The International Boys of Ballet Academy East
October 10, 2017
The Ballet Academy East Pre-Professional Division is home to hundreds of aspiring dancers, but for some, this home is very far from their actual home. The BAE International Student Program draws students from all over the world looking to take their training to the next level and ultimately reach their goal of a professional career in ballet. We invite you to read about four of our 2017 international graduates and what they are doing now. Tallison Costa and Filipe Aragão from Brazil, Agustin Berstein from Chile, and Patricio de Stabile from Argentina share their stories.
When did you start dancing and why?
Tallison: I started dancing when I was 11 years old because my cousin was part of a dance social project at school. It was helping to improve students\’ grades, so I decided to try it because I thought it could help me with mine. After starting, I just fell in love and couldn\’t stop.
Agustin: I took my first dance class in early 2012. I went to a modern dance school. I wanted to dance as a complement to my circus skills, which were my original focus. I had always wanted to join Cirque du Soleil when I was younger.
Filipe: I started dancing when I was 17 in 2012. I started in ballroom dancing. When I was 19 I decided to do ballet to help with my ballroom, but I enjoyed it more so that’s what I started to mainly study.
Patricio: I started ballet when I was 13 years old at the School of Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Before then I studied musical theater at the school of Julio Bocca, without any interest in ballet. But in the school of Julio Bocca I watched a lot of ballet so I started to feel interested in it. I started to take more classes there and then I decided to audition for the school of Teatro Colon, which is the biggest school of ballet in Argentina. I think that ballet has that mix of discipline, movement, and musicality. It is such a wonderful art. I always want to continue discovering and never stop learning.
How was your time while studying here at BAE?
Tallison: BAE was an incredible experience. I\’ve grown a lot not only as a ballet dancer but as a person. I\’ll never forget anything that I\’ve learned there and I feel like a have a new family. I\’ll always remember all the good times that I had there. A major highlight for me at BAE was having the honor of being the first recipient of the David Howard Foundation Scholarship.
Agustin: At first it was complicated because I was commuting 2 hours (each way) from New Jersey; things got much better once I moved into the city. My first year was all about learning proper technique, so my body took a huge beating as it realized what real ballet was about: those days were very productive, painful, and sweaty! Towards my second year, I got stronger and was able to enjoy my dancing, rather than overanalyze it. I simply felt that I was working a new, different, better way, that was in harmony with me. The entire experience was so empowering yet humbling.
Filipe: It was an amazing experience for me because I started late as a dancer and it was a great place to learn proper technique. They teach technique as pure as it can be. They gave me the tools I needed to catch up my ballet technique to others my age. I started in level 3 so I had a lot of work to do and luckily they have amazing faculty that really push you to work your hardest give you such an enriching experience.
Patricio: It was perfect. BAE was exactly the school that I was looking for, not just because of the strong program, but because Julia Dubno and Darla Hoover were so nurturing during my time in the school. I had the opportunity to meet amazing teachers and learn from all of them, about ballet and about life lessons. I also loved the David Howard Library at BAE.
What did you enjoy most?
Tallison: I enjoyed every single class so much and the teachings at BAE because it was so different from what I had in Brazil. I had a great time with my many new friends there; I confess that I\’ll miss them a lot.
Agustin: I enjoyed the most getting a taste of each teacher\’s individual style, I think it was very enriching for me and it promoted the ability to adapt to different aesthetics. During class I developed friendly competition with my classmates, challenging each other to hold a balance for the longest or do the most repetitions of petit allegro even if we were all exhausted, which made things exciting and kept me motivated to improve. I also loved chatting with the wonderful staff in my breaks.
Filipe: The environment was very nurturing and all the teachers are very attentive. They want you to be healthy and to be happy. They helped me work through problems I encountered beyond just ballet.
Patricio: There was not a moment that I enjoy the most, because I enjoyed every moment. I have the best memories of the whole year, including rehearsing on my own or with Francis Patrelle and Anne Kelly. I loved rehearsing George Balanchine’s Donizetti Variations with Darla, Elizabeth Walker, and Gonzalo Garcia. I also loved learning Jenna Lavin and William Whitener’s choreography.
What did you most gain from living and learning in New York City?
Tallison: I loved living in New York a lot, it\’s a beautiful city and very big. It\’s different from what I was used to, but I had a great experience living there. I\’ll never forget those incredible moments.
Agustin: I gained tons of self-discipline by living on my own. Nobody will wake you up or cook food for you. I had to keep track of my expenses and be smart about my training, which meant to eat and sleep right. I also broadened my artistic horizons by treating myself to go see the New York City Ballet and American Ballet Theatre several times.
Filipe: Living in NYC was very different form Brazil. We have a very big cultural difference but NYC is very urban and has a lot of different cultures so I was able to find a little bit of Brazil in New York. Also, everything is so close to one another and the public transportation is amazing so it made it so easy to go and see NYCB on a night off and enrich my education in that way. You can find everything you need and want there.
Patricio: New York, I think there are no words to describe it at all. It is such a wonderful, energetic, alive, powerful, and artistic city. I would love to go back again and again and again. I learned a lot about myself through my experiences in New York City.
Do you have any advice for dancers currently studying at BAE?
Tallison: My advice is never give up on your dreams; always work the hardest you can because all the hard work is worth the effort.
Agustin: My advice would be to not take any class or correction for granted. Everyone has something that can contribute to your dancing. Be open; be willing to listen. Being here is a privilege and acknowledging that is the best way to honor it.
Filipe: I have a mixed training of Balanchine, ABT, and my Brazilian background so I have a lot of different perspectives on ballet technique. My advice is to absorb all you can and be open to all of it. Embrace the different techniques and listen to all of the teachers because they were (and are) all amazing dancers. Be patient with yourself and listen to yourself and your body and you will make amazing progress.
Patricio: I don\’t usually give advice because I don’t consider myself an expert, but one thing that helped me a lot during my time at BAE was to be open-minded and hungry to learn. This made a huge impact on my life.
What are your next steps as a dancer? Where are you off to, and what are your future plans?
Tallison: My next step as a ballet dancer is to work at a professional company, and of course continue to improve my ballet technique. I have just moved to Mexico and am now a corps de ballet member of the Ballet de Monterrey, directed by José Manuel Carreño.
Agustin: After graduating from BAE, I got back to Chile and I was invited by Marcia Haydée to perform six shows of Maurice Béjarts, “Bolero”, with Ballet de Santiago, at the Chilean National Opera (directed by Marcia Haydée). I\’ve been taking company class every day since then. The company\’s subdirector told me they are planning to hire me for the next season, which starts in March. So meanwhile my next steps as a dancer will be dancing “Aladdin”, with the student company of the official school, in October, then “Raymonda”, with the main company, in November. I\’ve also gone back to law school at Universidad de Chile, picking up my studies from where I left off (I withdrew to come to BAE). I\’m so busy and tired but I couldn\’t be happier or more excited for everything that\’s coming up!
Filipe: I graduated BAE and was hired by Huntsville Ballet Company under the direction of Phillip Otto. I\’m enjoying my first season with them and we have three different programs in our season. I\’m also choreographing for the fall show and it\’s amazing to have the opportunity to choreograph for the company. I\’m just hoping to keep learning and growing even as a professional.
Patricio: I\’m taking classes with Teatro Colon and also privately with Raquel Rossetti, preparing for upcoming auditions in Uruguay and Chile. I hope to make a trip to New York in January. If I do, I will definitely visit BAE!
Photo Credits (Left to Right): Rosalie O\’Connor, Rosalie O\’Connor, Christopher Duggan, Christopher Duggan