Meet Lauren Fadeley Veyette, Kansas City Ballet School‘s new Academy Principal and Youth American Grand Prix (YAGP) Coordinator. Lauren joined the Academy just in time for the 2021-2022 school year. She’s had an incredible career and brings so much knowledge and experience to the table.
How did you get interested in dance?
When I was 2, I saw a performance of The Nutcracker and was totally enthralled. My local studio didn’t start ballet lessons until age 4, so for two years I danced around the house pretending to be a ballerina in The Nutcracker until I was old enough for actual classes.
Tell us a bit about your career and how you got into teaching dance.
My career as a professional dancer wasn’t the norm, but all my choices led me to have the most fulfilling experiences and brought me to where I am today. I was asked to join the New York City Ballet when I was just 16. After two years, it was clear to me that it was a little too much, too soon. After an injury and complete burnout, I decided to leave and go to college at Indiana University. It was there that I first taught classes in creative movement and pre-ballet, and that ignited my interest in teaching and reinspired me as a dancer. After graduation, I joined the Pennsylvania Ballet, where I danced for nine seasons and rose through the ranks to Principal. During that time, I taught at the School of the Pennsylvania Ballet, as well as summer programs and master classes throughout the country. The past five years I spent dancing with the Miami City Ballet, while at the same time running Veyette Virtual Ballet School—an online ballet school specializing in private lessons and mentorship, that my husband and I started well before the pandemic.
What do you enjoy about teaching?
What I enjoy about teaching is being able to pass on this beautiful art form to the next generation, while helping them find their voice. Ballet is so personal, and I love seeing students come into their own and grow not just technicians, but also as artists and humans.
What do you find challenging?
Sometimes navigating a room can be difficult. Everyone has different levels of energy, focus, pain tolerance, patience, etc., and it’s finding the balance between them all.
You have been tapped to lead the Youth American Grand Prix (YAGP) program here at KCBS. What experience do you have with YAGP and what are your goals for KCBS in competing?
I actually competed the very first year that YAGP took place. My mom saw an ad for it in Dance Magazine. I went as an independent in the junior division. I didn’t know anyone there. I just tried my best and somehow left with the regional Grand Prix title. I’m really looking forward to being on the other side now; helping our students with this yearly competition. My goals are for the students to be challenged, while also feeling calm and confident. I want them to become stronger, both physically and mentally throughout the process, and feel prepared so that they can go out there and just enjoy their moment.
What is the most important thing you want your students to learn?
I want them to learn hard work and discipline, but at the same time to remember what a special gift it is to be a dancer. On their toughest days, I want them to reflect on why they started dancing in the first place, and to be able to share that joy with those around them. So often as a dancer you get caught up in casting, ranks or physical exhaustion, and you forget to enjoy the beauty of ballet.
Where do you find inspiration?
I definitely find inspiration from my students. So often I come in with an idea for how I will structure a class, and it gets thrown out the window because of something I see from them that inspires me in a new direction. Also, my 15-month old daughter brings a lot of inspiration to me with her freedom of movement, curiosity and fearlessness.
How do you set goals and measure success for yourself and for your students?
There are day-to-day goals and long-term measures of success for both myself and my students. Daily, it’s getting someone to understand a correction, or stay on the music, or even do another turn. But the true successes come when those things become second nature and just a part of the new dancer they have become.
Is there anything else you’d like to share about your life, your interests, your motivation, or your plans for the future?
My husband, Francis, and I met while dancing together in Pennsylvania Ballet. He is teaching for KCBS in the evening program. We have a daughter named Lucy, who I performed with while pregnant, and she is obsessed with dancing and music. We all really enjoy living here in KC and are so grateful to everyone for the warm welcome! It’s an honor to be part of KCB.
Photo Credit: Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios