Cole studies ballet at Alonzo King’s LINES
Some kids choose to experience time away from home during a week-long, school camping trip, but not Olivia Cole, 13, of Sonoma. No, her big leap away from home was spent in San Francisco at Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet’s pre-professional ballet intensive, a month-long dance program for young students with big dreams.
Each winter, many hopeful dancers spend their spare time auditioning for some of the top dance schools in the country and around the world. Although a grueling and yet exciting process, auditioning in-person for schools like Ballet West, American Ballet Theatre, and Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet is a rite-of-passage for the serious and dedicated student. In January, Cole, who trains locally at Sonoma Ballet Conservatory, carpooled at the last minute to San Francisco for her very first audition experience.
“I wanted to know what it’s like to audition for an amazing company like LINES Ballet,” Cole said.
After two hours spent packed inside a studio with dancers several years older than herself, a breathless yet smiling Cole emerged, declaring she left everything she had on the dance floor. No matter the outcome, she was pleased to have tried her best and mused about auditions she would attend next winter. However, several days later a surprised Cole received an acceptance notice by email from Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet. Shortly thereafter, she received another notice which guaranteed her scholarship money to help pay the costs of such a high-caliber summer dance intensive.
“Since I had only been training at Sonoma Ballet for one year, I never expected an acceptance, much less scholarship money. I only went for the experience,” said Cole.
This summer, an experience is exactly what Cole received in San Francisco. Not only did Cole live dorm-style in the city’s center with 119 other young dancers from around the United States and world, she spent six days each week and up to nine hours each day with her slippered feet upon the studio floors of a highly-esteemed professional ballet school, under the direction of one of the most innovative choreographers and some of the most respected technique instructors San Francisco boasts. Cole spent hours each week in ballet, pointe, pas de deux, which is partnering technique, contemporary, modern, hip hop, and jazz fusion, plus classes for muscle strengthening and injury prevention.
“In my training in Sonoma, I’ve really concentrated on ballet,” Cole explained, “so I thoroughly enjoyed the classes that took me out of my comfort zone and forced me to move and express myself in different ways.”
Returning home to participate in Sonoma Ballet Conservatory’s own Summer Dance Program, Cole knows that her summer experience with Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet not only improved her technique and artistic self-expression, but it helped her feel even more confident and determined that a professional dance career is the right path for her.
“After another year with Ms. Patty (O’Reilly, the artistic director of Sonoma Ballet Conservatory), who knows where I could end up next summer?” said Cole. “This winter, I’m going to shoot for the stars!”
This Saturday, Aug. 6, at 11 a.m., at the Sebastiani Theatre, Cole can be seen on her toes in the cast of Sonoma Ballet Conservatory’s seventh annual Summer Dance Workshop Performance.