Here’s a sneak peak at a new resource for dancers, students, parents, teachers, balletomanes, and anyone who harbors dreams, expectations, unrequited love, or simply passion for ballet.
Ballet Mentor, which will officially launch on October 1st, is the brainchild of Eric Tamm, Luis Ribagorda, Sarah Lane, and Craig Salstein – all esteemed current or former artists of American Ballet Theatre. Ten professionals with current or past connections to ABT, each of whom enjoys high respect within the ballet field and has a reputation for integrity and common sense, have joined the endeavor to provide private mentoring to individuals through a subscription-based service. Cory Stearns, Calvin Royal III, Craig Salstein, Sarah Lane, Katherine Williams, Nicole Graniero, Gillian Murphy, Thomas Forster, Jared Matthews, and Yuriko Kajiya are the inaugural mentors for this new and very unique program.
Here is what Eric Tamm conveyed to Haglund today:
This website gives students, teachers, parents, and balletomanes direct contact with professional dancers, who can answer questions, offer advice and guidance, and customize a unique one on one experience for whatever subjects/topics want to be addressed. Specifically, we felt that there was a huge gap between students and those of us, who have the experience in navigating a career in ballet, so hopefully Ballet Mentor can better prepare people for company life and make educated decisions to achieve their goals. The beautiful thing is this platform can be used in numerous ways depending on the Subscriber and their needs (i.e. ballet theory, schools & summer programs, the audition process, etc.). The knowledge that we have gained as performing artists over the years shouldn't be lost but passed down…and we’re excited to share it.
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There are 10 mentors (5 Women / 5 Men) to choose from currently, but that is scheduled to grow with time. Subscribers are asked to sign up for lengths of time (1 month, 3 months, or 12 months), after which they are then paired with a mentor and communication begins. All messages are private and sent/received through the Ballet Mentor website. All mentors are performing artists with hectic travel and rehearsal schedules, so responses are guaranteed within 7 calendar days. The whole experience should be very personalized and unique to the Subscriber…making it exciting to all involved!
From the About Us page:
In an art form with no words, Ballet Mentor gives ballet a voice by connecting the professional dance world with those who desire to love and learn more about it. Ballet Mentor breaks the boundaries of the stage and opens up information & life experiences attained by the world’s top professional artists. Founded by four professional ballet dancers from American Ballet Theatre, Sarah Lane, Eric Tamm, Craig Salstein, & Luis Ribagorda, our goal is to encourage connectivity in the ballet world and develop a supportive environment in which relationships surrounding a love for ballet will grow. We understand what the road to becoming a professional ballet dancer takes and Ballet Mentor was designed to give that extra boost to the next generation.
A lot of parents of students and professionals read Haglund’s Heel, and now and then, they write to Old Hag off-blog with questions, pent-up frustrations, thanks, observations - you name it. Even the parents of some of these mentors have written to Haglund over the years, but shshsh, don’t squeal. So obviously there is a need for more connectivity between ballet participants (and those who support them) with professionals who have already forged a path to a successful career and have encountered the common troubling or perplexing issues. Look at it this way, if you are giving your child sound advice but he’s not buying it, and all of a sudden he gets a message from Jared Matthews or Cory Stearns that says basically the same thing — as a parent, you win. Game over, you win. The same goes for the teacher who might be trying to stop foot-winging or ear-whacking extensions. Hear it from Gillian Murphy and all of sudden it matters a lot more to the student.
We can see that this website and subscription model are going to be especially valuable tools for ballet teachers in all parts of this country, urban and remote, and around the world. Who knows – maybe a teacher will be able to persuade the mentor to come to town for some guest teaching or perhaps just a Skype Q&A session in the studio. Anyone entrusted with a ballet classroom has an economical opportunity to get top-notch mentoring that will improve educational outcomes.
We can’t wait to see this get off the ground. Take a look for yourself: Ballet Mentor