Published 12:15 am Saturday, August 3, 2013


They have been to Tuscaloosa, to Houston, to Connecticutt, and to New York City.

They have lived in dorms, flown alone, visited historical sites, shopped in famous places.

And they have danced.

Eleven Andalusia Ballet senior company dancers and apprentices traveled to participate in summer intensives this summer.

Twin sisters Hannah and Elizabeth McCalman studied for five weeks at the American Ballet Theatre in New York City. They were in class from 9 until 5 each day.

“We studied ballet and pointe every day,” Hannah said. “And we had a partnering class, which was really, really fun. The guys were amazing.

The McCalmans and their mom lived in an apartment on 28th and Madison.

“We walked through Madison Square every day, so it was really cool,” Hannah said.


Elizabeth said the classes were very helpful, and the teachers gave “really good corrections.”

Their classmates were from California, Texas, Indiana, Missouri, New York and Washington, D.C.

The girls said they loved being able to walk everywhere, and all of the things that were available in the city.

“Being in New York City was just really fun, because there are a lot of options,” Elizabeth said.

In addition to sightseeing, they enjoyed two ABT performances, Sylvia and Sleeping Beauty, and three Broadway plays, Cinderella,

Phantom of the Opera, and Wicked.

Asked if, after the experience, they thought they would like living in a city, they answered enthusiastically and in unison, “yes!”

Back in Alabama, Halle Burkhardt, Gabby Godwin and Megan Langley spent three weeks in ABT’s regional study program in Tuscaloosa.

They lived in dorms on campus at the University of Alabama, and took some of their meals in the University’s food court, which they adored.

“Right when we got there, we were placed with three random girls – a roommate and two suite mates,” Halle said. “Then we took a placement class to determine levels.”

Like their friends in New York, they danced from 9 to 5 daily,

In addition to ballet classes, Megan explained, they attended nutrition lectures and anatomy class. Among the things they learned in anatomy was how to use foot massage to improve their balance.

“They made you do lots and lots of stretching,” Halle added.

Gabby said one factor in her decision to attend the intensive was the fact that the counselors were all dance majors, a field she is considering.

Halle said they also learned how to relax in yoga classes.

Sydney Ward and siblings Jonathan and Catherine Weed were three of only 70 students selected to spentdtwo weeks at Nutmeg Conservatory in Torrington, Conn.

Sydney said the school’s studios were beautiful.

“The walls in two of them are glass and overlook the city,” she said. “They are really focused on details, and the way it was put together was really nice.”

In one of the studios, the walls are printed with the word “details.”

“Because they focus on the little things,” Jonathan said. “The details can make you the best dancer.”

They danced daily from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m.

Catherine said she can see a major difference in their abilities now.

“We are stronger and my turnout is better,” she said. “Anytime you dance all day long nonstop you are stronger.”

The Weeds drove up over a period of two days, stopping in Washington, D.C., and New York City.

“We also saw Yale,” Catherine said. “I loved Litchfield, Conn., because I love the Gilmore Girls and the show’s town was modeled after it.”

Sydney flew to Connecticut and was met by a representative of the school. Her family joined her for the conclusion, and en route to Andalusia stopped in New York City, spent the night in the Jefferson Inn in Richmond, and the Fourth of July at the High Hampton Inn in North Carolina.

Rexanne Butler spent two weeks studying with the Nashville Ballet. Although auditioning was nerve racking, she said she was interested because it would be a good experience.

“It was different ballet than we’re used to,” she said. “It was fun to learn something new.”

Lindsey Stephens studied for three week at the Houston Ballet Academy in Texas. Her schedule demanded that she be up at 6, and in class at 9.

“We started out with basics, technique and pointe, did some modern, and had a barre and matt class.

Partnering, or pas, was her favorite class.

“I had only had a couple of partner classes, and it was really different to get boys your own age to partner you.”

This week, in the final week of the Andalusia Ballet’s Summer Intensive, their bodies were weary, but they were still having fun.

“We never get tired of dancing,” Jonathan said.

Erica Bernstein spent almost the entire summer dancing, attending intensives in Huntsville, Ala., Tampa, Fla., and is currently studying with ABT on the campus of University of California in Irvine.