When Jadyn Bagayas arrived at the first day of International Ballet Workshops (IBW) Winter 2019 Series, she didn’t realise that the next three days would be the beginning of a life-changing adventure that would see her move halfway around the world to follow her dancing dream. Bagayas, a student at Philippa Campbell School of Ballet in Auckland, was the recipient of a full year scholarship to train at Ballet Academy East (BAE) in New York City, awarded by winter 2019 international guest teacher and BAE faculty member Elizabeth Walker.
At every half-yearly series of IBW, students stand to gain not only invaluable learning experiences in different aspects of ballet but also some incredible international opportunities. At the upcoming Summer 2020 “In The Footsteps of Vaganova” series this January, those opportunities include a chance to train at Palucca Dance workshop (Dresden, Germany), Prague Ballet Intensive (Czech Republic), plus $2500 in grants from IBW. For more information, go to www.ibwdance.com.
We recently caught up with Bagayas as she settles into BAE and life in New York City.
Could you tell us a little about your experience at the IBW Winter 2019 workshops?
“The IBW Winter 2019 Workshop was a huge learning experience for me, and I enjoyed every second of it! The workshop lasted three days, and each day we had technique and pointe/variation classes with Elizabeth Walker from Ballet Academy East, as well as body conditioning and coaching with Jane Inglis Keen! Learning Balanchine for the first time was definitely challenging, but a lot of us had never danced in the style before, so we were all learning and working together, which made the experience a lot of fun. Elizabeth was also so helpful and supportive. She not only taught us how to dance in the Balanchine style but also taught us about the history of Balanchine and so much more behind the steps and the style. It was the same with Jane Inglis Keen, who not only taught us so many great exercises to stretch and strengthen our body but always explained the anatomy behind each exercise and why they’re beneficial for our body, which I found very interesting and helpful. I just felt like I learnt so much from the whole experience!”
How did you enjoy working with Elizabeth Walker at the workshops, and what did you learn from her?
“I absolutely love classes with Elizabeth because not only is she such a beautiful dancer and person, but she teaches and explains things in such fun and creative ways! She gives so much detail to her corrections, which I love and helps me understand the step more. She has so much knowledge and passion for dance, especially Balanchine, which is very inspiring.”
What was the scholarship you were awarded, and how did you feel when you found out you were the recipient?
“I was awarded a full year scholarship to train at Ballet Academy East in New York, as well as a $1500 International Travel Grant from International Ballet Workshops. I couldn’t believe it when I found out, but I am so grateful and cannot thank IBW enough for giving me this opportunity! I was actually in a school band practise when I found out, and it was so hard to hold in my excitement until afterward! When my mum called me, I’m pretty sure we were both crying on either side of the phone! It is a dream come true to be living in New York City, training with the most inspiring teachers and dancing with so many passionate young dancers from all around the world!”
What have been some of the highlights of your first month at Ballet Academy East?
“The highlight of my first month here was definitely having the opportunity to work with Lia Cirio, principal dancer of the Boston Ballet. She came in to choreograph a brand new piece on us over the course of two weeks! Working with her was like a dream, as she is such a stunning dancer and person, and her choreography is insane. I’m so excited to dance the piece on stage at the winter performance!”
What does a typical day look like for you at the moment?
“A normal day at BAE consists of one technique class and one pointe class/pas de deux class, but we are also able to do extra technique classes earlier in the day and join in on any lower level classes we want to, which is amazing because I feel like I have so much opportunity to work on my technique with so many different teachers!”
What are some of the differences you have found between training at Ballet Academy East compared to at home in New Zealand?
“There’s a strong focus on Balanchine technique, which is definitely one of the biggest differences. I had never trained in the Balanchine style before, but all the staff and students are very embracing and helpful. The classes are always full of new challenges, which is great because it means I constantly feel like I’m working my body and improving every day. Another big difference is that I’m living totally on my own now, which is scary in some ways, but I love the freedom and independence. I’m also dancing a lot more hours than I did in New Zealand, which means I really have to learn how to take care of my body.”
What are you looking forward to for the rest of the year?
“Definitely all the performance opportunities coming up throughout the year. I think we have about four performances this year, which is amazing for a ballet school! I love that we have so many performance opportunities that open us to many styles of dance and can prepare us for working on stage as a career!”
What are your dreams for the future?
“I hope to continue dancing for as long as possible in any sort of way, but of course, getting into a ballet company is the goal.”
What would your advice be to anyone considering attending an IBW workshop?
“Enjoy yourself! Also, always listen to the teachers, be attentive, and take corrections. You’re going to learn so much! Always be confident, and ask questions so you can really be making the most of this amazing experience and the opportunities that IBW offers.”
IBW brings elite ballet teachers to Australia and New Zealand for workshop tours twice yearly. This summer, Russian-born and Germany-based ballet stars Katherina Markowskaja and Maxim Chashchegorov will join the IBW team too teach students in Sydney, Auckland, Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth. Classes are filling quickly, with some nearly sold out, so don’t delay in booking your place at www.ibwdance.com.
Sydney Group 1: January 4-6, 2020, The Conlan College
Sydney Group 2: January 8-10, 2020, The Conlan College
Auckland: January 13-15, 2020, Wellesley Studios
Brisbane: January 17-19, 2020, Promenade Dance Studio
Melbourne: January 23-25, 2020, Melbourne Academy of the Arts
Perth: January 28-30, 2020, The Perth School of Ballet