A Look Back at SAB’s 2021 New York Junior Session

School of American Ballet, Juniors Summer Program, girls ballet class, tendu front at the barre
Ballet class with faculty member Adam Hendrickson at our New York Junior session. Photo by Erin Baiano

What happens when 120 dancers between the ages of 10 and 12 descend on our studios at Lincoln Center for a week of ballet classes, seminars, workshops and fun? We call it our New York Junior Session and this year was especially memorable. As the first of SAB’s three summer programs, the New York Junior Session kicked off our in-person training this summer – something we haven’t been able to offer since 2019.

The New York Junior Session is designed as an introduction to SAB’s curriculum, programs and faculty for serious young ballet students. The week-long program is the perfect opportunity for students to get acclimated to the School and the Balanchine style within SAB’s state-of-the-art facilities on Lincoln Center’s pristine campus. Students take daily classes with SAB’s permanent faculty and guest teachers, including principal dancers from New York City Ballet, while also enjoying cultural enrichment programs and wellness seminars to further broaden their exposure to the arts.

Faculty member Aesha Ash working with New York Junior students. Photo by Erin Baiano
Faculty member Aesha Ash working with New York Junior students. Photo by Erin Baiano

After holding last year’s session entirely on Zoom, it was delightfully refreshing to welcome all these energetic youngsters back into our studios this year, albeit with a few adjustments to ensure the safety of all our students, faculty, and staff.

“We had to reimagine our New York Junior Session this year to uphold SAB’s COVID-19 safety protocols. This included smaller class sizes to allow for social distancing and mask-wearing,” explained Ellen Duddy, SAB’s Manager of Auditions and Outreach, who oversaw much of this year’s programming. The class schedule was also extremely precise to allow for regular studio cleanings and “crowd control” as students moved between studios.

New York Junior Session boys ballet class. Photo by Erin Baiano
New York Junior Session boys ballet class. Photo by Erin Baiano

“Despite these new protocols, which have become a part of our everyday lives,” Ms. Duddy continued, “it was so wonderful to welcome summer students back to our studios to experience SAB and meet fellow dancers from around the country. Many first experienced SAB over Zoom last summer and finally were able to meet some of their 2020 classmates and teachers in person this year.”

In addition to classes in ballet, pointe, character, Pilates, and conditioning, the students were treated to nutrition and wellness seminars, a pointe shoe seminar with faculty member Katrina Killian, a class on ballet history and a tour of the Lincoln Center campus – currently decked out in Mimi Lien’s participatory public art installation “The Green” which our young dancers thoroughly enjoyed!

Students on a tour of the Lincoln Center campus. Photo by Erin Baiano
Students on a tour of the Lincoln Center campus. Photo by Erin Baiano
Character class at New York Junior. Photo by Heather Toner
Character class at New York Junior.
Pilates class at New York Junior. Photo by Erin Baiano

And as a very special highlight of the program, the students also got to attend talkbacks and autograph signings with recent alumni and New York City Ballet dancers including Megan Fairchild, Anthony Huxley, Lauren King, Malorie Lundgren, and Zoe Bliss Magnussen.

NYCB dancer and SAB Faculty member Megan Fairchild signing autographs at our New York Junior Session. Photo by Erin Baiano
NYCB dancer and SAB Faculty member Megan Fairchild signing autographs at our New York Junior Session. Photo by Erin Baiano
NYCB dancer and SAB Faculty member Anthony Huxley talking to students at our New York Junior Session. Photo by Erin Baiano
NYCB dancer and SAB Faculty member Anthony Huxley talking to students at our New York Junior Session. Photo by Erin Baiano
NYCB dancer and SAB Faculty member Lauren King posing for a picture with a student at our New York Junior Session.
NYCB dancer Malorie Lundgren posing for pictures with students at our New York Junior Session.

We also found time to pepper in some social activities for the students, including a zany ballet game show session and a farewell social on the final day of the program. It’s amazing how in just a week’s time our NY Junior Session dancers can grow so much and make so many lasting memories! Scroll through the slide show below for more pictures of this very special program.