Roberto Bolle's rise in ballet reads like a fairy tale—one in which he's the prince. At 15, he was hand-picked by Rudolf Nureyev to perform with La Scala Ballet, and by 19 he was hired into the company. Two years later, he rose to the rank of principal, and in 2009, he joined American Ballet Theatre.
"A lot of ballets remind me of Roberto," says Hee Seo, ABT principal, who danced the role of Manon in Bolle's farewell performance this summer. Although Bolle will continue to guest with La Scala, he is leaving ABT to devote more time to a festival he's building in Italy. His final role with the company had special significance: Bolle also debuted with ABT in Manon, when Italian ballerina Alessandra Ferri requested him as her partner.
August is the time for getting back in shape. Some take summer workshops, some dabble in Pilates, but I decided to take an Aqua Zumba class. I love Zumba, and though I’m no Missy Franklin, I thought that between my years of dance training and adequate swimming skills, I’d be qualified for the class. Turns out that underwater, I have the coordination of a 12-year-old boy at a school dance.
Aqua Zumba has the same ingredients of a normal Zumba class: watered-down (pun intended) Latin dance steps peppered with aerobic exercises, international bass-pumping music, and lots of energy.
The class is taught by an instructor on land, while the rest of the class is in the water at the shallow end of the pool, so that both feet can be on the floor.
“I remember to move at water tempo, which is about half the time on land,” says Taryn Hitchman, former dancer turned Aqua Zumba instructor at New York Health and Racquet Club. “I’m not up there doing a fast meringue!”
Hitchman gave the class webbed aqua aerobic gloves to increase resistance, something she learned while getting her Aquatic Exercise Association certification. The gloves made simple fist pumps and wrist movements impossible.
We splashed, shook, and shimmied to the sounds of J.Lo, Pitbull, and Gloria Estefan. The only things you need for Aqua Zumba class are a swimsuit, gloves, and the humility to shake your groove thing underwater. But as Hitchman says, “You’re moving in water up to your neck, so nobody’s watching!” Some of the class also wore floatable belts around their waists for more support.
Aqua aerobics can be great for dancers. It’s easy on the joints and the water resistance makes simple movements challenging. One exercise we did involved putting your instep on a noodle, with your back against the wall, and doing ten dégagés to the front, side, and back.
It was hard to tell which was sorer the next day—my legs from kicking, or my mouth from smiling.
Click here to find an Aqua Zumba class near you! —Cory Stieg
Join the pool party!
Born and bred a bunhead, Kaitlyn Jenkins, 20, is reliving her dance memories onscreen. On ABC Family’s Bunheads, Kaitlyn plays Bettina “Boo” Jordan, a loveable dancer at Fanny’s studio. In this exclusive interview with Dance Magazine, Kaitlyn dishes on auditions, body type, and being Boo.
When did you start dancing? My mom was a dancer so I’ve always been dancing. From when I was 3 to 13 I was at a competition studio studying tap, jazz, and ballet. When I was 13, I switched to all ballet at the Anaheim Ballet. I did summer intensives every year: The Jilana School, Kaatsbaan, ABT New York, and Boston Ballet.
When did you start acting? I started acting when I was 16, and would go to different auditions. The first thing I booked was a Nintendo Wii commercial. In the audition the casting director saw the way I moved and asked if I was a dancer. I must’ve had some kind of poise.
How did you hear about Bunheads? Last September my mom saw a casting call for dancers and called my agent, who had already booked me for the audition. Two weeks later I auditioned and got a callback!
What was the audition process like? I had to come in and read for [director] Amy Sherman-Palladino, and then again with Emma [Dumont], who plays Melanie on the show. I had to audition for both acting and dancing. They made us dance in a small conference room, and I asked if I could mark the spacing beforehand. We were supposed to do a one-minute dance to see what jumps and tricks we could do, so I did the first-act Kitri variation from Don Quixote.
What’s a typical day like? We have to get on set early to give ourselves a warm up, then we spend time rehearsing what we’ll be dancing that day. Then we go into hair and makeup and start filming. They have to film from all angles, so we’ll do a dance 50 times by the end of the day. If it’s a combination, we’ll do it 15-16 times. They have to make sure they get close-ups of the feet, then the whole body, and then the whole class. Sometimes at the end we’ll mark it so they can film audience reactions.
What’s it like being on set with dancers? I love the dance days! If there’s a shot of us stretching or doing tendus in class, they’ll bring in girls from the local studio. It’s like being with a family; we’ll all sit around watching dance videos on YouTube. There’s a real sense of community.
Any similarities between you and Boo? Too many! When I was 15, Boo and I were the same person. I think I was a bit crazier and outgoing, but Boo has her moments. We’re the same; it’s like reliving my past. We have the same struggles with weight and injuries, but it’s good because I can look at them through different eyes now. I love being able to relive a time when ballet was everything to me. Now I have other passions, but I’m rediscovering those feelings.
What advice would you give young bunheads? Everyone has strengths and everyone has weaknesses—focus on your strengths and what makes you happy! Anyone can dance; if you love it, people will watch. Telling the story, emoting to the music, and connecting with your partner are the things that matter. Everyone has a role and you don’t need to have the best feet or the best extension to be beautiful.
When you’re not being Boo, what do you do? I love to go to the gym. I’m getting back into regular dance classes. I like experimenting with fashion. I’m still a teenager at heart. I’m always at the beach, but that’s the California girl in me.
Catch Bunheads on ABC Family on Mondays at 9:00PM EST.