BalletMet Dance Academy’s Trainee Program is also commonly referred to as our pre-professional program. Its goal: to prepare dancers for a long career at a professional company.
For Sara Warren, that’s exactly what it did. She’ll be joining Charlotte Ballet as an apprentice this fall.
The 19-year-old, who’s originally from Fort Worth, Texas, came to us last summer for our Summer Intensive, and she was quickly encouraged to stick around as a trainee. She and her twin sister, Clarissa, both stayed on throughout the year, performing alongside the professional company in The Nutcracker and Sleeping Beauty.
Warren will perform for the last time as a BalletMet trainee this weekend in our academy’s annual Spring Performance, June 3-4 at the Capitol Theatre. The show features more than 300 dancers from our academy, including all 26 of our trainees.
We sat down with her for an “exit interview” of sorts.
Congratulations on Charlotte Ballet!
Did you do quite a few auditions?
Yes. Like three every weekend. Pittsburgh, Chicago, Virginia, Washington, Kansas, Nashville, etc.
What was it like when you found out about your contract?
I went to check my email in between a Sleeping Beauty rehearsal on a five-minute break, and it said, “Congratulations!” I ran out of the studio, and I found Clarissa and said, “I got it!” It was really exciting.
So what made you want to do a trainee program in the first place?
I felt like it was a good lead into professional life. You still get to work with a professional company, but you get training at the same time. You’re getting stronger through it.
Where and when did you begin your training?
Texas Ballet Theatre School. I was there for eight years. I was 9 when I first started dancing.
So what made you want to turn it into a career?
Actually, I didn’t like dancing. I did it because my younger sisters were doing it. I didn’t start liking it until I was 15 years old. I was just doing it for the friends. But then my teacher did this really fun neoclassical piece, and I just thought this is fun. Let’s do this.
What brought you to BalletMet?
Actually, my friend told me about BalletMet. She pushed me to audition, and I thought hey that was actually fun. It was like a very personal class. Then I got an email back of acceptance. I came up for the summer and got a traineeship.
What drew you to our Trainee Program?
Coming here and having the diversity of teachers and dancing and new people, new faces was really nice. And working with the company was absolutely amazing. It was awesome being able to be on stage with them and dance. I did Nutcracker and Sleeping Beauty, and I got to understudy Who Cares? with them. It was awesome.
With your parents back in Texas, where did you live throughout the past year?
I’m in Gahanna right behind Easton. Easton is a ton of fun. My sister and I room together with my roommate from over the summer, Emily Lovdahl. We stay in a townhouse, and we have movie nights, we have a pool. At the beginning of the year, all of the trainees went apple picking at Lynd Fruit Farm.
What were your first impressions of Columbus?
Initially, I was confused about what type of city Columbus would be. But it’s a pretty big city. There’s a lot to do here. I really like it. I’m going to miss being here next year.
What’s a typical day like for a trainee?
It fluctuates. The most consistent days are Tuesday and Thursday. We start at 9 a.m. But all the days are pretty different. It’s 30 to 40 hours a week. And on Tuesdays and Thursdays we have two ballet classes. It took a lot of getting used to because my body wasn’t used to doing two ballet classes a day. It really strengthens you. You get better faster.
What are you looking forward to performing in the Spring Performance?
I’m looking forward to Tim’s piece. It starts off with an adagio section and then a pas, and it’s me and another guy doing it. I get to do that, and then it goes into a longer fast piece.
What’s been your biggest challenge this year?
Self-confidence, which I’ve gotten a lot better at this year. Proving myself, especially with getting the option to work with the company. When Susan [Dromisky, ballet mistress] would come and consider who was going to be in The Nutcracker, that was hard for me—being confident enough to go in front and try my best. It’s a lot of pressure.
What advice would you give a future trainee?
Be open-minded. Don’t be negative, and enjoy what you have here. Other places don’t give you opportunities like you get here.