In the summer of 2000, I danced for six weeks at The Rock School of Pennsylvania Ballet. I was either in level 3 or 3x, and turned 14 the day I got on the plane- a pretty average age for that level.
About two weeks or so into the program a group of nine, ten, eleven year old freakish prodigies joined the class after finishing the School of American Ballet summer program. They were all Rock School students during the year, and we called them ‘The Rock School Babies’ (sort of like the Balanchine babies, no? Am I being a ballet history nerd again? Sorry, I will control it.)
Christine Shevchenko was one such rockin’ baby. Yah that’s her, the youngest ever winner of the prestigious Princess Grace Award. I am currently teaching a camp for 4-5 year olds called ‘Perfectly Powerful Princesses’ and that’s about as close as I’ll come to the title. i am probably the most graceful of my group though, considering that I have mastered standing on tip-toe and I suck my thumb the least of anyone.
Shevchenko is one of five dancers currently with American Ballet Theatre receiving a promotion, effective August 1rst. See the full list via the excellent BroadwayWorld site here: ABT 2014 promotions.
I remember Christine as quiet but friendly, never boastful even though she was always the star of every class. I even remember one Benjamin Millepied stopping the constant stare at his own perfect feet in the mirror to have her demonstrate the perfection of a simple tendu. (Whether I stopped staring at BM is debatable, as shown here. Leave a ballerina and her crushes alone!)
You know, BM is really an unfortunate monogram…I digress.
Christine is moving from the rank of corps de ballet to soloist. Here is a bit more on her accomplishments: (images via ABT, and Gene Schiavone)
Christine Shevchenko was born in Odessa, Ukraine where she trained in rhythmic gymnastics and ballet at an Olympic school. At the age of eight, she moved to the United States and trained for nine years at Pennsylvania Ballet’s Rock School. In 2003, Shevchenko became the youngest recipient of the Princess Grace Award. Other awards include the Bronze Medal at the USA International Ballet Competition in Jackson, Mississippi, the 2005 Gold Medal and Title of Laureate at the Moscow International Ballet Competition and the 2010 Margaret Moore Dance Award. Shevchenko joined the ABT Studio Company in 2006, the main Company as an apprentice in 2007 and the corps de ballet in 2008. Her repertoire with the Company includes Polyhymnia in Apollo, a Shade in La Bayadère, Milkmaid in The Bright Stream, the Summer Fairy in Frederick Ashton‘s Cinderella, a flower girl in Don Quixote, the Lead Can-Can Dancer in Gaîté Parisienne, Moyna in Giselle, the pas de trois in Swan Lake, Ceres in Sylvia and roles in Birthday Offering, Company B, Duets, Piano Concerto #1, Seven Sonatas and Thirteen Diversions. She created roles in Everything Doesn’t Happen at Once and Private Light.
A big congratulations to Christine and all of the promoted dancers. I recently saw Christine in La Bayadere and Manon and she was wonderful, just as I remember her.
The next time that I went to the Rock’s summer program, it was 2002 and I was oddly in a higher level (probably because I am older. No, definitely, only because I am older). At the outdoor summer concert the Rock puts on in Philly: the Rose Bowl or something like that- she danced the Dream Kitri variation to absolute perfection. Those sissone! I performed too…I sang ‘Take me out to the ballgame’ with two other dancers to kick off the real dancing. And just look at where we are now….
I think that’s her in the yellow leotard. I’m the little round head in the blue, close to my former roommate Adrienne, now a superstar Rockette. Read her interview