Why I Love Ballet

11 May

What is life?  What is art?  What is a dancer?  American Ballet Theatre reminds us why we live, love and express… ­When one enters the doors of the training building on Broadway, one is instantly reminded why it is we became a dancer, and a lover of the art form.  And why it is we decided to leave so many other opportunities behind so that we might have the opportunity to pursue this passion, this grace that is often so intangible and yet there it is… lingering, waiting for us to pursue it.

Even the doorman of the building was once a dancer with dreams and even he is so loyal that he stays there and continues to be an integral part of the whole, keeping the dancers safe, so that the vision may continue.  With dignity, he leads each dancer or artist who enters the building into the ancient creaking elevator where one might see a well known company dancer, who may give you a hint of a smile and a glimmer in their eyes and you get chills remembering who has been in this very same building – Mikhail Baryshnikov, Gelsey Kirkland, Natalia Makarova, just to mention a few… some of the very best ballet dancers who ever existed in the world danced in these very same studios, changed in these very same dressing rooms and pursued their own dreams and passions.

Growing up in Colorado, I used to be able only to read about these stars of the ballet and to watch videos, dreaming of what they might experience, see, learn, contribute… And now, here I am, after my career as a dancer has already ended.  Yet, I have come to ABT to see if there might still be some glimpse or glimmer here of what I dreamed of as a child and even as a professional, here for me to grasp and bring into the future.

I am constantly reminded of why I love ballet when I walk the halls of ABT, as an intern, a teaching assistant and an ABT- NYU Graduate Student in ballet pedagogy.  The sounds of the live piano playing music for rehearsals and ballet classes, the voices of teachers and coaches echoing words of encouragement and artistry, glances of world renowned dancers rehearsing, and up and coming talent in the school and studio company…  The inspirational words of Raymond Lukens in our NYU courses…  I at once felt at home and felt my ideas and ideals for ballet mesh with the vision and leaders of ABT.  And then, there was an amazing lecture for the interns, given by the Chief Executive Officer and former company dancer of ABT, Rachel Moore.  Her life and professional pursuits were incredibly inspiring to hear about first person.  I also selfishly felt as though she was speaking directly to me, about her goals to encourage up and coming young female choreographers, and the need for choreographers who are trained in both ballet and acting.  It is certainly a testimony to her gift for public speaking, when she can make a listener feel she is speaking to that person directly.  And such is the gift of American Ballet Theatre.  They know how to reach the heart and soul of their audience, dancers, students and anyone who comes in contact with a professional or school performance, or with some other component of their massive outreach efforts in Project Plié, public school outreach or teacher trainings…  And so, one walks away with a lingering sense of more to come, and hopes for the future, looking forward to what is next.

Thank you, ABT, for your constant inspiration that helps to push us toward our dreams and goals.

Anna Duvall

Spring 2015

National Training Curriculum Intern

Watch a Clip From ‘American Ballet Theatre: A History’ (Exclusive)


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