For the students at the Ballet Royale Institute of Maryland, dance is a serious sport. Just as a high school quarterback would practice long hours for a chance to play on the same field as Peyton Manning, select dancers at the institute have dedicated many hours to preparing for the Bravo! gala, where they will dance alongside professional ballet dancers.
Students in the institute's Enrichment Program, which is for gifted and talented dancers, made the cut. This audition-only program is for students who plan to pursue any kind of dance career.
For these young dancers, it is an honor to share the stage with celebrated dancers from the American Ballet Theatre -- principals Maxim Beloserkovsky and Irina Dvorovenko and soloists Stella Abrera and Sascha Radetsky. More than two dozen Enrichment Program students ages 9 to 21 will join these four professional dancers to perform classical and neoclassical pieces from Giselle, Le Corsaire, Paquita, Le Spectra de la Rose and Carmen.
Donna Pidel, founder of the institute, says, "If you want to prepare yourself for a professional career as a dancer, you should really observe the way that professional dancers move and conduct themselves." Bravo! does that by allowing younger dancers to see professionals at work.
For Vivian Steyert, a 14-year-old who has been dancing since she was 3, the professional dancers aren't the only ones to revere. As one of the younger girls in the show, she says, "I have the older girls to look up to, too."
The students added an extra hour to their practice schedules in preparation for this performance. The result is well worth the effort though, because, as Steyert says, "The most memorable part is dancing with people that are internationally renowned."
"Bravo!" is at 7 p.m. Saturday at the James Rouse Theatre for Performing Arts, 5460 Trumpeter Road in Columbia. Tickets are $45-$55. Reserve tickets by calling the Ballet Royale Institute of Maryland at 410-997-8443 or by visiting the studio, 9147-D Red Branch Road in Columbia.