Dancing with the Pros – Company Class

For the past six to seven months I have been a part of the Trainee Program at Boston Ballet School. It is a program that has helped me progress, given me performance opportunities, and has been overall pretty fun. My teachers are amazing, the schedule is reasonable (most of the time), and I have been improving at a solid rate since the moment I first started class.

One of the opportunities that the school gives the trainees is getting to take company class for a week. Over the space of several months, the trainees rotate and take company class four at a time. This past week was my turn, along with three friends, and the experience was very interesting.

As a trainee at Boston Ballet, I get to have a pretty close relationship with the company as well as the second company. I had seen everyone in rehearsals before and even in passing them on the street. I have developed close connections to some of them, especially the second company members. This was very helpful because in a company class, everyone has a barre spot and some of them get pissed when they have to stand somewhere else. I was able to ask a second company member where to stand and he showed me a safe spot to the side of the room, which is where I stayed for the remainder of the week.

The company studio with various company members

Even if the class had a different teacher, the class structure was about the same. We would have a relatively short barre, which consisted of both simple and complex combinations that were all relatively easy but warmed me up. The combinations in the centre were all pretty simple and didn’t travel much. This allowed for big groups which would help the class go by faster. When we got to jumps, we started to travel a lot more. Because the class was so big, the teachers always gave grand allegro twenty minutes before the end of class, which in normal classes is plenty of time. In the grand allegro the company members started to show off: the women would whack their saute de chats, getting into a full split, some of them jumping just as high as the men. The men would pull off enormous double cabrioles and double saute de basques and 540s. It was very fun to watch but also very intimidating.

Throughout the whole class I was nervous mostly about crashing into a company member. Luckily it never happened and when I was close to it, I apologized immediately and I continued the class feeling better. 

A couple times, the Artistic Director of Boston Ballet Mikko Nissinen came in and watched the last couple minutes of class. This would result in all the trainees getting stressed, and the company members trying to show off even more. While this happened, I went in the front of a group that was doing grand allegro and at the end of the combination I was right in front of Mikko. I felt a bit nervous, but he gave me a correction and I thanked him and went to the side. One of my trainee friends was not so lucky. He also finished the grand allegro in front of Mikko, but as he came down from the last jump, he slipped and landed on his rear end. He was fine and he and I laughed it off later, but he fell in front of Mikko at least two more times that week.

Me in the company studio

Even though it was kind of stressful and I had to be constantly aware of not running into anyone, taking company class was definitely a good experience. I got to see how the company interacts with each other and the teachers, I got to see what class is like: more a warm up class and less of a class focused on improving technique. I was also able to develop closer relationships with some of the company members, who, after some classes, would give me corrections on how to improve my jumps and turns.

This experience made me excited to be in a company, and it gave me more motivation to do so. Seeing how the company members would always try to improve even though the teachers didn’t give many corrections inspired me to do the same. 

So with much more hard work, self corrections, and improving natural talent, 

I will see you later!

Kai C