TWSB Overview

With best-in-class ballet masters and instructors, and a curriculum 79 years perfected, The Washington School of Ballet sets a new standard in ballet education. The Washington School of Ballet curriculum includes pre-ballet, boys’ classes, and a leveled program for children through young adulthood, many of whom wish to pursue dance as a career. The school also offers a Professional Training Division, overseen by Xiomara Reyes, that brings together especially talented students from around the world for intensive training under The Washington School of Ballet’s renowned faculty. Both the NW and SE campuses share a syllabus to ensure the same excellence in training at each location and both campuses also offer open adult classes.

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Madison Bruns - Trainee

The Washington School of Ballet’s Professional Training Division (PTD) prepares students for a professional career in ballet. Dancers in the PTD division work closely with senior faculty of the school, learn classical and contemporary repertory, and have multiple performance opportunities, including with The Washington Ballet company. TWB staff recently spoke with Madison Bruns, PTD Trainee dancer, about her experiences in the program and dancing with the company.

Scroll down to read all about it!

Photo by Gian Carlo Perez.

When did you first begin dancing with The Washington School of Ballet? What has your journey been with the program since you joined? 

I first began my training with the Washington School of Ballet in the fall of 2019 where I joined as a PTP A student. In the midst of the pandemic, I was promoted to trainee while continuing to train over zoom. Returning back in person the following season was all the more gratifying experience allowing me to perform on stage in The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, and Giselle in front of a live audience. I have loved every bit of my training with the Washington School of Ballet and working so closely with the company. I am beyond excited to start Sleeping Beauty this spring.

What is your typical daily schedule as a Trainee?

A typical day for a Trainee depends on what productions the company and the school is working on. We start every day with technique class at 9:30 followed by pointe, variations, or pas de deux class. Then we typically have about 2 hours of rep class to work on our upcoming showcases for the school. After our lunch break, we also get other classes later in the day such as contemporary, character, mindfulness, and conditioning. However, if the company is working on a production, sometimes they will cast selected trainees to get the opportunity to learn the repertoire for upcoming performances. When working with the company, we typically end around 6:15, and when we are working on school productions, we end around 5 o’clock.

You have performed frequently in TWB company productions; what are the most valuable moments or lessons you have learned from those experiences? 

While performing and rehearsing alongside the company, I have learned many skills such as picking up choreography quickly and being able to step into many different types of roles. I have learned how the company rehearsals and performances are organized and what is to be expected, giving me a better understanding of what a career as a professional dancer would someday look like. Getting to spend time in rehearsals and on stage with the company is always such an honor, as I admire and feel inspired to learn from them. One of my most valuable and special moments for me was sharing the stage with all of the beautiful women in our one show of Serenade at Wolf Trap. I remember how excited everyone was for this performance and how genuinely grateful we were to be performing this ballet at an outdoor venue with a live orchestra. As this was my first Balanchine performance, it was one I will never forget and will carry with me throughout my career.

Most recently, you performed in Concerto Barocco and Theme and Variations in TWB’s Balanchine! performance. How was it working with Victoria Simon, George Balanchine trust repetiteur? 

Performing in the Balanchine program was such an incredible experience. I loved working with the illustrious Victoria Simon, first back in September for Serenade, and then now for Concert Barocco and Theme and Variations. As someone who didn’t have much experience with Balanchine choreography, it was insightful to have her set these ballets on us. Victoria pays attention to the tiny details and has exceptional knowledge of Balanchine’s style, and has now passed her knowledge down to us. Though this program was challenging for me, this opportunity not only allowed me to learn and grow stronger in my technical skills as a dancer but has helped me become more confident in myself and my own abilities to take on new styles of ballet.

Do you have a dream role you would like to perform?

I would have to say a dream role of mine would either be Aurora in Sleeping Beauty or Myrtha in Giselle. I appreciate that they are both very different characters and I would love to take on the challenge of embodying both of them. Aurora shows a soft and delicate side of ballet while Myrtha is a strong and powerful queen. Being able to perform in Sleeping Beauty this upcoming spring is a dream for me as I’ve been inspired by this Ballet since I was a little girl.

What advice would you share with a dancer who is interested in joining The Washington School of Ballet’s PTD program?

As a student of the PTD program for 4 years, I have developed and grown into the dancer I have always strived to become. Here at the Washington School of Ballet, I am able to push myself every day and learn from our amazing teachers who have made such an impact on me and my career path. Along with living in the beautiful D.C. area, you will build lifelong friendships with those whom you get to share immeasurable memories with. I am so grateful to have been a part of the TWSB and for all the amazing opportunities and lessons I have acquired along the way.

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