Friday, July 31, 2015

ABT NYC Summer Intensive 2015- Week 5 by Robbie Downey

Week Five - Summer Intensive Update

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On Monday we had Mrs. Brown for class.  It was nice because she went easy. We also had her for pointe. I went out and got lunch at Pret a few blocks away. It was really good. After lunch we had a run through of the whole show in studio one. All of the teachers would be watching us, so most of us were a little nervous. I thought it went fine! We had a lot of time to spare so me and my friends were practicing fouettes and whip turns. Since I wasn't in the second show at all we would just watch the second cast in front.

Here are some pics we took in the studio.

Tuesday I woke up and my foot left felt like a brick. I couldn't really point it. Once I got to the studio and warmed it up a bit it felt a tiny bit better. It hurt to point and go on releve mainly. I did barre and it was a bit of a struggle. For class we had Melissa Bowman. I told her before center and asked her if I could take it easy. She said of course. I sat down for jumps and iced. Before we went to lunch we got in line to get our ABT t-shirt. This year they are red.

After lunch we had rep and we were in the GG-4 studio again. Before we started we talked with Gabby for a bit. She loves to tell us some of her hilarious performance stories. She is so funny. She let some girls do it on flat, but I told her about my foot anyway and marked through the piece for the performance Friday.

You can read the press release HERE for the ABT Summer Intensive 2015 Final Performance

At the end of the day we had Pilates combined with the Green level. 

After class Tuesday I went to Dough Donuts with some of my friends.

Soooooo good. The Nutella one is also great! 

Wednesday my mom came into town! She took a red-eye flight the night before. I met her over by ABT and we headed to class together. It was parent observation day so she watched my technique class.

The first picture my mom took when she walked up. Me with Spencer. Spencer sold a ton of Merde Shirts. Thank you Spencer! 

Class was with Kate Lydon. I told her about my foot and took it easy with releve. It felt way better than yesterday! I did most of jumps but took it easy with grande allegro. I tried on my pointe shoe and that's what hurt the most. I ended up sitting out of pointe. :(

With Kate Lydon in class. 

Me with Kate after the performance Friday

After lunch was variations with Olga Dvorvenko. She taught us a variation from Paquita. I did it on flat and mainly marked the legs. I sat out and iced for the last 20 minuets. Our last class of the day was rep and I could do it more full out than before. She let us run it once each cast and then let us go. Before we left our counselor gave us some information about the next day at the theater. 

On Thursday we were originally supposed to have class with Charles Askegard but it was changed to Mrs. Dvorvenko. I told her about my foot and didn't really do releve. I wanted to make sure it was okay for the performance. She gave us a nice warm up class before heading to the theater. We all had to head over to the theater with our level wearing our red ABT shirts. We compared it to 5 year olds heading to a museum in preschool. It was actually so funny because once we were at the subway station we saw a bunch of little kids with matching  t-shirts heading somewhere.

We got to the theater and went straight to the audience. We had spacing on stage first. For this we could wear warm ups. After spacing we headed upstairs to eat and then we could go to our dressing room. I then put on my stage makeup and got ready for dress rehearsal.

This was my first time really doing pointe since Monday. My foot was feeling fine!! Dress rehearsal was a little rough. Some spacing issues mainly. Since I was only in first cast, me and some of my other friends went to watch the second cast rehearsal.

My Friends with Gabby.

Friday morning we had to be to the studios at 9am. I ended up meeting Jordan and Emily at Pret and got some breakfast and something for lunch later. We ended up being able to go into the studios earlier. (Around 8:20) .

We had a quick 1 hour warm up class with Gabby Brown. She let us wear warm ups. MY FOOT FELT GREAT!  I could jump and it was amazing. I had been icing it and using arnica and trying to stay off of it as much as possible. We then all headed to the theater in a group again. 

Once I was at the theater I put on my stage makeup and warmed up a bit for the performance. I thought the piece went well! Better than dress rehearsal. We weren't allowed to watch the rest of the show and had to stay back stage for the second show no matter what. I hung out with some friends back stage. Kevin McKenzie, the Artistic Director of American Ballet Theatre, watched the first show! But I didn't find out until after. Also, all of the teachers were in the audience.

Some photos after the show with a lot of my friends and dancers from other levels. 

With Harriet 
With Judy at Grishko picking up my sister's pointe shoes.

My mom and I ran some errands after the show. We stopped by Grishko to get my sister's pointe shoes and Judy bought a Merde shirt =) (You can buy it here She is so nice and a great fitter. If you wear Grishko definitely go see her when you are in NY!

Saturday I went with my mom to Gaynor Minden and then went home to rest after saying goodbye. She left that night and I am here until the 9th. I am at the Ellison Ballet Pas de Deux intensive ! Stay tuned because I'll be blogging about that too.

Thanks for reading about week five in the city at ABT. I had the best time and really enjoyed the entire 5 weeks. I met so many new people and had so many different teachers. It was a great experience with great training! 

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Monday, July 20, 2015

ABT NYC Summer Intensive 2015- Week 4 by Robbie Downey

Week Four - Summer Intensive Update

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We had class with Carlos Lopez. He is the ABT Studio Company Ballet Master. We were in the GG-4 studio which is really big and has this super cool brick wall. The downside is the floor is not too great. :( It's basically just Marley on a wood floor. It was also very slippery today. With that said we didn't really do a grand allegro which I like better than petit allegro.

We then had Harriet Clark for pointe. She has so much energy when she teaches and I love it.
After lunch we headed back up to the same studio. We were in it all day. We had jazz class. Okay it wasn't really jazz but it was still pretty fun. I failed at the last combo though! 
After "jazz" we had rep with Gabby Brown. Right now during rep we are basically just cleaning it and making sure we have the musicality correct. For the most part we know the steps. 

Tuesday morning we started out with Pilates/yoga. Our scheduled said yoga but it really isn't yoga. We basically massage out our muscles, stretch a bit, and do some core work. After Pilates we had class with Gemma Bond again and I thought class went well. I enjoy her classes! (For those of you who don't know she has a British accent!) Leslie Browne then taught our pointe class. Honestly it was pretty rough because I was wearing new shoes. Typically new shoes will rub on my bunions and make them sore.  

During lunch the past few days my friend Spencer has been helping me sell my Merde shirts! He sold them so fast! He now has a whole bunch of people who want them. Thanks so much Spencer! ;) You can get them at . We also ship international. ;) There are a few different styles and sweat pants coming soon!!!

For an hour and a half we had character class with Olga Dvorovenko. Some of the younger boys were in our character class this time. Leslie brown then taught us the Dawn Variation from Coppelia. I did this variation over a year ago for a student show so I pretty much already knew it. Some things were different but I like this variation a lot because there is a variety of things mixed into it. Watching this video I feel like I have definitely progressed in the last year!! If you haven't seen my youtube channel it starts at age 10 . You can subscribe here 

For technique class we had Gabby Brown. I love her class because she knows how we feel and what we are going through. She is also very entertaining. We also had pointe with her and she let us start in center. Honestly, I do not like doing pointe at barre.

Gaynor Minden circle before pointe class. 

After lunch we had pas de deux class for and hour and a half with Ethan Brown. Before pas Austen Acevedo and I filmed some whip turns.

When I got home Wednesday I stretched for a bit and used my bunion reformer because my bunions were sore. They usually bother me when I start new pointe shoes. 

Thursday morning it was actually a bit cooler walking to class and I wasn't prepared for it. It was nice though. First we started out with Pilates and then had class with Charles Askegard. His class was challenging because it had quite a bit of fast foot work, but I really like it. 
We then had pointe we Mr. DeVita. Our shoes had all this white powder on them from the studio we had pas in. I think it was something to help make it less sticky.

After lunch we had another ballet technique class with Miss Clark. At first we all had the barres pulled out but she told us to put them away. We basically did all of class in the center. I was happy for that because I prefer center over barre. Our last class of the day was modern. 

Since it was Friday and we could wear colored leotards I wore my newer Yumiko. (The brown and green one in the style Denise). We had class with Kate Lydon and I loved it. She gives such GREAT corrections and I love her as a teacher. We also had her for pointe class. After lunch we had rep with Mrs. Brown and continued cleaning La Sylphide. Our last class of the day was Pilates. 

On Saturday I slept in and then met up with Audrey. We headed to the Yumiko store. On the way there were all these police and people around. Police were setting up blockades. Apparently the president would be going by that street because he was seeing a show. 

Nothing really stood out in the Yumiko store so I might go check back in a couple of weeks. A really, really, great and super nice person sponsors all my Yumikos. Thank you Yumiko Sponsor =))

Audrey and I got some really yummy fro yo from 16 Handles. 

I absolutely love this cat. The kitty lives in a pet store by the dorms. 

On Sunday I took Mr. Ellison's Steps class which was hard! Later in the day I auditioned for his year round program. I thought the audition went well, but it was very crowded. The studio was also not extremely big.

My friend Rosemarie was in the city. She was at Lincoln center so we met up with her after class.

Thanks for reading about week four in the city at ABT. I hope it helps other dancers know what to expect and gives everyone an idea of what we do all summer! 

You can be updated by email when I post new blogs. Join the email list here...

Instagram: and @balletfreak

I wanted to add this video because I love the photos that Kyle Froman takes and am a big fan of Ezra's videos too. Kyle used to dance with New York City Ballet. Here is the Vanity Fair Article about him with a few photos CLICK HERE . 

I have his book "In the Wings" . You can get it HERE  



Monday, July 13, 2015

ABT NYC Summer Intensive 2015- Week 3 by Robbie Downey

Week Three - Summer Intensive Update: Year round audition for JKO School, Final show casting, New Gaynor Girl Status and more fun photos! 

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On Monday we had technique and pointe with Lupe Serrano again. Lupe Serrano has taught at The Juilliard School since 1997. She also currently teaches company class for American Ballet Theatre, ABT’s Studio Company, Eliot Feld’s Ballet Tech and The Metropolitan Opera Dancers. She joined ABT in 1953 as a principal dancer and was awarded prima ballerina status!! The class went well and once again I find myself just completely blown away by the staff that is teaching our classes! I think I said this before but that should be a deciding factor when you are choosing a program. Class size and teachers.

Photo: Lupe Serrano in The Combat. Photo courtesy of ABT Archives. 

After lunch we had another technique class with Rosanna Servalli (Danced with ABT for 11 years and reached the rank of soloist). I really liked her class and she was very entertaining. During the class she had sheets of paper and seemed to be writing things down. I think it was for people who were auditioning for the year round program at the JKO School (Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis) which is attached to ABT and often feeds dancers into ABT Studio Company and then the company. Acceptance is by audition only. After class we then had variations with Kate Lydon. Kate is the Director of the ABT Studio Company. We learned Aurora act 3. She said she would just mix and match different versions together. I had fun learning this variation and I really enjoy working with Kate and look forward to when she is teaching class. 

On Tuesday we started out with Pilates in the morning. We then had class with Gemma Bond, a Corps de Ballet dancer with ABT. It was really cool because she was wearing one of my Merde shirts! She is really nice and I enjoyed her class. Next we had pas de deux class! Pas would have to be my favorite class. It was taught by Charles Askegard. I partnered with Shaakir (a year round student at the JKO school) and Austen Acevedo again. After pas class we stayed in the studio and practiced for a bit. After lunch we had Ballet History class again. She showed us some videos of Natalia Osipova doing Giselle and also Tamara Rojo and Steven McRae doing La Sylphide.

Here is a video of Shaakir and his twin brother Naazir. Misty Copeland is featured talking about them! >> Click here

After history we had rep (repertoire) . Casting was finally decided for the final performance at the end of week 5. I am in the corps and I get to do a short variation with another dancer.  I am happy with my parts and excited for the performance. My friend, Austen will be the male lead in my cast. 

While walking to the Subway Wednesday morning I saw this nice little Tesla. I love to drive and I love cars!

On Wednesday we had technique class and pointe with Ms. Seravalli. I thought it was a good class! Also, this past week I have been talking with Paige from Gaynor Minden. They are starting this new program called Gaynor Girls and they asked me to be a part of it. They have invited less than 20 pre-professional dancers to participate. I am really excited because I really do love my Gaynor Minden pointe shoes so I'm happy to promote them! I feel honored that they chose me. It's a great opportunity for me.

After lunch we had character class. It was a pretty challenging class. The teacher liked to move through combinations fast. If you don't have character at your home studio your summer intensive may be the only place you get it. This is the case for me and I have been lucky enough to have it every summer since my first intensive at ABT NYC at age 12. Character is like folk dancing and appears in classical ballets like Coppelia, The Nutcracker and Sleeping Beauty. The SAB website says it also appears in contemporary works and companies are doing more and more contemporary these days. So you better learn it =) If you are not familiar you can search it on youtube. 

Our last class of the day was variations class with Harriet Clark. We learned Copellia Act 3. We did the version with the toe hops. I like this version but I also like jumping a lot so doing it with jumps would have been nice too.

On Wednesday night I went to go watch the Sunset. It was soooo pretty! 

Thursday we had class with Melissa Bowman. I REALLY love her classes and teaching style and I remember liking them even back when I was 12. I had a real dedication to my Russian teacher then and it was not often that enjoyed anyone else's classes! We also had pointe class with her. During pointe class I was doing a combination in my group and Kevin McKenzie, THE Artistic Director of ABT, watched it in the doorway! It was to the left and we were about to do a pirouette. I did a triple to the left! My friend Spencer said Kevin McKenzie watched his whole pas class!! 

After lunch we had music class with one of the pianists who plays for ABT.  Our last class was rep. In this class I didn't do too much because the teacher was working with the other cast. Also she let us go early because she needed to work with the soloists.  I stayed and watched because I had to stay for the JKO year round audition.  JKO is the associate school attached to American Ballet Theatre. 

The audition was originally supposed to go from 5:30-7:30 but they changed it to only an hour! Franco De Vita, Principal of the JKO school, taught the class and Melissa Bowman watched. I was number 22 and there were a few other girls from my level auditioning with me. I thought it went really well! The combinations were pretty simple and it went by fast! I don't think we find out until after the program. Waiting to hear is so hard! 

On Friday we get to wear colored leotards! I decided to wear my long sleeve pinkish Yumiko. It's one of my favorites. I have a very generous person that sponsors ALL of my Yumiko leotards and I am very grateful. =) I'll be making another leotard collection video soon! I can't always reply to all the comments on my youtube videos but I do see the requests!

Me and Sheridian, a girl in my level, were twinning. Well basically it was just reversed so I guess we were mirroring. :)

We took these pictures at the end of the day. 

After class on Friday I headed to the Gaynor Minden store, which is super close to ABT. I met Paige and some other girls that worked there. They were all very nice and helpful. I told them I wanted to try a custom pair so they are going to cut down the sides and tweak some things. I should get that pair in about a month and will make a video about the process and how the shoes turn out. It's really difficult to even attempt custom pairs when your foot is still growing because you have to wait for them and you don't know how they will be. My feet are done growing... well they better be. I have big and wide feet. 

Since I needed to get a new pair anyways I got this pair pictured below. It is a bit different than my current pair. It is a 5 box and medium width. I like them a lot and can't wait for my custom pair! 

On Saturday my roommates and I went out to breakfast and then basically chilled the rest of the day. Later in the evening Melissa Chapski and I headed to So Ho to try out this gelato place. We both got this hot panino with cookie dough gelato. It was incredible. I met Melissa at Ellison Ballet a few years ago. She's a great dancer and you've probably seen her modeling for a lot of ballet products and Discount Dance. She placed top 12 in Senior Women at YAGP Final Round NYC 2015. You can find her on Instagram @ballerinachi. We like to eat! One of my first photos with her is at a bakery eating a giant piece of cake! 

I love the little dumplings filter for photos ;) 

On Sunday I took Mr. Ellison's class at Steps and it was surprisingly not as crowded as the week before. His class is popular, just like him. I met some girls going to his intensive and they told me they watched some of my YouTube videos! They were really nice and I loved meeting them! 

After Steps class my friend Audrey and I headed to Brooklyn. We went to the New York Transit Museum. It was cool because we got to see all these old subway cars! 

Probably my favorite subway car. 

Audrey doing some ballet in the Subway.

Some interesting color choices! 

Audrey and I honestly had no idea where we were going but we eventually made it to the water. We met this cute little poodle along the way! I love animals =) 

Some pictures by the water. 

I eventually headed back home. I did some laundry and attempted to sew the rest of my new pair of Gaynors. I can't believe there are only 2 weeks left. I really do not want it to end. I am loving this intensive!

Thanks for reading about week three in the city at ABT. I hope it helps other dancers know what to expect and gives everyone an idea of what we do all summer! 

You can be updated by email when I post new blogs. Join the email list here...

Instagram: and @balletfreak