Bettes dancing "Coppélia" at the Cape Town International Ballet Competition. Courtesy Patel Conservatory.
Even before taking her first professional bow with Boston Ballet this fall, Hannah Bettes was one of the best-known teens in ballet. Her bright, lyrical presence, together with a stunning facility (those feet), has won her numerous competition medals and a devoted following. Now in her first season as a corps member, she’s discovering how competition fame translates into a career.
Company: Boston Ballet
Hometown: DeLand, FL
Training: Central Florida Ballet School, Next Generation Ballet at the Patel Conservatory, The Royal Ballet School
Accolades: Youth America Grand Prix gold medal, junior division; World Ballet Competition silver medal, pre-professional division; Prix de Lausanne second prize, Audience Choice
Breakout moments: After winning at Prix de Lausanne in 2012, she spent her last two years of training at RBS, where Liam Scarlett chose Bettes as a soloist for a ballet he set on the school.
On transitioning into company life: “Ballet can be selfish at times—you’re always working on yourself—but now, being part of a corps de ballet where everyone has to be the same, it’s not really a selfish thing anymore.”
What she’s working on: ”I’m still constantly working toward holding my turnout. And a lot of my base technique, I find, is still kind of weak. From the competitions, I learned how to do a lot of tricks, but it’s the little in-between steps that I’m still faulty with.”
What Nissinen is saying: “She was a top-level student, but it’s a very different thing to be a student than a professional—I was willing to take that big step and start her in the company,” says Boston Ballet artistic director Mikko Nissinen. “And she has been able to handle it. Now, it’s just: How do we hone those qualities? How do we make her a top-rate artist? This is just the beginning.”
Her first year at Boston: Bettes has already rehearsed soloist roles, including Neapolitan and four little swans in Swan Lake, and she performed the ballerina doll in Nutcracker. This spring, she is thrilled to revisit her contemporary roots. “We’re doing Episodes and Chroma in the same triple bill. Just being around it will be incredible.”
James Whiteside (Jayme Thornton for Dance Magazine)
Say you're perpetually impeccable designer Thom Browne. Say you're planning your Spring 2020 Paris menswear show along a "Versailles country club" theme. Say you want a world-class danseur to open the show with some kind of appropriately fabulous choreography.
Who do you call? James Whiteside, of course. On Saturday, the American Ballet Theatre principal—wearing pointe shoes and a glorious pinstriped tutu—kicked off Browne's presentation at the École des Beaux-Arts with a 15-minute, show-stealing solo. Whiteside choreographed the piece himself, with the help of detailed notes from the designer.
I'd been a professional dancer for five years when I realized the pain I'd been feeling in my hip and down my sciatic nerve was not going away. I had been treating it for two years as we dancers do—with regular visits to my masseuse, physical therapy, baths, ice and lots of Aleve—but I never stopped dancing. It finally dawned on me that if I kept going at the speed I was going (which was, well, speedy), the pain would only get more severe and unrelenting, and I might never dance again.
I told myself I'd take two months off, and all would be better.
That first morning when I woke up at 10 am, I had no idea what to do with myself. My life until that moment had been dictated by class and rehearsal, every hour accounted for. How should I fill the huge swath of time ahead of me?