BAE Student Mallory Williams Shares Her Touching Story
May 17, 2017
It’s Christmas. Malloy Williams’ grandmother doesn’t know what to get her three-year old granddaughter. She thinks, “A ballet class DVD. Little girls love ballet!”
Little Mallory opens the gift. She is so excited about the DVD she asks her mom to watch it right away. She loves it and plays it over and over and over.
Mallory, self-admittedly, a “hyperactive” child watches the DVD day after day, week after week. It holds her interest like nothing has before. She moves her arms and legs, imitating the girls on the screen. She twirls. She falls in love with ballet.
At four, she starts taking dance classes at a small school in New Jersey. She adores all forms of dance, but ballet is her favorite. At six, she attends the ballet, The Sleeping Beautyand is captivated. The next week she signs up to attend New Jersey School of Ballet to study ballet exclusively.
Ballet is her passion. Her fate is sealed.
Mallory’s love for ballet has shaped her life. “I’ve always known I wanted to be a ballerina. From the second I saw those ballerinas twirling and moving to such beautiful music in The Sleeping Beauty, I knew ballet was for me. My love for ballet at such an early age cannot be put in to words. It’s all I cared about and all I wanted to do. My passion was apparent from day one,” recalls Mallory.
Today, Mallory is a BAE student poised to begin living her dream. In August she will become a member of Nashville Ballet. But before she takes the next step in fulfilling her destiny, we sat down with Mallory to take a look back to see how BAE helped her realize her aspiration to dance professionally.
Why did you want to attend BAE?
As I grew up, my passion for ballet only got stronger, I started giving up my summers around the pool with my friends to work in the studio. If I wanted to make my dream of being a professional ballerina a reality, I had to train year-round. I knew I had to dedicate my life completely to ballet and I did just that.
I studied at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet (CPYB) for five weeks during the summer in 2012 and 2013. There were amazing dancers there and I wanted to look like them. The second summer, I was placed in the most advanced level. I was fully aware I was the weakest dancer in the level, but that only motivated me more. I had Darla Hoover [BAE Artistic Director and CPYB Associate Artistic Director] and I remember thinking that she was a genius. She has a gift for teaching.
I got so strong during those two summers and learned so much from all the teachers at CPYB, especially Darla. I wanted to work with her all the time. After class one day I approached her and told her that I wanted to get out of New Jersey to study even harder. I wanted to go to Ballet Academy East. Her dancers were so advanced, so beautiful, and I was so hungry for that. She told me right then and there that she would be happy to accept me for the following year, so I left home at sixteen to study with Darla at BAE.
I’d do anything to dance. I know I sacrificed having a normal teenage life, but it didn’t feel like that to me. I look at it as chasing my dreams.
Can you describe what your experience has been like at BAE?
My experience at BAE? Hard, but so rewarding. BAE is such an incredible school. The faculty is nothing short of the best. We have teachers who have danced with world-renowned companies such as New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Pennsylvania Ballet and many more. They have so much wisdom to offer and really care about all of the students, not only just as dancers, but also on a personal level.
The training here is the best of the best. We work in the studios Monday through Saturday for at least 20 hours each week. It’s both physically and mentally exhausting, but its so rewarding because the fast improvement for all the dancers here is evident. Before BAE, I couldn’t take a class without crying because I’d be in so much pain from my injuries. I have been dancing pain-free for three years now, thanks to the love and dedication of the teachers here.
BAE is not only an incredible school; it’s a family. We live in the studio and we’re always together. We grow and learn together, and we are each other’s support systems. I feel very blessed to have this amazing opportunity to train here.
How did BAE prepare you to become a member of Nashville Ballet?
I could not have become a member of Nashville Ballet without BAE. They gave me the best education possible. After I auditioned for the company, Paul Vasterling, the director, told me that he liked me the second he saw me. Once he saw that I was from BAE he really focused on me because he said that he loves BAE dancers. I felt like I was one of the strongest dancers in there.
At BAE, the Pre-Professional Division students perform twice a year. Performing is very important to a dancer’s education because not only do you have to have beautiful technique, you also have to learn to take that training and discipline and translate it into art on the stage. Ballet goes way beyond just technique.
Darla firmly believes that to become a great dancer, you have to be a nice and genuine person. BAE didn’t only teach me technique, but also artistry, people skills and how to work intelligently. I am forever grateful to BAE and all of the teachers here. They got me to where I am today. I am so honored and elated to be joining the Nashville Ballet in August!
Come see Mallory Williams in her farewell BAE’s Spring Performance!
In this year’s BAE Spring Performance, level 8/9 will be dancing a beautiful piece choreographed by Alan Hineline titled Sans Nuages, meaning without clouds. Her role in this piece is one of the demi couples. The fourteen-minute ballet showcases BAE’s simplistic beauty.
She will also perform in CoppéliaAct III which was staged by Alabama Ballet’s associate artistic director, Roger Van Fleteren. She is playing the principal role of Swanilda in two of the shows and in the other two she plays a friend of Swanilda.
photo top right by Christopher Duggan, rehearsal of Sans Nuages, choreographed by Alan Hineline
photo bottom left by Rosalie O\’Connor, Spring Forth, choreographed by Rex Wheeler