“That’s the goal: To really have your expression manifest itself in your movement” –Isabella Boylston
Isabella Boylston began dancing at three and fell in love with ballet at eleven. At that age, her lessons featured live piano music and the opportunity to improvise with silk scarves at the end of class– both out-of-the-ordinary experiences for most ballet classes. Boylston went on to train at Colorado Ballet and the Harid Conservatory in Florida. In 2001, she won the gold medal at the Youth America Grand Prix.
At age 17, she attended the American Ballet Theatre’s summer intensive and was asked to join ABT’s studio company. However, her parents wanted her to complete her education first. Boylston said, “We got into a big fight because I wanted to come to New York and they wanted me to finish high school. Eventually we compromised and I got to come halfway through my senior year and I finished high school through correspondence.”
She found the transition from school to company a little jarring a first. In the studio company, she had to learn choreography much faster than she did in school. When she moved up to ABT’s main company, her struggle was to fit into the corps rather than stand out as an individual dancer. But, she rose to the occasion and was promoted to soloist in 2011 and principal dancer in 2014.
Boylston has danced many famous roles from the classical repertoire including Odette/Odile, but her favorite character is Giselle. She explains, “I really relate to Giselle. She’s impulsive and I feel like she’s more like my younger self than me now. I’ve experienced betrayal and it can be quite devastating, but it didn’t kill me. I think in the first act she’s really really lively and vital, experiencing life to the maximum. She opens herself up completely and that makes it all the more tragic when everything comes crashing down.” Boylston believes in ballet’s power to convey complex emotions and its relevancy. She says, “Ballet is such a unique art form. You can say things through dance that you could never express in words, and ballet has the ability to touch people on a deep, abstract level. In some ways, ballet is more valuable now than ever.”
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