Beginning to take dance classes at only 3 years old has paid off for Kansas City Ballet School student, Emma Heithoff. After attending dance schools in Waukee and Des Moines, Iowa, Emma was able to begin training in the Academy’s Daytime Program. This program offers daily classes from 9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. and is for ballet students who are looking for more hours of intensive training as compared to those offered in the afternoon program.
After attending the 2015 and 2016 Summer Intensive programs, Emma was thrilled to return to the Kansas City Ballet. “While I didn’t believe my experience could possibly get better, this past summer provided even more opportunity by allowing me to hear about the Daytime Program,” she said. “I believe this summer program is extremely appealing with its emphasis on strong technique, expression through the upper body, and versatility as a dancer with the plethora of classes offered.” One of Emma’s major influences was her summer teacher, Racheal Nye. “I really enjoy how she brings the idea of how strong technique should always be a priority while teaching in a tough yet extremely motivating way,” she said.
Since joining the Daytime Program with the Kansas City Ballet, Emma has already identified significant benefits. “I have loved the opportunity to have two-hour technique classes followed by one-hour pointe classes and other electives every single day,” she said. “This gives each of us the ability to improve at a faster rate than we were previously with the addition of more hours spent in the studio.”
Throughout the course of a new program, struggles are bound to occur. “I have definitely experienced a number of challenges including some issues with my back and feet while also learning how to manage injuries while dancing for so many hours,” Emma said. “Even with a higher pain tolerance after dancing since I was young, I have learned many different self-care practices in both injury prevention and taking care of myself in order to stay healthy and continue doing what I love.”
“I have also faced the challenges of continuing to fix bad habits while trying not to become frustrated when I do not see immediate progress,” she said. As these endeavors have not been easy for Emma, she has learned they can be rewarding. “Throughout working through these challenges, I feel as if I have developed some valuable skills to help me through both my dancing and events outside of the studio.”
Since joining the Academy’s Daytime Program, Emma has been offered many exciting opportunities. These include performing with the professional company as an Angel in The Nutcracker, as a Courtier and a member of the “Garland Waltz” in The Sleeping Beauty, and a significant role in the Kansas City Youth Ballet’s performance of Giselle. “This past semester, I had the opportunity to perform the Peasant Pas de Deux in Giselle as well as a neoclassical pas in a work choreographed by Dillon Malinski,” she said. “I have never been cast in a performing pas de deux before this year, so this was an extremely fun opportunity to work on my partnering in two completely different pieces of repertoire.”
Photography by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.