Taylor Ciampi is the embodiment of what it takes to be a highly successful student at the prestigious Rock School for Dance Education. Her hard work and dedication not only shows in her technique, but in her academics as well. We had the privilege of asking her questions about her student life, as well as competing in the upcoming Prix de Lausanne. Here’s what she had to say!
Where are you from/where did you grow up?
I am from Harford County, Maryland and have lived there my entire life.
When and where did you start your ballet training?
I started my ballet training when I was six years old at a local studio called the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Performing Arts.
How long have you been at The Rock School?
In the summer of 2012, I attended the 6 week summer intensive at The Rock School for Dance Education. That September, I became a full time residential/academic student as a freshman in high school. I have worked hard in my studies over the last 3 years and taken high school classes over the summers so that I will graduate a year early.
Can you take us through a day in the life of a Rock School student?
I wake up at 6:30 and get ready for the day. Around 7:30, I walk over to the school and eat breakfast. From 8:00-10:00, I attend RAPA – Rock School academic program with The Keystone School. After academics, I head to Studio A to warm up for morning class which starts at 10:30. Morning technique class ends at 12:00, and from 12:00 -1:00 I have pointe class. Lunch is held from 1:00-1:30. I have rehearsals during the week, and they start at 1:30 everyday. After rehearsals, I get ready for our afternoon class, which starts at 4:00. Afternoon class ends at 6:00, and then I head to the cafeteria for dinner. After dinner, it’s back to the dorms for a shower, school work, and time with friends. Dorm bed checks are at 10:00 pm. I am usually in bed by 10:30 sharing laughs with my roommate and best friend, Abigail Kurdin.
What have you been doing to prepare for the Prix de Lausanne?
The audition process was difficult. Prix de Lausanne has a very strict medical questionnaire and physical exam that you must pass before you can be considered. We contacted a contemporary choreographer, Kanji Segawa, to choreograph my audition piece. After learning the choreography, Mariaelena Ruiz, assisted with required combinations for the video and Justin Allen, another amazing Rock teacher and choreographer, videoed and prepared my video for review by the Prix de Lausanne Jury.
I rehearse on average five days per week for Prix de Lausanne with my wonderful coach, Mariaelena Ruiz. Mariaelena has been my “Rock” and has supported me every step of the way with the process. She has never doubted me. Prix de Lausanne rehearsals are also mixed with Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP) rehearsals, so my day can be pretty long. I’m also trying to pack (Mom says to pack lightly, but as most dancers and girls know – that is HARD).
What advice do you have for young dancers who have dreams of attending the Rock School?
Continue to work hard and audition! If you go to class every single day and take in every correction that your teacher gives you and maintain it, you will be a better dancer. Also, listen to corrections that OTHER students are receiving. It might be a correction that will benefit you as well. If it is your dream to attend the Rock School, I would definitely audition for the summer intensive. I remember when I was young I had dreams of attending the Rock School. I knew that it was expensive, but my grandfather told me, “You WILL go to the Rock School when you are old enough to be a resident.” When I came here for my first summer, it was one of the best summers ever. The teachers are amazing and they definitely work you! There is so much dancing, you make a lot of new friends, and have lots of fun.
What is your pre-competition ritual?
Before a competition, I warm myself up and give myself a Mariaelena power ballet barre. This helps me prepare for my pieces and helps me focus on what I have to do. Hair and makeup is done early (usually before we leave the hotel room) so that all I have to do before taking the stage is add a few touch-ups. Most importantly, I make sure to be on time for my open stage. It is important I run my pieces, feel the floor, and practice all of the things that are necessary so that I can perform my best. My mom also makes me a “cupcake in a jar” which is simply three layers of cake with icing in between. So, for good luck, the night before I have to dance, I eat a layer of the cupcake.
What advice do you have to dancers who will be attending their very first ballet competition?
Just relax and have fun! Also, almost all competitions have an open stage. Make sure you know when your open stage is so that you can feel the stage and practice on the stage before you have to perform. Make sure that you are not late to your venue, and you are ready in time so you are not stressing about doing your hair and makeup. That could really alter your performance. Also, don’t stand behind stage too early. Sometimes watching other dancers can make you nervous. Be confident in your training. Smile, perform your best, and most of all, love and enjoy what you are doing.
What is your favorite part of ballet class?
My favorite part of ballet class is pirouettes. I am a natural turner, so it is something that I really enjoy to do in ballet class.
I also would like to give a quick “Thank You” to The Rock School, and to my family and friends for supporting me.
Please follow Prix de Lausanne. There will be Livestream coverage!
Featured photo credit: Tukes Photography.