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Photo by Rachel Papo

When Monica Stephenson was a student at Houston Ballet Academy, she was cast as Lauren Anderson's swan double in Swan Lake. The role was just a few walks in Odile's tutu and a veil as the scene changed, but it was a thrill for the 18-year-old Stephenson. Anderson, one of the few principal ballerinas of color, was the inspiration for Stephenson to attend Houston Ballet Academy.

For the role, wardrobe gave Stephenson a few pairs of Anderson's special-order pointe shoes that were brown to match her skin tone. "That really helped me," Stephenson says. "I wound up wearing her specs my entire career. Sometimes people don't realize when they're impacting a young person."

Stephenson never forgot what it meant to have a role model like Anderson. She knew she'd want to inspire ballet students of color herself someday.

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Dance Teacher Tips
With her advanced dancers, Andrea Paris-Gutierrez allows 20 to 30 minutes of class for jumping, post-barre. Photo by Iker Gutierrez, courtesy of Los Angeles Ballet Academy

Ensuring that the timing of a 90-minute class delivers the best results can be struggle. Here, two teachers discuss the importance of leaving enough time to maximize your dancers' strength.

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Esmiana Jani and Tamas Krizsa in The Washington Ballet's Juanita y Alicia. Photo by Dean Alexander, courtesy of The Washington Ballet

After just a few months on the job as artistic director for The Washington Ballet, Julie Kent has revamped the company's enrichment programs and its school.

Dance legends will join Kent three times during the season in the series “ICONS: of dance—Sundays at The Joe." American Ballet Theatre artistic director Kevin McKenzie is the first to appear, September 18, to discuss his time training with Mary Day, founder of The Washington School of Ballet (TWSB). A member of the artistic staff will lead another five-part series “Beyond the Stage—Sundays at The Joe," which covers information and history about upcoming main stage works. The first takes place September 25, to discuss the company's 40th anniversary program. And beginning in October, Kent will lead four “Dialogue with Dancers—Sundays at The Joe" discussions where two company members talk about their backgrounds, motivations and approaches to their roles. “You have to support the programming with opportunities for people to learn why the master works are important," she says.

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The new studios are available to the public to rent.

The Washington School of Ballet has announced the expansion of its northwest campus, located a few blocks from the main headquarters. The three new dance studios on the second floor will serve as a rehearsal space for The Washington Ballet and allow for added youth and adult ballet classes and new adult ballroom and contemporary classes. The Joseph C. Coleman Studios are open and available to rent for rehearsals and events.

Photo courtesy of The Washington Ballet

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