15 yr. old Mary and 11 yr. old Sarah Costanza embarked on a summer experience in NYC for 5 ½ weeks to follow their passion and their hearts by training with both the American Ballet Theatre and the Joffrey Ballet School.
Their summer story is one of a supportive sister relationship; a loving, nurturing & mentor centric family structure so vital to the development of students into focused & disciplined young adults & a stand by mother who has the confidence to allow her children to stand on their own without any artificial props.
Mary began dancing at the age three and began auditioning for summer training in 2011 when she was 12. She was first accepted to the University of North Carolina School of the Arts summer comprehensive dance program at the age of 12. That summer she left home and attended the program at UNCSA’s campus for five intense weeks of training in ballet, jazz, contemporary etc. Because Mary is a true “bunhead” at heart, she auditioned the following year for American Ballet Theatre’s summer training intensive. She was subsequently accepted and placed at the North Carolina location for four weeks of training, specifically in ballet. This experience sent her back to UNCSA’s campus. (In 2011, ABT named UNCSA as an affiliate school)
In January of 2014, she auditioned once again for ABT’s summer training program and was placed at the New York location to train in the exact same facilities as our National Ballet Company members. The New York location is most suited to dancers from age 13-22 who have shown proficiency in ballet technique. The purpose for the New York intensive is to give students the true experience of a professional dance environment and to work on refinement of technique to produce true proficient technicians in the art of ballet. The classes are long and grueling. They are very taxing on the body. Out of approximately 7,000 students from all over the world that audition for this elite experience; they only accept about 150 to this location. Since the ABT New York location does not have supervised housing, the Costanza family had to think outside the box and turn the 5 ½ week experience into a family memory by moving to NYC for the duration of the program.
Mother, Dana Costanza, comments, “It was absolutely amazing to stand and watch all of these students leave ABT studios every afternoon after having been there for eight to nine hours a day. They were visibly exhausted at the end of the day only to go back bright and early the next morning to do it all over again”. The presence of such highly motivated young people there for the purpose of creating excellence in their art form created an indelible impression in both young ladies.
Dana continues “In addition to the dancing, I would say that the highlight was being able to see the Bolshoi Ballet from Russia perform Swan Lake. Mary’s favorite of all time is Svetlana Zhakarova. Getting to meet Sveltlana and her counterpart, David Hallberg after the performance was amazing.”
While Mary was working with ABT, 11 year old Sarah Costanza was able to enroll in the Joffrey Ballet School’s summer intensive as well. Sarah spent two weeks dancing and meeting new friends while attending the summer dance intensive for young dancers ages 10 -14. While focusing on a variety of dance genres the Joffrey program provided Sarah with the opportunity to have a lot of fun in a “camp” type setting. She hopes that her experience at Joffrey will pave the way for her to follow in her big sister’s footsteps and one day dance with the ABT summer training program as well.
We’ve spent 5 ½ wonderful weeks in the center of the Universe. We’ve had the privilege of exploring all the nooks and crannies of the city that you normally don’t see as a tourist. This place sucks you in with all of her energy and excitement. I have watched my children thrive here and celebrate the diversity and culture…..the way Art just happens here overnight is both inspiring and thought provoking. New York is a beautiful mess! We will miss spending our days here. I have one in tears….she will probably find her way back.
New York City is an amazing place; truly the place where art goes to thrive.” Both she and father Rich hope that they have provided their children with an opportunity for freedom; for discovery; for choice and passion – without any strings attached.
Photography by Southern Pines’ TUTU ECLECTIK