatre, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and others.

     Hayley Allen said she is up for the entire experience.

     “I expect it to be intense,” she said. “There was so much talent just at the auditions that I’m sure the dancers will be amazing but I’m ready to be challenged.

     “I looked at a lot of programs and Joffrey seemed the best fit. They seemed friendly and they really focus on technique. I can’t wait to really improve my Pointe work. I also can’t wait to live in the dorm!”

     Morton, a student at The Sage School, will study in San Francisco in late July and will be accompanied by her mother, staying with friends of the family and also in hotels.

     Her focus will be on contemporary ballet and she will also train eight hours a day. An aspiring ballerina from the age of two, Lindsay “lives and breathes ballet,” according to her mother Kristen.

     “Linsday is really serious about her ballet and we are so excited that she was selected to this program,” Kristen Morton said. “She has dreams of dancing seriously for many years to come and this is a unique opportunity for her to be around girls from all around the country who take ballet equally seriously and are as driven.  She just can’t wait to get to the barre and really push herself.”

     One of the world’s top dance companies, Chicago-based Joffrey boasts a venerable history extending more than 50 years. Joffrey emphasizes classical training to the highest standards and, according to its mission statement, is “committed to artistic excellence and innovation.”

     For the summer program, Joffrey conducted auditions throughout the country. Allen traveled to Salt Lake City to audition, while Lindsay went to Seattle. Dozens of ballerinas auditioned for a very few available spots.

     Kristen Allen called the audition experience intimidating. “There were many dancers of all different ages and levels at Hayley’s location. It was definitely competitive,” she said.

     While studying with Joffrey is special, there is more dance in Allen and Morton’s plans this summer.

     Morton is off to dance with a program at Boise’s Ballet Idaho for two weeks, then she and Allen will gain even more experience in Montana before heading to New York.

     The two, with Abigail Barton, a rising senior at Wood River High School and a student at the Sun Valley Ballet School, have been invited to participate in a ballet intensive hosted by the James Sewell Ballet Company based in Minneapolis.

     Auditions were held in Idaho, Wyoming and Minnesota for the clinic that will be held at the Warren Miller Performing Arts Center in Big Sky. Approximately 80 dancers auditioned for 12 available spots.

     Nicole Ching, the administrator and director at the Sun Valley Ballet School said, “I am so excited for both these girls to be able to be part of Joffrey and have this opportunity.

     “They both work so very hard at class and I excited to see how the Joffrey School will be able to enhance their already wonderful blossoming skills. Their first performance on Pointe shoes in December at the ‘Wizard of Oz’performance was magical to watch.”



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