Natasha Sheehan says competing gave her a crack at rep beyond her rank. Photo by Erik Tomasson, courtesy SFB
As a student, Katherine Barkman competed in several prestigious ballet competitions, and even won first place at the Youth America Grand Prix in Philadelphia. But at age 21, already a guest principal dancer with Ballet Manila, she decided to return to the competition stage as a professional. She found herself humbled by an experience at the 2017 Moscow International Ballet Competition.
"I was pretty intimidated, thinking, This is the big leagues, this is the Bolshoi Theatre," says Barkman, who was eliminated after the first round. "You are not just judged on how good you are for your age."
Competitions have long had a place in the training of young dancers, allowing them more opportunities to perform and learn under pressure. But even after you've secured a company contract, there are myriad benefits to putting yourself in front of judges.
Dimensions Dane Theatre of Miami performs Gerald Arpino's Light Rain as part of the Joffrey/Arpino Celebration. Photo by Simon Soong, Courtesy The Gerald Arpino Foundation
This year has been a time to commemorate Robert Joffrey and Gerald Arpino's huge contributions to American dance, as 2018 marks the 30th and 10th anniversaries of their deaths, respectively. On June 10, The Joffrey Ballet brought Arpino's neo-romantic Round of Angels (1983) to the USA International Ballet Competition in Jackson, MS, where Joffrey chaired the jury for years. A Joffrey master class and lecture took place on June 18. Dimensions Dance Theatre of Miami, the young company founded by former Miami City Ballet stars Jennifer Kronenberg and Carlos Guerra, brings Arpino's boldly sensual Light Rain to The Joyce Theater June 26–27. arpinofoundation.org.