Edwards dancer admitted to prestigious program | VailDaily.com

Edwards dancer admitted to prestigious program

Joanne Morgan
Daily Correspondent
Vail, CO Colorado
Special to the Daily/Michelle Hayes

Three years ago, Johanna Hayes danced the role of Clara in Friends of the Dance’s “The Nutcracker.” Who would have guessed that this dancer, who was at that time dreaming of the Sugar Plum Fairy and the Kingdom of Sweets, would now be looking at her dreams within reach?

It hardly seems possible that a town widely known for its highly competitive ski-racing programs is also becoming recognized for developing ballet dancers. Anne Powell’s Vail Valley Academy of Dance opened in Edwards in 1989, and in those 22 years, her faculty has taught thousands of young people in the many disciplines of dance. And the training is high-quality.

Among those who have danced at Powell’s school is Jonathan Wyndham, who is currently dancing professionally in New York and guesting elsewhere. Alison Caspersen is in the training program of Ballet Austin in Texas, and two young women are studying at Walnut Hill School for the Arts in Massachusetts, with dreams of joining professional ballet companies.

Now Hayes, 15-year-old daughter of Michelle and Michael Hayes, of Edwards, is joining those who have taken the step to leave the area to attain an even higher level of training. In January, she will move to New York City to attend the highly regarded Joffrey Ballet School to step up her ballet training and complete high school.

Under the directorship of Powell and Kari Sea, the Vail Youth Ballet Company is a local training organization for advanced dancers. Most of the Company dancers go away in the summer to ballet intensives around the country. They have attended schools in New England, the Kirov in D.C., Ballet West, Ballet Austin and others. Learning about the competition within dance is important and being able to take partnering classes is essential in a female dancer’s education.

‘They are who she is’

Over the years, Hayes attended several summer programs, among them the Joffrey Ballet in Atlanta in 2009. Last winter at the Joffrey’s summer intensive audition in Denver Hayes auditioned for the year-round program and found out in August she was accepted. Hayes also trained with the Joffrey’s Davis Robertson in Telluride last summer and Robertson recommended her for a scholarship. That is quite an honor since only five percent of the dancers at the Joffrey School are on scholarship.

Powell commented that it is Johanna’s “dancing from the heart … from the inside out,” that makes her so special. “She is humble, eager to learn, and kind to her peers and her teachers,” Powell continued. “Johanna’s qualities are not taught. They are who she is.”

This Christmas Hayes is planning for her big move to New York and hanging out with friends.

“I will miss my friends here so much, but by me going away, maybe it opens the door for the other dancers to know it can happen for them too, if it’s what they really want, and to not be afraid to take that step,” she said. “I am proof that if you work hard and hold onto your dreams, amazing things can happen.”

Joanne Morgan taught ballet in the Valley for 28 years and is the secretary of Friends of the Dance.

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