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Get To Know: Alyssa Fazekas

Thursday, August 03, 2017
Alyssa Fazekas

By Kendra Harris, Social Media and Marketing Assistant

Get to know Alyssa Fazekas, a new corps de ballet member with Colorado Ballet. 

KH: Where are you from?
AF: I am from Orlando, FL, but I spent the last couple years dancing in Phoenix, AZ. 

KH: Where did you train/dance before coming to Colorado Ballet?
AF: I started at a small studio in Orlando, then spent a few years with Orlando Ballet. After Orlando, I joined Milwaukee Ballet II, then I joined Ballet Arizona Studio Company. 

KH: At what age did you start dancing? What do you remember from your first class?
AF: I started at 14. The thing I remember is fear. Ahaha. I know that sounds terrible, but I started at 14, and didn’t even go on pointe until a few months shy of 15. So, my first ballet class I was surrounded by amazing little 10 year olds, it was intimidating, but I remember leaving the class thinking it was still so much fun. 

KH: What was your first ballet you remember attending? What do you remember about it? 
AF: I'm pretty sure it was Nutcracker. I just remember thinking "that’s what I want to do, all that those dancers are doing, I want to do it.”

KH: Favorite ballets to dance?
AF: So far, hands down my favorite ballet to dance has been Western Symphony. It’s such a fun, carefree ballet.

KH: What do you like to do when you aren’t dancing (your free time)?
AF: Sleep. Hahaha, I don’t sleep too much, so when I have free time I try to make up for it. I also just like to spend some time with friends. 

KH: What are some of your indulgences? 
AF: Oh my gosh! I love all food. Chocolate, sweets, pizza, all of it. 

KH: Do you have any pre-performance routines/rituals? 
AF: I like to have my makeup done super early. Like before warm up class, even if I have a long time before I dance. It’s just so I don’t have to worry about it and focus on choreography or corrections. I also have to put on rosin like 7 or 8 times before I go on stage. I fall a lot (I actually fell really bad the second day of this season in rehearsal).  I once fell and hit my head really bad on stage and ever since then, I overload on the rosin. 

Alyssa Fazekas

KH: What show are you looking forward to this season?
AF: Serenade for sure. (at Vail Dance Festival). It’s always been a dream to get do it, I’m also looking forward to Dracula, I’ve heard amazing things about it. 

KH: What do you most enjoy about your life in ballet?
AF: The freedom of it. The freedom to express yourself and escape from the real world for a little bit. 

KH: Who are your dance heroes?
AF: I have some idols like Natalia Osipova and Alina Cojocaru. But in terms of hero, I think it would have to be my ballet teacher back home Ms. Kim. She’s helped me through every part of my career, she’s like my ballet mom. 

KH: If you were stuck in an elevator for 12 hours with anyone, who would it be?
AF: Getting stuck in an elevator is one of my biggest fears, so I would want to be stuck with a fireman or elevator mechanic. So they could fix it and get us out ahahaha.

Photos: Alyssa Fazekas

Get To Know: Francesca Martoccio

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Francesca Martoccio

By Kendra Harris, Social Media and Marketing Assistant

Get to know Francesca Martoccio, a new apprentice with Colorado Ballet.

KH: Where are you from?
FM: Miami, Florida

KH: Where did you train/dance before coming to Colorado Ballet?
FM: I trained at Thomas Armour Youth Ballet, which is actually the oldest ballet school in Miami & attended a performing arts high school downtown. I then moved up to New York to attend SUNY Purchase College where I received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance with a concentration in ballet. Then I moved out to Denver! 

KH: What did you do with your summer break?
FM: A huge highlight of my summer vacation was going to Italy for the first time with my mom. We visited little villages of my great grandparents along with all of the expected highlights like Rome, Florence, etc. I then spent a restful month home in Miami and eventually made my way back to Denver to work as a chaperone for Colorado Ballet's Summer Intensive. 

KH: What age did you first start dancing? What do you remember from your first class?
FM: I started dancing when I was six. My sister and I were picked up from school and driven to our very first class together. I remember feeling a sense of belonging & instantly gravitating towards the art form--it became my favorite form of self-expression.

KH: What was your first ballet you remember attending? What do you remember about it?
FM: 
The first ballet I ever attended was a production of The Nutcracker when I was seven. I remember getting all dressed up during the holidays and wishing that I could dance the role of Clara one day. Luckily, a few years later that wish came true.

KH: Favorite ballets to dance? Which are favorite to watch?
FM: 
Of the ballets that I've danced, my favorite ones are Balanchine's The Four Temperaments & Antony Tudor's The Leaves are Fading. Some of my favorites to watch are Swan Lake and works by Jiri Kylian. 

Francesca MartoccioKH: What do you like to do when you aren’t dancing (your free time)?
FM: When I am not dancing, I enjoy spending time with friends/family, being outdoors, & experimenting in the kitchen.

KH: What are some of your indulgences?
FM: I truly love pure dark chocolate. I've even started making it myself!

KH: Do you have any pre-performance routines/rituals? 
FM: 
Before a performance, I always make sure that I set aside alone time to sustain calm energy by listening to music & practicing meditation.

KH: What show are you looking forward to this season?
FM: I have never danced in Dracula or Romeo & Juliet, which I'm very much looking forward to doing. Closing the season with Ballet Director's Choice will also be an exciting triple bill to be a part of. I guess the answer is...everything! 

KH: What do you most enjoy about your life in ballet?
FM: I ultimately enjoy how my life in ballet is an ongoing learning experience. I am constantly discovering new things about the art form itself as well as who I am as a dancer. 

KH: Who are your dance heroes?
FM: I have been so fortunate to cross paths with professionals that helped shape me into the dancer I am today. My many dance teachers who have nurtured/mentored me are my absolute heroes.

KH: If you were stuck in an elevator for 12 hours with anyone, who would it be?
FM: Definitely my mom. She would be the only person to understand the panic attack I'd be having since we both have an irrational fear of elevators. 

Photos: Francesca Martoccio by Francisco Estevez

Get To Know: Sara VanderVoort

Monday, July 31, 2017

Sara VanderVoortBy Kendra Harris, Social Media and Marketing Assistant

Get to know Sara VanderVoort, one of the newest apprentices with Colorado Ballet.

KH: Where are you from?
SV: Right outside of Philadelphia in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

KH: Where did you train/dance before coming to Colorado Ballet?
SV: I began my ballet training with Metropolitan Ballet Academy at the age of 12. I spent summers training at Washington Ballet, Atlanta Ballet, Nashville Ballet and Colorado Ballet. I was also in the Second Company at Nashville ballet and then joined Colorado Ballet’s Studio Company. 

KH: What did you do with your summer break?
SV: My fiancé, Kevin Gael Thomas, has created a summer dance project called Thomas Dance Project to employ ourselves and other dancers of the company during our off season. It’s also a great way to stay in shape and explore with more contemporary choreography. This summer we had our very own show, Riviera, in the Black Box Theater at Colorado Ballet. We also perform at private events around the Denver area. In addition to performing, I love to travel during the summer break, it’s the perfect way to check out and reload for the upcoming season.  This summer, I spent time in Pennsylvania and in Ashville, NC with family, my fiancé and I also vacationed in San Diego.  It’s always a goal of mine to see the ocean at least once over the summer.  Over the summer, I also try to take a lot of college classes while I have more time to devote to studying. This summer, I finally decided to become certified in Yoga, something I have been debating to do for a few years, and I finish my certification in three weeks!

KH: What age did you first start dancing? What do you remember from your first class?
SV: I started dancing when I was four, but I don’t remember much from that first class.  However, I remember feeling incredible when I received a medal after completing my first year of lessons.  I told my mom that I was finished dancing, because what else could I have possibly gotten that would be better than that medal!  Once one month past, I was yearning to go back to ballet classes, and my mother said okay but you have to wait until September when classes actually begin again. 

KH: What was your first ballet you remember attending? What do you remember about it?
SV: Cinderella. I remember the grace, comedy, fear, and joy the ballet made me feel. I had never felt more engaged and intrigued as an audience member ever before.  I remember the Step Sisters, it was the first time that I realized ballet could be funny.  I was hooked to the emotion of the dancers and their ability to project themselves through technical movements.

KH: Favorite ballets to dance? Which are favorite to watch?
SV: Thus far, my favorite ballets to perform are Balanchine’s Serenade and Swan Lake, both of which we performed last season at Colorado Ballet.  My favorite ballets to watch are definitely the classics (Giselle, Swan Lake, Romeo and Juliet, La Bayadere, Le Corsaire, Don Quixote) I also love watching Balanchine's ballets.  On a more contemporary, side I love watching Netherlands Dance Theater basically do anything, their dancers are unlike any others in the world. 

Sara VanderVoort and Kevin Gael Thomas

KH: What do you like to do when you aren’t dancing (your free time)?
SV: Between our busy schedule at the ballet, college courses, teaching, and making ballet skirts for my small business SeamsBySara, I don’t have much free time. However, when I do have time off, I love finding a great happy hour spot with friends or enjoy a much needed girls night equipped with cheese and wine.  I also enjoy taking baths, getting a massage, and going to yoga to care for both my body and mind. 

KH: What are some of your indulgences?
SV: Chocolate, wine, Netflix, and new leotards. 

KH: Do you have any pre-performance routines/rituals? 
SV: I love taking a nap before heading to the theater for a performance, even if I just lay down or close my eyes for twenty minutes.  I find that it resets my mind for the show, it is almost as if a new day is beginning.

KH: What show are you looking forward to this season?
SV: All of them! But especially Romeo and Juliet, it has always been a favorite of mine!

KH: What do you most enjoy about your life in ballet?
SV: I’m paid to do something I am deeply passionate about...what’s better than that? I am also incredibly grateful to be surrounded by such beautiful people and artists at Colorado Ballet.

KH: Who are your dance heroes?
SV: Alessandra Ferri, and I was lucky enough to see her perform at the Vail International Dance Festival in 2015, which made me love her even more.

KH: If you were stuck in an elevator for 12 hours with anyone, who would it be?
SV: My fiancé, or Alessandra Ferri, but I would probably be too star struck to even speak so that could get a bit awkward!

Photos: Top - Sara VanderVoort, Bottom - Sara VanderVoort and Kevin Gael Thomas by Emmy Gaines

Yoga for ballet dancers - International Yoga Day is today

Wednesday, June 21, 2017
By Sharon Wehner, Colorado Ballet Principal Dancer
  

Yoga has been a great adjunct to my training as a dancer in so many ways... It is a great form of cross-training not only for the body, but mind and spirit as well.

   
I started yoga years ago, because it felt good to slow down in my body and breathe and do something that felt physical, yet not based on an aesthetic goal.  In ballet, we are always striving to meet an external expectation, because it is ultimately a performance art.  Although a dancer is expressing themselves from the inside-out as an artist, as a performer, they still have an obligation to meet audience pressures and expectations, as well as technical and aesthetic demands from the choreography.  In yoga, the focus is more internal.
  
Although alignment and form are important in terms of health and "improvement," the ultimate purpose is to create greater harmony within the body, mind and spirit, regardless of how you look.  You get to explore your own personal "edge," but without any judgement or expectation (except your own, which becomes a learning experience in its own right).
  
The practice of yoga goes far beyond the physical asana (postures).  A person can practice yoga on many levels, depending on how deep they are desiring to go with it in terms of physical, emotional, and spiritual commitment.  It really stems from a body of ancient Wisdom Teachings that can be explored and practiced in everyday life, not just on your yoga mat.  As someone who has danced her entire life, I would say that the same is true about dancing, if you choose to take that perspective.  I love any practice that involves a commitment to challenge and explore the interface of internal and external landscapes of our creative spirits, whether it manifests through asana postures, meditation, spinning 32 times on pointe, or embodying Juliet. 
  
I became a teacher, partly because I wanted to explore and understand the deeper aspects of yoga myself.  Yoga goes very deep, in terms of spirituality, and very wide, in terms of styles and permutations.  You can practice yoga with the goal of increasing health, or with the goal of expanding your consciousness, and everything in between.  And all are valid.
 
Ultimately, I was interested in helping people find peace and healing through a physical practice that is very accessible to most people, if they have a teacher who is sensitive to their individual needs. Just being able to move or sit, and pay attention to your breathe while doing so, is a powerful yogic practice.  So many people think you have to be experienced, strong, or flexible to do yoga, or even to dance.  As a teacher, I like to show people that all these assumptions are myths. Everybody has an inner dancer within them, and everyone has an inner wise yogi, both flexible and strong.

Colorado Ballet Principal Dancer Sharon Wehner teaches yoga

 

 

 


Road to Recovery: Yosvani Ramos

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

We follow Colorado Ballet Principal Dancer Yosvani Ramos on his Road to Recovery.   His love for ballet is the thing that has guided him throughout this experience.

Day in the Life with Arianna Ciccarelli

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

It takes years and years of training and discipline, and a lifetime of passion and dedication to become a professional ballerina.” says Arianna Ciccarelli, Corps de Ballet dancer. She has been dancing since she was 7 years old but didn’t decide to try ballet until 11 after watching a movie about Kirov Ballet in which she fell in love with the beauty and discipline of classical ballet.  

Step behind the scenes of a Day in the Life of Arianna Ciccarelli. 

KH: What’s your morning routine before you get to the studio?

AC: I normally get up at 6:45am and go straight to the coffee pot! I don’t like to eat a huge breakfast before class, but I need something substantial to get me started on such a physically demanding day. I like to make avocado toast or a rice cake with peanut butter and bananas.

KH: Walk me through your day once you get to the studio.

AC: Once I get to the studio, I get changed into my rehearsal clothes and go straight to the PT room. I normally like to do 15-30 minutes of Pilates before class. I adjust my workouts to my rehearsal schedules (if I have a long day, I will do much shorter of a workout). After Pilates, I head into the studio to stretch and prepare my pointe shoes for the day!

 

KH: What workouts are you doing during Pilates and why are they important for you?

AC: Every dancer’s body is different, and we all have different things we need to work on! Personally I like to do a lot of ab work and jumping exercises. I struggle a lot with my jumps, so working on them in Pilates is a great way for me to improve coordination and strength.

KH: Tell me more about technique class

AC: We have technique class every day for an hour and 15 minutes. The combinations change every day, but we are working through the same sequences of steps. Even though this is a professional company, we all need to work on keeping our technique clean. Technique class is also our warm up for the rehearsals that follow!

 

KH: You rehearse 6 or more hours a day, how do you stay motivated and focused?

AC: We learn ballets and perform them so quickly, there is barely time to space out. There are so many little details to learn in just a few weeks! Of course, like anyone else we get distracted, but we all love this profession so we are motivated from our own wants and needs to improve.

KH: What do you do during your breaks?

AC: If I have a break, I like to put my feet up and relax a little. Rest is extremely important for dancers and athletes alike. Our job is extremely physically demanding, and if we don’t rest there is a much higher risk for injury! If my body is feeling really fatigued, I will try to schedule a physical therapy or massage appointment.

 

KH: What is your night routine after a long day at the studio?

AC: I typically go home around 6:30 p.m. and prepare a substantial dinner. I am also taking college courses, so I give myself some time after dinner for school work.

KH: How do you unwind and prepare for another day?

AC: If I am really sore, I like to roll out my muscles or take a hot bath. I also try to make time for seeing friends or talking to my family!

10 Questions with Tyler Rhoads

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

From his favorite book to why he dances, you will fall in love with his charming personality. Get to know Colorado Ballet dancer Tyler Rhoads.

Darning with Arianna Ciccarelli

Friday, May 26, 2017

Corps de ballet dancer, Arianna Ciccarelli shows us how she darns her pointe shoes.

2017 Artist Award: Maria Mosina

Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Bonfils-Stanton Foundation presented their 2017 Artist Award to recently retired Colorado Ballet Principal Dancer Maria Mosina at their awards luncheon last week.  Here is a video highlighting Maria and all of her amazing accomplishments, which made her so deserving of the Artist Award.  Congratulations Maria!

Ballet Off Season with Tyler Rhoads

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Tyler RhoadsBy Kendra Harris,

After a record-breaking season packed with four incredible productions, you can imagine a dancer needs time to recoup and relax. I sat down with Tyler Rhoads to talk about how he spends his summers off.

What were some highlights for you this season?

I would say one of my highlights from this season with Colorado Ballet would be Nutcracker. During the last week of shows, I got really sick and I felt so guilty for being sick and not being able to come in for a couple of days. Whenever I came back, everyone was so supportive and encouraging and really helped me not feel as guilty and motivated me to get back out there as quickly as possible to help support my friends and coworkers so that we could all put on the best show possible. 

What did you learn about yourself this year?

I learned that I’m very risk averse and sometimes I need to not be so afraid and just need to go out and take a rise regardless of how it turns out. Sometimes if you’re too afraid to take the risk you end up holding yourself back in the long run. 

What are you plans this summer?

I’m going to be doing a few guestings in Texas, Arizona and locally at Zikr Dance Ensemble so that will keep me pretty busy dancing and hopefully that will keep me. We’re going to be traveling some, Sean and I are going on a train ride to San Francisco because we heard it’s supposed to be really pretty going through the mountains and then we’re also going to Hawaii to Maui for a week so that should be fun.

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