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Department Of Dance

Yan Chen Brings Energy and Expertise to ABT Studio Company Masterclass Hosted by BRAVO! Series

The BRAVO! Professional Performing Arts Series Hosted a Masterclass with American Ballet Theatre Studio Company’s Rehearsal Director for BYU Ballet Students

Yan Chen Teaching Masterclass for BYU Ballet
Photo by Emma Olson/CFAC External Relations

BRAVO! Professional Performing Arts Series invited the American Ballet Theatre Studio Company (ABTSC) to perform the penultimate performance for the 2023-24 BRAVO! season. The ABTSC program is linked to American Ballet Theatre (ABT), which was founded in 1939 and is considered one of the top professional ballet companies in the world. Dancers in ABTSC are between 17-21 years old and can use their experience on the company to prepare them to join ABT as a professional dancer. ABTSC also serves as a platform for new choreography and offers young dancers a chance to tour nationally and internationally. This year’s national tour brought them to Brigham Young University.

The company performed an evening show, which was a mix of classical, neoclassical and contemporary repertoire. Before the show, ABTSC rehearsal director Yan Chen held a masterclass for BYU Theatre Ballet and Theatre Ballet Studio Company students. The class followed a typical ballet technique class structure, including barre and center work, yet Chen’s enthusiasm and energy inspired the dancers in a new way.

“Her energy was contagious!” said Theatre Ballet Studio Company member Annelise Woolley. “I learned that one of the most important qualities of a dancer is dedication to growth. She taught me that all dancing should be exciting.”

For each combination at barre and in center, Chen demonstrated or told the dancers what to do, they performed the movements and then she offered feedback and corrections. “Do you see how much potential you all have?” she said. “That is going to keep growing and growing.”

Both Woolley and Theatre Ballet member Maia McBride commented on how they were able to dance more expansively and with more excitement during Chen’s class. Woolley said, “I felt so tall, strong and capable in the masterclass.” McBride added, “I felt like I was able to dance very expansively because of the combinations, corrections and insights Chen gave. I realized I could jump, turn and find control better than I have before.”

Chen ended the class with one final piece of advice: “How you present yourself in the classroom and your diligent work are the best path to success.”

Many of the students who attended the masterclass also attended the ABTSC performance that evening. Thunderous applause and a standing ovation followed the performance as audience members showed their appreciation for the dancers. I felt that there was a deep intentional meaning behind each piece and it was neat to have an opportunity as an audience member to think about what that meaning was and how it could change me,” McBride said. “I’m grateful for this experience of being inspired by ballet.”