At the Boston Ballet Pre-Professional Program, Sabrina Appleby ’17 trained for 17 hours a week in ballet in the hopes of eventually dancing professionally with the Boston Ballet. Last year, Appleby gave up her position in the elite program to come to Andover, where she is continues to pursue dance.
“I chose to come to Andover because education is extremely important to me; Andover is an amazing school, and I could not resist the urge to experience life here,” wrote Appleby in an email to The Phillipian.
Appleby is currently taking ballet as a sport, dancing the role of the Snow Queen in the Theatre and Dance Department’s production of “The Nutcracker” and performing with Blue Strut, Andover’s student-run jazz dance group.
“Dancing takes me away from any problems or struggles with my personal life and I love the feeling of performing, being onstage and dancing through music,” said Appleby.
Appleby began dancing at the age of three when her mother signed her up for ballet and jazz dance classes at a local studio. While she enjoyed the classes, it was not until she was around seven years old that she began to dance seriously.
“I switched over from my local studio to the Boston Ballet, and at first I hated it,” Appleby said, “Then, after one year, it clicked for me. After our spring recital, I loved performing. It was the first time that I really recognized how awesome it felt to perform, and from then on I’ve tried to keep going.”
At the age of 12, Appleby was cast alongside two other dancers as Clara, the young lead, in Boston Ballet’s production of “The Nutcracker.” This role allowed her to perform alongside professional ballet dancers.
“Being Clara was an amazing experience. For so long, I have admired those before me who danced the role as Clara, and then it was my turn to be that role model. I was extremely thankful to be immersed in that professional environment,” said Appleby, “Before going on stage, I would get butterflies, but once I was on stage, there wasn’t one nerve in my body. Before I had been cast as Clara, I aspired to be a professional. The role only enhanced this dream.”
In eighth grade, Appleby was selected to be a part of the Boston Ballet’s selective Pre-Professional Program, which involved more rigorous and demanding training than the elementary program in which she had previously participated. Last year, she made the difficult choice between boarding at Andover and continuing in the pre-professional program.
“I knew that either route I chose would result in some regrets,” said Appleby. “Of course, I miss Boston Ballet, but I am still able to dance in the dance program at Andover. In addition, I regularly take classes at Boston Ballet on the weekends and during breaks.”
Other dancers praise Appleby’s focus, motivation and work ethic.
“[Appleby] is an amazing dancer, but I think what sets her apart from everybody else is her perseverance and stage presence,” said Lydia Paris ’17, who dances alongside Appleby in Blue Strut. “If she does not understand something, she is not afraid to ask questions and practice it until she gets it right. She practices outside of rehearsals. Her amazing work ethic results in unbelievable technique, and I am not sure what it is, but your eyes are just drawn to her when she dances.”
Although she chose Andover over continuing in the pre-professional dance program, Appleby still aspires to become a professional dancer. After graduating, she hopes to be accepted into a training program and then continue dancing until she is accepted to a company.
“There are some days when I feel tired and do not look forward to go to ballet class, but once I’m dancing, I start to feel every muscle in my body and begin to move through the music,” said Appleby. “It’s this feeling of working so hard and letting go all at once, and there is nothing like it. Ballet seems like a very rigid art form, and it is, but it also incorporates every part of your body mentally, physically and emotionally… Knowing that I have ballet class motivates me to get through whatever it is I’m doing.”