In her fourth year of dancing at KCBS, Chrisanne Ayers was given the opportunity to help pioneer the Academy’s Daytime Program for serious ballet students who were looking for more intensive training than afternoon programs can offer. “I wanted to join the daytime program primarily because I knew the training was going to be more intense and I wanted to have the extra hours in the studio to train,” Chrisanne said. “The thought of being at the studio all day just like the professionals was also so amazing and exciting.”
Kansas City Ballet School’s Daytime Program for levels 4-8 flips the script on traditional dance training. With this new program, students spend most of their days Monday through Friday (approx. 20-25 hours) taking dance classes designed to help them grow as a dancer, develop stamina, and feed their passion. These students tend to their academics through online or homeschool programs in the evenings and on weekends.
As part of this inaugural group, Chrisanne already has identified some benefits. “I feel like I have been able to improve faster than if I was only dancing for a couple hours in the evening. The daytime program has definitely helped improve my stamina and it has taught me how to manage my time more efficiently. Another benefit of the day program is that it really helps you to refine your vision for the future, whether or not you want to pursue ballet professionally,” she said. “For me, it helped to confirm that this is what I love and want to do, but I am sure for some others dancing all day might help them realize that, while they love it, they don’t want to do it professionally.”
Naturally there are also challenges with trying something new. “One of the biggest was probably figuring out how and when to fit school into this already very busy schedule,” Chrisanne said. “I simply took it day by day and figured out a routine that worked for me and stuck with it. There have been challenges with everyone getting along as well. When you’re with the same group of people all day almost every day of the week a certain amount of conflict is inevitable. However, we are all extremely close and no matter the what we have always been able to work it out.”
In the end, the highest form of praise for the new program comes in the form of endorsement from the students themselves. “I would recommend this program to anyone who is passionate about ballet and serious about pursuing it as a career,” Chrisanne said. “It is a lot of hours. It’s hard and exhausting, but if ballet is your love, it is the best thing in the world.”
Her training is paying off in a big way. Last weekend, Chrisanne competed along with 30 other KCBS students at a Youth American Grand Prix (YAGP) regional semi-finals competition in Indianapolis. She placed in the Top 12 Contemporary Dancers out of more than 100 senior competitors.
Photography by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.