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Isabella Boylston's Master Class at NDI Inspired Kids (and Included a Special Guest)

Isabella Boylston leading a class at the National Dance Institute in Harlem. Photo by Betsy Farber

American Ballet Theatre's youngest principal ballerina, Isabella Boylston, taught a group of students at the National Dance Institute in Harlem. The 45-minute master class was filled with a short barre, center work and a visit from the institute's founder, former NYCB principal dancer Jacques d'Amboise.


Right away the kids were captivated by Boylston's humble grace. "I never liked barre that much when I was your age," Boylston admitted. "So I'm trying to get it done faster!"

She packed a lot of invaluable information into the short time, breaking down the importance of port de bras: "Remember to keep the elbows lifted, and think relaxed fingers, not spatula hands," she said. She went through how to properly spot when turning and how to add artistry in class.

She also emphasized the importance of tendus: "Every position in ballet comes from tendu, whether it's your leg up or a jump. Every time you point your foot, you want to stretch your knee to its fullest so you're engaging all the leg muscles, and point your toes to the very end so the energy doesn't stop."

Boylston teaching a pirouette combination. Photo by Betsy Farber

The master class is part of NDI's Summer Institute, a scholarship program for children drawn from NDI's In-School Program. The no-fee program is offered to kids throughout New York City, many of who are from low-income and underserved communities. It gives students further exposure to music and movement and training from a professional ballet dancer.

Photo by Betsy Farber

After Boylston led the group through a révérence, d'Amboise taught the class how to correctly bow and acknowledge the audience after a performance. "And always remember to thank the accompanist after class," he added.

Photo by Betsy Farber

Following the class, Boylston had a Q&A with questions from the students and offered some great advice for teachers.

Watch the full session below:

For more about the NDI, visit here.

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