Cary, NC – The Cary area is filled with students working to become better and better in not just ballet but a variety of styles. And last year, the Cary Ballet Conservatory worked to focus that effort with a Professional Training Program, which returns this September.
Professional Level Training
Going into its second year, the Professional Training Program has already been highly successful under the guidance of Program Director Mariaelena Ruiz.
“We started from scratch. I had all this experience and people knew me and we saw what we could do,” Ruiz said.
Previously, Ruiz had worked as the ballet master at the Rock School for Dance Education in Philadelphia. But in the year since starting the Professional Training Program, it has already sent dancers to a competition in New York where they became finalists and went to the American Dance Competition in Orlando, Florida where one of Cary’s dancers, Emily Hall, received a gold medal and Ruiz won the Best Teacher Award.
“It was humbling because I have been in this industry for a long time,” Ruiz said.
In the beginning, although Ruiz said the Cary community was behind the conservatory’s efforts, she was still creating an entirely new program.
“I used all my experience, but at the same time, I had to be flexible because this is a new area,” she said.
Part of what makes the Professional Training Program stand out is the amount of attention the individual dance students get. The program has been getting interest nationwide from dance students who want this level of attention and care.
“Even though the school is very big, the program is very hands-on and personal,” Ruiz said. “But they still have to be a unit. It’s not private coaching.”
Students audition to get into the program and Ruiz said it has had a tremendous impact on the conservatory and “raised the bar,” as she put it, getting younger students interested.
“For the new year, we have created a bridge – a studio program – between our afternoon program and the professional program for younger students to get ready,” she said. The studio program is also by audition.
One of the other changes in this year’s Professional Training Program from last year is giving the program more space as opposed to the afternoon classes.
And Ruiz said dance can be a good outlet for anyone and there are many people who come to the Cary Ballet Conservatory who are not looking to become professionals.
“Even if you do it at the recreational level, you still have to do it right,” she said. “I always tell my students that this all matters in the outside world. In your job, you will need to know good training from bad training; good work from bad work.”
And for people who are not sure if dance is for them, Ruiz said they will never know until they try.
Story by Michael Papich. Photos by Brooke Meyer and courtesy of Pointe Magazine.