Mount Dora School of Ballet student accepted into the prestigious Royal Ballet Summer Intensive
Producing some of the world’s most renowned dancer’s of all time, The Royal Ballet School in London is without a doubt on the radar of every serious ballet student. To be accepted into their summer program is reserved only for a select few. Elizabeth Powers of the Mount Dora School of Ballet was one of those talented few who called the Covent Garden, London location of the highly regarded school, home for two weeks last summer.
“I was so thrilled and humbled to be apart of such a prestigious summer intensive and couldn’t wait to start classes on the first day. By the last day I was still so thrilled and humbled to have taken part in such an enriching program,” said 17-year-old Elizabeth Powers.
In a class less of than 20 dancers, Elizabeth was able to hone and build her skills and artistry amongst the world’s finest rising stars. Working alongside such powerful dancers brought into focus a realization for her that was hard to go unnoticed.
“It was overall challenging to remember not to compare myself to the other dancers. I loved watching all of the other girls dance but I would constantly look at them and compare them to myself. I had to remind myself we were all selected for a reason and I should maintain my focus on improving to the best of my ability,” said Elizabeth as she reflected on her experience in the highest level class offered at the school.
But as in anything, challenges always make us stronger and more present in the moment, and Elizabeth embraced this opportunity to the fullest.
“I loved being surrounded by dancers my age who were so technically advanced. It pushed me to work to my full ability and work on my technique at the same time. A specific experience that I remember to be my favorite was learning the Queen of Hearts variation from Zenaida Yanowsky, who played the Queen of Hearts in Royal Ballet’s Alice in Wonderland. Her energy throughout the variations class passed on to the rest of us and enriched my experience.”
All wasn’t serious business in the international class of budding ballerinas. As one of only four students from the United States, with dancers coming from throughout the world, a multi-lingual dimension added a challenge for the English-speaking teachers.
“I had this one teacher who thought I was from Spain. She spent the whole class talking to me in a loud voice making sure to pronounce everything slowly and would ask me four or five times if I understood what she was saying. To appease her and not stall the class I would respond with a simple nod each time,” remembered Elizabeth.
“At the end of class when we were thanking her for teaching, she asked me what part of Spain I was from and when I responded with ‘Florida’ the whole class busted out laughing as we all knew the whole time I understood what she was saying. We were all still laughing when she smiled and started laughing herself. It was definitely a good laugh.”
Elizabeth came home from her experience brimming with perhaps not only a newfound love and appreciation for her craft, but also lifelong connections with others that share similar ballet dreams. At the precipice of her career, Elizabeth’s future, wide open and bright, is of her choosing.
Elizabeth’s ballet story, beginning at the age of 3, and with the Mount Dora School of Ballet since the age of 7, has created a foundation for her that has not only exposed her to many dynamic heights, it is certain to take her the distance.
“I grew so much as a dancer under the direction of Mrs. Wheeler and through her careful selection, I have had the opportunity to attend tremendous summer intensives. Several including Houston Ballet, Bolshoi (Connecticut), Boston International Summer Intensive, Ballet West, and Royal Ballet. Training at MDSB has taught me discipline, technique, and to express myself through the roles I portray on stage. I will carry these lessons with me whether I pursue ballet professionally or throughout college.”
Where she will go is certain to play out in this upcoming year as she spreads her wings deeper into the ballet world. Currently a trainee attending Next Generation Ballet in Tampa, FL full time, Elizabeth is perfectly poised to follow her heart’s desires.
“Currently I am applying to colleges with strong dance programs in hopes of continuing dancing throughout college while getting my bachelor’s degree in a subject I’m currently undecided about. I plan on attending several trainee auditions as well to make my final decision whether I strictly pursue dance or if I pursue dance and college at the same time by May. I know whatever path I chose the discipline gained in ballet will help me throughout the rest of my life,” said Elizabeth.