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Lydia Morris and dancers in arabesque in ballet class
Lydia Morris and dancers in arabesque in ballet class
Photo by Joshua A. Whitehead
Culture > Entertainment

UMD’s Ballet Company M Members Balance Being Full-Time Students and Passionate

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Maryland chapter.

Pre-professional ballerinas can train hours a day, multiple days a week in high school. Once they get to college, their training completely changes and they have to figure out how to live as a full-time student while following their passion as ballerinas. 

Ballet Company M is the University of Maryland’s only performing ballet company. It has three ballet classes a week that are open to any student and it also has rehearsal after class that is for members only. 

Dancers become members by auditioning at the beginning of each semester. By becoming a member, dancers have the opportunity to perform in the fall and spring semester shows. 

Once a dancer has become an official member, they practice about six hours a week total. While this is a shift from many of their pre-professional experiences of training hours a day for multiple days, they still have to find ways to balance their school life, social life, extracurriculars and their passion for dance.

“Going to ballet is really fun and really stress relieving, and so it’s something that I want to do and something that I prioritize and so I make sure that I have the time for it,” said the company’s co-executive director Emily Leo, a senior bioengineering major. 

While balancing their schoolwork, activities and dance may take some time management skills, the dancers make it work so they can continue doing their passion. Their organization is composed of dancers of all different backgrounds coming together to make one group of students who love dance. 

“Dance can sometimes be a very judgy competitive world, and Ballet Company M is definitely the place for me where I can feel comfortable dancing . . . it’s a very welcoming and comfortable environment,” said Mary Walsh, a sophomore government and politics and history double major.

The fall semester show, The Nutcracker, which was Sunday, Dec. 5, sold out. This is the first fully in-person show since 2019. 

The Nutcracker is a ballet that is performed worldwide during the holiday season. This year’s Ballet Company M’s version of The Nutcracker was performed by an all-woman team of students. The team practiced during and outside rehearsal to try and make up for the two years since performing live on stage. Even while the countdown until The Nutcracker show dwindled, the company made sure to take time outside of rehearsal to not only practice but also bond and get to know each other outside of dance. 

“It’s not about stressing about being the best dancer, getting ready for this big show. It’s more of just having a space where you feel comfortable expressing yourself and where you can get a physical workout and also be able to express your more artistic side,” said Leo. 

Katherine Mahoney is from Olney, Maryland and is studying at University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism. Katherine looks forward to gaining a more in-depth perspective on the field of journalism and hone her journalistic abilities in order to give voice to those who remain without in our ever-connected society.