LINES Ballet Training Program: Our graduating dancers reflect

This weekend the LINES Ballet Training Program performs in their Spring Showcase 2017 at Dance Mission Theater. For the 2nd year students and international dancers, this will be their final performance with the program. We reached out to several of our student artists to ask them to reflect on their time in LBTP and on their upcoming performances. Read on for more and join us May 25-27.


Jessica Eckardt

How would you describe your experience in the Training Program?

I have learned more in these past 2 years than I have anywhere else. I am writing this with 3 journals open in front of me full of notes, corrections, advice, etc. –  I think that speaks for itself. It would be impossible to recall every single lesson but I would like to share a few of my favorites:

Your love must always be greater than your fear.
Be selflessly selfish.
You are exactly where you need to be.
The only limits you have are the ones you set on yourself.
You have a voice and opinions. Acknowledge and articulate that.
Recognize yourself for who you are rather than what you think you should be.
Embrace struggle.
An interesting person is an interested person therefore dance and live with curiosity.
Know what makes you uniquely you.
Your peers can be your best teachers
And as Alonzo has emphasized: “high hips, high hopes.”

LBTP S17 social square, v1

Khristina Cayetano

How would you describe your experience in the Training Program?

What do you hope to accomplish?
I will continue to work on getting out of my own way so I can create opportunities, live in abundance and experience true joy.

How do you feel about your final show?
I feel excited and expectant.

What does this show mean to you?
The most significant life changes have happened here at LINES. I leave with confidence, purpose and an identity strong enough to bear the weight of all I am created to be.

What have been your biggest challenges and your greatest successes?
At the start of the Training Program in 2015 I had challenges with remaining present. I would emotionally and energetically remove myself from the space to protect myself from harm. What harm? I do not know. It was a subconscious coping mechanism I had cultivated as a child, when my emotions were too much to bear.

My greatest success has been uncovering the root of my inconsistency and training my mind to respond differently in the moments I feel overwhelmed. Still a work-in-progress.

What have you learned from each other?
I have learned consistency, patience, perseverance, how to play, and how to be.


Mazarine Rossert

How would you describe your experience in the Training Program?
In two words… life changing. The LINES Ballet Training Program was not only a program that helped me grow tremendously, but it was also an incredibly healing environment. I arrived hopeful for a fresh start, a taste of something newer than just ballet, and to find people who understood my thought process and how I worked in class. Not only did I find all of these things, but I also found myself embraced into a community eager to support and love one another. Not only did I feel understood, but I also felt as though I shared the same passion for curiosity, discovery, and research through movement as those around me.

Is there any one experience that has stuck out to you in the last two years? If so what?
Choreographing for both the fall and spring semesters this year opened my eyes to the possibilities of engaging in dance through a different perspective than that of simply “the dancer”. On the very first day, in the very first class, on the very first exercise (plié), I remember moving to extremes I’d never really done in a plié exercise before. After just this exercise alone, I knew I was in for the experience of a lifetime.

What have you learned from each other?

During my time at LINES, I discovered what it is to get to know someone without the use of language, but through movement.

I made some incredibly close friends, and most of those friendships were initiated through movement. We jumped into classes, and during the first week, I found myself dancing alongside my new classmates and immediately connecting to them.

A particularly strong memory from my time at LINES was with one of my very dear friends in an improvisation class. The wonderful Christian Burns was leading the class. We were guided towards finding individuals in the room to explore movement with, and I found myself improvising with this friend (Elodi) who at the time I had only spoken to a few times. We found ourselves completely lost in our mutual research, engulfed in each others’ curiosity about where this moment may take us. 45 minutes later, our incredible friendship had begun, without a single word spoken.

2016 Training Program Fall Showcase-405

Alex Schmidt

How would you describe your experience in the Training Program?

The Training Program at LINES has been completely life-changing for me. Emerging from these two years I am physically, mentally, and spiritually a different person than when I started. Any boundaries or “expectations” I had initially set or hindered myself with have been completely blown out of the way thanks to every experience I have encountered here.

This program has shown me how much I truly love my craft, and what it means to be open, genuine, honest, available, vulnerable, uncomfortable, generous, giving, thoughtful, present, and more.

I do not think I truly knew how much I craved dance and needed it in my life before coming. This program has sparked richness and curiosity inside of me; a knowingness that there is always more to discover continues to drive and fascinate me.

What are you looking forward to upon completing the program? And what do you hope to accomplish?
Leaving this program is so bittersweet; these two years have flown by! I look forward to seeing what my future holds in both dance and in my general life. I am joyous to see what amazing things my peers will accomplish too. I do not think I can simply state what I hope to accomplish upon completing my two years at LINES – I think I have already accomplished much more than I thought I was personally capable of. I am excited to learn, investigate, create, experience more, and continue to stay intrigued and enthusiastic about my art.

Is there any one experience that has stuck out to you in the last two years? If so what?
A few moments have stuck out to me upon reflecting on these past two years. Choreographing for the first time on four brilliant artists was a more than fulfilling experience. Watching my friends experience breakthroughs in our week in the studio with Alonzo specifically was so inspiring to witness first-hand. Performing at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts with my 2nd year peers and the BFA senior class was such a treat as well. The space brought out a whole different way that we danced our pieces and the sense of community created between our classes was a moment to be cherished.

How do you feel about your final show?
I am beyond excited to perform with my class and program again. But I’m also extremely sad knowing it will be the last time all of us share the stage together. The show means a lot to me, and I can’t wait to perform with some of my favorite people!

What have been your biggest challenges, and greatest successes?
I think my biggest challenge was getting out of my head, and learning that being uncomfortable is okay, and actually enhancing. Coming from an all ballet, very classical school prior to the Training Program, I was ingrained on what was “right” or “wrong” in dance. It took me a while to realize “rights” and “wrongs” were limiting in terms of where my dancing could take me, and making that discovery (and continuing to research it) has brought out a genuine joy for dance that I feel I had been simply glazing over in the past.

I think my greatest success over the past two years was a realization that I discovered – that I have the ability to inspire myself. Finding that out for myself has allowed me to love more and truly be able to get lost in what I am doing. That sense of freedom has been a huge breakthrough for how I approach dance, from taking class, to performing, etc.

Also, as I mentioned earlier, choreographing for the first time was also a big success of mine during the program. Choreographing was always something I was interested in trying but had always been timid and scared about it. Now after the process, I am excited to choreograph again in the future.

What have you learned from each other?
I have learned so much from every single one of my peers. Everyone has something so beautiful, and raw – a uniqueness about them. Watching that radiate through their bodies and grow as the year has progressed has been motivating and inspiring.

I have learned trust, and commitment, and unity, and I am eternally grateful to have been able to share my past two years with such brilliant humans.

LBTP S17 social square, v2

Sorna Condevaux Ndoye

How would you describe your experience in the Training Program?
My experience in the Training Program was more than training to become a professional dancer. It was a spiritual journey. As dancer, I learned how to find truth in movements that were coming from my soul. As a human, I learned how to control my thoughts, keep my eyes open and express my opinions.

What are you looking forward to upon completing the program? And what do you hope to accomplish?
If there is one thing that I would love to do after the Training Program, it would be to share what I learned with other dancers and guide them to see the world differently. I would like to show them that inside of the “technical dancer” there is a human with a soul who can be so much more impressive by being present than being a robot who simply executes technique. I would also like to share with them how to find their own artistry as I have learned during my time in the Training Program.

Is there any one experience that has stuck out to you in the last two years? If so what?
I was injured this year during a few months and was not able to dance fully. I was frustrated but I had to learn how to keep listening to the power of my will and that everything I imagined could be real. If I want to do it, then I can do it.

How do you feel about your final show? What does this show mean to you?
We have our last show this week and I feel really excited to dance one last time with the LBTP students. This show is my “goodbye but see you soon” before I return to Paris.

What have been your biggest challenges, and greatest successes?
One of my biggest challenges was to remain honest with my work and my way of thinking, in order to be the best that I can be. And also to take each day as a new beginning. By doing this, I learned who I am and what I want – this is my greatest success.

What have you learned from each other?
The students of LBTP are like a family from all around the world. We learned how to live, support and love each other.

LBTP_000316 Francesca Butler

Gabby Lohse

My life has been forever changed by this Training Program. The memories I’ve shared here have formed the cornerstones for my future. A future of curiosity, discovery, wonder, excitement, determination, and every other inspiring notion cultivated here at the LINES Ballet Training Program. The atmosphere that flows through these hallways is truly infectious; it hits you as soon as you pull the first barre out before every morning ballet class and stays with you until the curtain closes on your final show.

A feeling like this, of course, is nothing without the people that create it, and I feel truly honored to be amongst some of those people. The faculty and teachers here have pushed me to reach new limits within myself that I could have never even guessed were possible.

This kind of exceptional growth only comes from the immense care and precision put into the training here.

Being able to experience and absorb such influential training has changed and will continue to change the way that I approach dance – it is something I will take with me for the rest of my life. It is a challenge to attempt summing up my experience here, because I believe that one of the best things about this program is that its effects are never-ending and constantly evolving. I may leave this program in just one short week, but every day that I’m here feels like a brand new exciting beginning. I can’t wait to face every new beginning after I leave and start on my next adventure.

One of the most beautiful things that this program instills in you is an excitement and curiosity while facing the unknown. I used to fear it. I used to live in the past. But with every day I feel more and more present in my reality, and even more ready to embed myself in whatever the future may hold. Because of this, I’m happy to say that what I’m most excited for after this program is genuinely being excited for whatever is going to happen after this program. I don’t know what that is yet, but I want to find out. I can’t wait to live my life without being afraid of my future, without being afraid of the unknown. I think this proves even further the magical effects that this program has on one’s perception of life.

The experiences that have stuck with me the most are not so much specific moments but general feelings. In this case, feelings of friendship. The relationships that I’ve made here will stay with me for the rest of my life and I believe they will grow even stronger in the future. I’ve never felt a sense of trust like I do with my second year class. We’ve grown up together, and we’ve grown into a family.

Dance has a magical effect on people, it brings them together unlike anything I’ve ever felt before.


Klint Mihali

How would you describe your experience in the Training Program?
Beyond the unexpected, life-changing, definitely intense.

What are you looking forward to upon completing the program? And what do you hope to accomplish?
I’m looking forward to continuing to cultivate and increase my hunger for dance. I’m looking forward to do, see, feel, live, experience, and explore as much as I can. Now that I have different eyes and knowledge, I’m going to make the “best that I can do” even better. There’s always something to finesse. I’m just looking forward to dancing, and appreciating even more the privilege that I’m fully living as a dancer! I’m hoping to accomplish the goal of being the best dancer I can possibly be, to make a change in this universe, daily, in my “little garden”, that’s why I cultivate dance! Eventually I would love  to become a choreographer and create more art!

Is there any one experience that has stuck out to you in the last two years? If so what?
Honestly every single class has been what I needed. You receive so much information everyday! It’s impossible to pick and choose, everything is so challenging and valuable. Something I will never ever forget are our weeks with Alonzo in the studio. Every single thing he said was so full of truth. I remember everybody was taking notes so quickly and trying to not miss a single inspiring word! It was a grace and a blessing. And I’m so thankful for the experience.

How do you feel about your final show? What does this show mean to you?
My final show means artistic growth to me and most of all a process of sharing. As Karah Abiog (Training Program Director and surrogate mother to us all) often says, “There’s nothing to prove and everything to share”.

What have been your biggest challenges, and greatest successes?
My biggest challenge has been definitely our week with Alonzo. It involved allowing myself to let go, not overthink it and be the most authentic & perseverant dancer that I could be. Breaking habits and not resisting. I definitely learned to make choices, be brave, consistent and not have fear.

To dance from my stomach, my heart, my guts, my mind and spirit. Not from my bones, but from every single cell that’s both in and around me.

My body is a full orchestra. I learned to pay close attention to every detail, and that’s what changed my approach to dance completely. I gained specificity, clarity and most of all, will power!

What have you learned from each other?
What we have learned the most from each other to be inspired by one another! Beginning with our daily classes in the morning! We have learned to have a positive energy as one united front. We have learned to be devoted and help each other, and be a family outside of the studio.

LBTP S17 social square, graphic


Thursday, May 25 (special performance with student/alumni work)
Friday, May 26
Saturday, May 27

Featuring new works by Kara Davis, Gregory Dawson, David Harvey, Maurya Kerr, Laura O’Malley, Erik Wagner as well as guest artist Shannon Gillen of Vim Vigor.

Photos courtesy of Steve Disenhof, Jason Lam and LBTP students