In Part #1 of her interview with NY Gifted Education Examiner, ballerina Julie Kent talked about how her parents' experience raising their dancing prodigy informed the way she was now raising her own gifted and talented children, including finding the right New York City school.
Today, she offers advice to aspiring dancers - and their families - as well as reveals where, despite retiring from American Ballet Theatre this summer, she will be performing next, and why this event is particularly important to her.
NY Gifted Education Examiner: You were recently named ABT's Summer Intensive Artistic Director. You will be selecting aspiring dancers from all across the country to participate in ABT's summer programs. How does that work? What will you be looking for? What can you tell parents of children who may want a life in dance about the steps they should be taking now to become eligible?
Julie Kent: I am thrilled with my appointment as Artistic Director of ABT’s Summer Program. Our expansive program will allow me the opportunity to teach our nation’s most promising young dancers in an elite ballet summer program. My approach is founded on the principal of offering the incredible benefits of an arts education, in a formative, positive environment based on fulfilling the potential of the individual. As well, I hope to facilitate opportunities for further study at ABT to those that clearly have the possibility for professional careers in classical ballet. We are holding auditions in 22 cities across the nation in January 2016, and video auditions are accepted as well. ABT’s website has all the information and details about our audition process and dates.
My strong feeling is that what these children will learn through their studies of ballet will serve them throughout their lifetime. I think anyone would agree that ingredients for success in any field are: hard work, dedication, focus, time, effort…and love (passion, drive). A dancer’s basic philosophy is to start each day the same: in first position. And then begins the process of building on what we have accomplished the day before, working tirelessly to improve even the slightest detail. All of these young dancers arrive with this eager, hopeful mentality. It is our job to assure them that although a career in classical dance is not for everyone, a life with this mentality is a key to a successful, productive career in any field.
NYGEE: On November 16, you will be performing at the debra of America benefit. Why is this charity important to you and how can people get involved?
JK: Four years ago, I met a little girl at my daughter’s pre-school who has Epidermylosis Bullosa, “the worst disease you've never heard of”. I saw her down the hall, and, in one instant, I could see so clearly what she has to endure every moment of every day. And yet in the same instant, I saw her determination simply to go to her music class…to be a little girl…to live. It was both heartbreaking and inspiring. The school’s community was organizing a “5K Run” fundraiser to show support for her and her family, and I asked my son, who was 7 at the time, if he would like to participate. Without hesitation, he simply said, “yes”. To me, that was a very beautiful moment. My son didn't even know what a 5K was, but his simple answer taught me that all you have to do to help is say, “yes”. That afternoon, I went online and started a fundraising page in his name. I had no experience whatsoever, but simply followed instructions and sent some emails to family and friends in our community. In the years since, we have involved both my children’s schools in raising money and awareness for EB and, this year, I wanted to lend my support with a performance at DEBRA’s Annual Benefit. I have been joined in my efforts by some very important people in my life, Anya Cole of HANIA who I represent as a Brand Ambassador (see photo, above, of Kent and daughter Josephine modeling Hania by Anya) and Leslie Ziff, both close friends and philanthropists. And as well, stars from American Ballet Theatre will be lending their time and talent for this wonderful cause, ensuring that the evening will be both exciting and beautiful. It is deeply meaningful to me to bring these worlds together in the hope to change the lives of children and families suffering with this disease.
To buy tickets for the benefit performance, go to: https://www.debra.org/Benefit2015