Ballet Dancers Launch New Mentoring Site

Jerry Hochman

Ten current and former dancers with American Ballet Theatre have banded together to forge a new and intriguing internet venture.  Titled Ballet Mentor, the program is intended to be a resource to connect ballet students, parents, teachers, and others in the ballet community directly – via web communication – with experienced, successful, and well-regarded ballet dancers.  To my knowledge, the news first broke on the Haglund’s Heel blog site – – and was more formally confirmed in several Facebook posts yesterday.

Gillian Murphy in "Swan Lake" Photo Gene Schiavone

Gillian Murphy in “Swan Lake”
Photo Gene Schiavone

The idea apparently was conceived by former ABT dancers Eric Tamm and Luis Ribagorda, and current ABT dancers Sarah Lane and Craig Salstein.  The initial panel of mentors are Lane and Salstein, as well as Gillian Murphy, Cory Stearns, Thomas Forster, Katherine Williams, Nicole Graniero, and Calvin Royal III, and former ABT dancers Jared Matthews and Yuriko Kajiya, now Principal Dancers with the Houston Ballet.  More mentors are anticipated.

As I understand it, the idea is that for a modest subscription fee for time periods varying from a month to a year, the program will provide interested people with ballet-related questions, concerns, and issues, technical or otherwise, with the opportunity, and a mechanism, to obtain advise and mentoring, directly and privately, from professional ballet dancers who’ve been there.

Sarah Lane of American Ballet Theatre and Daniel Camargo of the Stuttgart Ballet in the Pas de Deux from "Diana and Acteon" Photo Siggul/VAM

Sarah Lane of American Ballet Theatre
and Daniel Camargo of the Stuttgart Ballet
in the Pas de Deux from “Diana and Acteon”
Photo Siggul/VAM

For anyone who has tried to join the hordes attempting to communicatewith a professional dancer they’ve admired via social media, or who has attended ballet performances and waited outside a stage door for hours to speak briefly with a star professional dancer, or who’s just dreamed, the site apparently will provide a constructive outlet.  While any new program may have kinks that will be ironed out, this promises to be an exciting (and potential lucrative) development, and one that will likely attract a broad range of interested dancers, would-be dancers, and dance enthusiasts.   I suspect that many dancers are already kicking themselves for not thinking of the idea first.  And who knows – maybe they’ll add mentors to cover other facets of the ballet world – administrators, photographers, …critics.

For those interested in more specific information, the site, titled “Ballet Mentor” is already up: