KC freshman accepted into American Ballet Theatre summer program in New York City

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“The car ride was peaceful as I ensured that the ribbon on my pointe shoes were sewed well using my

needle and thread. I concentrated on my sewing for most of the car ride, looping in and out,” said Asia Phillips, Houston freshman.

Asia Phillips, Houston freshman, had never considered dancing before the age of 13, when her mother strongly encouraged her to audition for the Houston Ballet.

Established in 1955, the Houston Ballet is one of the most prestigious dance companies in the United States.

When Phillips was 12, she lived in East Hampton, New York and was on the swim team at her local city pool.

The following year, Phillips’ family made a move that would change the rest of her life. Her parents decided to move the family to Texas. Along with the move Phillips would finally take up dance.

“I had never taken an interest in dance nor ever wanted to do it, but when I was 13 my aunt thought that I had the body of a dancer and thought that I should try and look into dance,” Phillips said. “And then from there, my mother listened to what my aunt had to say.”

After her aunt, who is a dance teacher, made the comment, Phillips’ mom began searching for auditions at local ballet schools. When she came across the Houston Ballet, she booked her daughter an audition.

“My mother was the one who always encouraged me to do auditions, even if I didn’t want to do it,” Phillips said. “I never wanted to audition for Houston Ballet because I thought the dancers were all better than me, because they trained their whole lives, and I had only been dancing for three months, but they saw the potential.”

Phillips was accepted, but because of her being so new to dance she had to start classes with children younger than she was.

“I had to ignore my ego and just strive for what I wanted to do,” Phillips said. “And I wanted to dance.”

Despite the fact that it was her mother’s idea that she study dance, Phillips now enjoys every aspect of ballet, and it is now her passion.

She appreciates the challenges that ballet brings to the table.

“There’s always something to strive for in ballet,” Phillips said.

Phillips was invited back to the Houston Ballet this year but instead she chose to attend college.

Before coming to KC, Phillips danced anywhere from 20 to 25 hours every week.

Now, she dances only three hours every week.

Her mom informed Phillips that the American Ballet Theatre in New York City was holding auditions for their summer intensive program in Austin and she should try out.

“My mom encouraged me to do this audition for the American Ballet Theatre, but I didn’t want to because I felt like I wasn’t in my best shape,” Phillips said.

She was on her way to the audition in Austin, only a few hours away from her home in Houston, when she started worrying about whether or not this dream of hers would become a reality.

“I was fairly calm until I entered the audition building and was surrounded by other dancers,” Phillips said. “I’m typically not too fazed by the other dancers in an audition, I am always focused, but this year I definitely had to take a moment and regain that focus again.”

Phillips checked in and marked her spot on the floor to start stretching before she was called in for her audition.

She described the audition as a more stressful ballet class.

“After the audition I was happy and relieved. It was like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. I did not run away from this situation,” Phillips said. “I went to the audition despite certain challenges I believe I faced. I am proud that I did not close doors on myself by not going to the audition. I am so tired of me being my own obstacle.”

The American Ballet Theatre is home to Phillips’ favorite dancer, Misty Copeland.

“I never knew of Misty until I was 16. She started dance when she was 13 like me, and now she is a soloist at American Ballet Theatre in New York,” Phillips said.

You would think the considerable time off would take a toll on Phillips’ physique and technique, but Phillips received an email from American Ballet Theatre on Jan. 21 while she was in the TRiO lab here at KC stating that she had been accepted in the summer intensive program.

“I read the news and forwarded the email to my parents and told other family members,” Phillips said.  “My parents were super proud and thought my acceptance spoke volumes to them.”

Phillips plans to get stronger this semester and practice more pointe work before the summer. She also plans to go to the gym a lot more. She will leave on June 2 to begin the summer intensive program at American Ballet Theatre.

At the conclusion of the program a performance will be held to illustrate the improvements made over the course of the summer.