Magazine article Pointe

A Day to Remember

Magazine article Pointe

A Day to Remember

Article excerpt

Michelle Carpenter rehearses her "Black Swan" variation in the studio at Ballet Magnificat! just a few hours before Round III of the 2002 USA-IBC. When the class in the studio next door let out, Carpenter suddenly had a discerning audience. Her focus did not waver.

Keeping up with junior competitor Michelle Carpenter, a 17-year-old apprentice with Houston Ballet on the day of her Round III performances at the USA International Ballet Competition in Jackson, MS this past June was not so easy. Carpenter and the rest of the clan from Houston Ballet (her noncompeting partner Nicholas Leschke, senior partners Ian Casady and Sara Webb, coach and choreographer Timothy O'Keefe and pianist Katherine Burkwall-Ciscon) had a nonstop schedule on the last day of the competition's third and final round.

With two rounds behind her, Carpenter had been in Jackson for 14 days and was one of only nine junior female competitors left. Round III took place over three evenings and featured 34 competitors.

The day began as usual with a meal of cereal and fruit and the task of sewing pointe shoes. At noon, the group from Houston crammed into a rental car and sped off to Ballet Magnificat!, where they opted to do a private class taught by their coach instead of taking the class offered by the USA-BC. After an hour of barre and some center, O'Keefe worked first with the senior couple, then with Carpenter and Leschke. While one couple marked through their pas de deux the others practiced in the corner. The already muggy air was thick with anticipation as well as the feeling that there wasn't quite enough time to go over everything.

After rehearsal, there was only time for a quick jaunt back to the dorm at Belhaven College, where the competitors were housed, to get down a bit of nourishment, grab makeup cases and costumes and head to the theater.

For Carpenter, "Black Swan" was up first. She was the only junior competitor to give it a try. …

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