In The Happiest Ballet Class Ever, A Ballet Star Teaches City Kids To Soar
Follow This Ballerina!
Pliés At the Barre
Class started with the basics, like plies, shown here.
Smiles All Around
NDI offers free dance education to about 6,500 New York City public school students each week.
These dancers, age 14 and under, are part of the Celebration Team, a performance group selected from the school-year programs.
Feel the Burn!
Isabella Boylston is one of American Ballet Theatre’s top principal dancers. So yes, her leg is going way higher than anyone else’s — and the kids gasped at what she could do.
Off The Barre
“I didn’t like the barre much when I was your age, so let’s put them away and come to the center!” Boylston told the students, who went right into straight lines. Here, a student prepares in fifth position.
Upper Body Importance
Boylston told the children that while footwork is the hard part, audiences are often looking at the upper body and a dancer’s face.
Perfecting The Angles
All eyes were fixated on Boylston as she demonstrated. There are about 80 Celebration Team dancers, and according to NDI’s artistic director Ellen Weistein, they are given opportunities to perform throughout the year at professional venues.
How It's Done
Boylston grew up in Sun Valley Idaho and though she started dancing at age 3, she was an outdoorsy kid who loved skiing.
Learning From the Best
An NDI student dancer positions herself like Isabella Boylston.
Get Some Air
Class progressed to small jumps to get the feet moving.
NDI strives to give children “a love of arts, a passion for learning, and a desire to strive for their personal best.” It was founded in 1976 by New York City Ballet principal dancer Jacques d’Amboise, who danced for George Balanchine. (Learn more about Balanchine here.)
Time to Fly
Boys leapt through the air in a combination that allowed dancers to cross the floor gaining momentum.
Ballet is tough, even for budding pros! Taking class alongside the students were volunteers including NDI alum Elijah Yong, who now attends the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts in Manhattan.
Students finished off their combinations in triumphant poses of their choice.
A Lesson From Jacques
Jacques d’Amboise retired from New York City Ballet in 1983, and through NDI has reached more than 2 million New York City schoolchildren. Here, he teaches the Celebration Team how to give a bow.
Thank You, Pianist!
Jacques took the children over to the pianist and reminded them to always be grateful for the music he or she played. “You can even thank the piano!” he said.
Ballet Stars All
The class posed for a group shot, then headed off to a question-and-answer session with Boylston.