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Charlotte graduate stays on her toes

Photo provided courtesy of Houston Ballet

Photo provided courtesy of Houston Ballet

While her classmates were walking across the stage at Oven’s Auditorium to celebrate graduation last month, Performing Learning Center’s eLearning Academy graduate Eleanor “Ellie” Frith was preparing for her performance in Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake” at the Houston Ballet, where she is in the corps de ballet.
Ellie was offered a position with the Houston Ballet II on a year contract, though that wasn’t her first experience with the academy. She was accepted into the Houston Ballet Academy’s year-round program when she was 15, and has since studied as a virtual student with PLC during her junior and senior years.
Only dancers with a high maturity level and talent are accepted into the program, said Sally Rojas, an instructor at the Houston Ballet Academy.
“When it came to Ellie, that was one quality we all saw from her: the maturity and high standards for herself,” Rojas said. “She was a well-rounded dancer.”
All dancers at the academy are given resources to stay healthy – mentally and physically – including weekly or biweekly visits with a psychologist, meal plans from a nutritionist and skilled trainers. Ellie excelled in the training, impressing her instructors and landing a spot in the Houston Ballet II, which is Houston Ballet’s second company and part of Houston Ballet Academy. The program strives “to provide students the opportunity to have leading roles in varied repertoire,” “to allow the dancers to develop technically and artistically by actual performance experience” and “to serve the greater Houston community by providing quality, professional performances,” according to the Houston Ballet website.
The organization describes the second company as a way for the Houston Ballet “to serve its constituents by reaching smaller communities that might not have the chance to see major ballet companies perform.” The group consisted of 17 dancers, 8 men and 9 women, during the 2013-14 season.
Houston Ballet II Ballet Mistress Sabrina Lenzi said the company is a special second company to supplement the main company if they need it. The company has their own individual performances, but also can perform with the main company. They look for dancers – not only from the academy, but from other states and countries – who are quality dancers, Lenzi said.
“In our criteria, we look for technical ability (and) artistic presentation that would suite the overall company in the eyes of the artistic director, Stanton Welch,” she added.
Individuals in the second company work just as hard as the main performers and must have a significant amount of strength to accomplish their performances, Lenzi said.
“Dancing hours are very long,” Lenzi said, adding that the typical day for a dancer starts at 9 a.m. but doesn’t end until 6 or 7 p.m.
Lenzi feels Ellie has proven herself to have the strength needed to be in Houston Ballet II. The two met during a summer session at the Houston Ballet when Ellie was 14, and Lenzi has had had faith in the teen ever since she began attending the academy full-time.
“She has done very well and has proven herself to be a talented dancer,” Lenzi said. “Ellie shows a great disciple and is a very intelligent girl. Through her work, she has shown her ability to train and become a great dancer.”
Ellie had the chops to make a name for herself and has worked to secure her position, those close to her say.
“I think she has an extraordinary work ethic,” Rojas said. “She has been very willing and open to make the changes and continue with her personal growth.”

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Courtney Schultz

About Courtney Schultz

Courtney Schultz is a graduate from Campbell University in Buies Creek, N.C. She has both a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Political Science. At Campbell, she was the editor-in-chief of the university’s student newspaper for nearly three years and worked for the Siskey YMCA in their membership services and marketing department. She covers education news for the Matthews, Mint-Hill, and greater Charlotte areas.
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One Response

  1. Hi Courtney, I would like to invite you to an Open House that will showcase my Girl Scout Gold Award project at Greenway Park Elementary. If that is something you might be interested in attending and doing a story about, please send me your email address so I can send you an invitation.

    Katie Thomas

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