Racheal Nye is a full-time teacher here at Kansas City Ballet School. She is a graduate of the Kirov Academy in Washington D.C., where she attended on full scholarship and studied with Nikolai Morozov, Alla Sizova, and Elena Vinogradova. She then joined Ballet Internationale in Indianapolis and continued training with Irina Kolpakova and Vladien Semenov. In 2000, Racheal joined Nevada Ballet Theatre and was promoted to principal in 2006. Racheal has danced leading roles in Giselle, Swan Lake, Don Quixote, and Cinderella, Balanchine’s Serenade and Who Cares?, as well as ballets by leading contemporary choreographers such as Val Caniparoli and Twyla Tharp. She was a finalist in the 2001 Concours De Luxembourg. As part of a cultural exchange, Racheal performed at the National Theatre in Seoul, Korea, and Lisbon, Portugal. She was the Children’s Ballet Mistress for Nevada Ballet Theater and Ballet Idaho, as well as an Academy faculty member. Racheal has both taught and choreographed for Cirque Du Soleil in Las Vegas which was reviewed in Dancer Magazine. She is a guest teacher for many festivals and schools including Regional Dance America, Muse, and Bossov Ballet Theater. Her students have received top twelve and third place recognition in Youth America Grand Prix, and have received scholarships to international ballet academies. She is Pilates certified and specializes in rehabilitation.
Tell us a little about your career and how you got into teaching dance.
I went to school at the Kirov Academy in Washington, D.C. While I was a graduate student, I had an injury. To recover I took class with the 10- to 12-year-old level. Their teacher, Adrienne Dellas-Thornton, was amazing. She had an intellectual way of approaching technique and asked very thoughtful questions. One day she pulled me aside and told me she believed I had an eye and talent for teaching. She mentored me in teaching the entire year and inspired me to pursue it while dancing professionally. I went on to dance for Ballet Internationale before finding a home at Nevada Ballet Theater, where I was a Principal Dancer and taught for 10 years.
What do you enjoy about teaching?
I love to see a student learn self-responsibility and set high expectations for their achievements. Then when they meet those achievements, their confidence and pride are hard-earned and meaningful. I live and breathe ballet, so I try to express that love to my students.
What do you find challenging?
Sometimes it’s hard to separate my self. I am very invested in the students. Their failures are my failures, their success is my success.
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 brought students to YAGP for several years before moving to KC. What I like about YAGP for our students is that it challenges and motivates them. They are coached in artistic nuance and small details of technique. They learn to be accountable for the corrections they receive. I have seen kids really flourish with one-on-one attention and extra performance opportunities. As they are learning parts from the classical repertoire, they are exposed to some of the history of ballet: choreographers, composers, and libretto. They are also exposed to other talented kids their age from around the country. For me, its the process of preparing that is important, not necessarily the end result.
And, what do you consider successes or strengths from last year’s program?
I saw a huge improvement in all of the students who participated last year. They were also very supportive of one another and represented the school very well on a national level.
What is the process for preparing for YAGP?
We held an audition. Since then the students have been learning classical and contemporary repertoire that they work on from August through March in one-on-one coaching sessions. Then we travel to a semifinal where they will perform and take master classes with leading ballet teachers. If students are chosen to participate in the finals, they travel to NYC where they are part of the top 20% of competitors from around the world and are considered for scholarships and contracts from top schools and companies internationally.
What is the most important thing you want your students to learn?
Personal integrity and hard work will help you be successful in any field including ballet… And to honor the history of ballet before us.
What is your favorite inspirational quote or personal mantra?
I asked my students if I had a quote and they said “too many to choose one.” So I guess I am full of motivational speeches. I think making each day feel important on the road of their training is my biggest mantra.
How do you set goals and measure success for yourself and for your students?
I am constantly setting goals for myself. Goals for the hour, or a week, or month. It helps if I break the year down into benchmarks so that we accomplish what we need to by the end of the year. If you see me in the building, this is usually what I am thinking about.