Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Jenna Latham: The Road to Butler University

Jenna Latham, age 17, is in the process of transitioning from Academy student to joining a college dance program this Fall. Read our interview below to learn about Jenna's experience auditioning for colleges across the country and her decision to attend Butler University!

Pictured: Academy Student, Jenna Latham  

When did you start classes at the Ballet Academy of Central Florida and what do you want your college major to be?
I officially became a student at BACF when I was a sophomore in high school, but I participated in the summer intensives prior to enrolling in the full program. I’m going to college to major in dance and hopefully minor in environmental studies.

What colleges have you applied to?
I applied to the University of Arizona, Butler University, NYU Tisch School of the Arts, Boston Conservatory, Pointpark University, and Dominican University of California (Alonzo King LINES BFA program).

Pictured: Academy Student, Jenna Latham

 What is your dream college to be accepted to?
It’s hard for me to choose one school that I love the most. Each of them have different strengths, my top schools are Butler University and Dominican University. Butler has great classical ballet training, and Dominican is known for a more contemporary approach to ballet.

How have you auditioned for the colleges? Video submissions or in-person auditions?
For all my auditions I chose to do in-person auditions. I found that my best experiences and results came when I auditioned at the school.

 Pictured: Academy Student, Jenna Latham, warms up at the barre

Is each school's application process similar?
A lot of the schools use the common app which makes it really easy to apply for a bunch of schools at once. Within each university the dance programs require a completely separate application from the academic application. Most do not require videos, but a few do.

What would be your best tip for someone applying to college for dance?
Do your research. Finding the right college was difficult because I wanted to keep training vigorously while also learning new things. There are some seriously incredible programs out there that still provide the same training and performance opportunities as working companies, but finding them takes a lot of time on the internet.

Pictured: Academy Student, Jenna Latham

What have you learned from Central Florida Ballet that has helped you in your auditions?
CFB has helped me become a better dancer technically, but beyond that I have learned how to keep cool headed and light hearted in auditions. I learned that little mistakes aren’t deal breakers and that showing off your style and personality is what the judges really want to see.

What has surprised you most about applying to colleges? And do you have a funny/interesting story to tell from your audition travels?
Until this year the concept of dancing in college seemed pointless because I didn’t realize there were so many good programs out there. What surprised me most was how wonderful the class auditions were. My skepticism of college dance has completely fallen away after my experiences. So, there was one weekend where I had both my NYU and Boston audition within 24 hours of each other, and unfortunately, I left my ballet shoes in New York. I went into my Boston audition with as much confidence as a barefoot ballerina could. Fortunately the teachers were extremely kind and considerate of the situation. Right as I was losing hope for the rest of class my mom was able to discretely slip me a brand new pair of shoes before center began.

For more information about the Central Florida Ballet & Academy, please visit or call 407-849-9948. 

***New Students dance for free in August***
Book your spot by emailing


Thursday, March 9, 2017

Central Florida Ballet Awarded Highest Score of an Orange County Organization in the State of Florida's 2017-18 DCA Grant

March 9, 2017 - Orlando, FL, USA - The Central Florida Ballet recently scored very high on the State of Florida's Division of Cultural Affairs General Program Support grant for 2017-18 Season:

Placing 17th Overall (out of 492 applications) with a score of 95.833 and earning the highest score of an Orange County organization. 

Rankings for other top scoring organizations include: Orlando Repertory Theatre ranked #29, Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra #31, Orlando Science Center #37, Orlando Ballet #42, The Winter Park Playhouse #58, and Orlando Museum of Art #65. A total of 492 applications were reviewed for the 2017-18 cycle. Funding for the grant is awaiting legislator approval.

Central Florida Ballet's The Nutcracker (Photo by Lisbet Photography)

The Central Florida Ballet (CFB) credits its tourist-drawing, high caliber dance programs for receiving the top score. Central Florida Ballet applied for their 2017-18 Season which includes the 2017 Nutcracker production, 2018 World Ballet Competition, 2017 Summer Intensive Dance Program, and outreach programs benefiting Title 1 Schools in the Orlando area. The Central Florida Ballet's venue for all public performances is the Linda Chapin Theater in the Orange County Convention Center. CFB is the only local arts organization to be performing in the theater.

A full list of the grant scores can be viewed at

Next up for the Central Florida Ballet is the presentation of the 2017 World Ballet Competition with Daily Competition Rounds held June 19-23 and concluding with a star-studded Gala performance on June 24 at 7:30pm.

 The World Ballet Competition,
an event produced and presented by the Central Florida Ballet
(Photo by Virginia Trudeau)

For information on the Central Florida Ballet and its events, please visit / or call 407.849.9948.

About the Central Florida Ballet: Innovative ballet productions, educational programs, and international partnerships are the keystones of the Central Florida Ballet with glowing recognition from ABC News, CNN, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, and the U.S. House of Representatives. The Central Florida Ballet is a not-for-profit organization.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Desiree Nguyen talks life in Delaware

Desiree Nguyen made the big transition from Academy student to professional dancer this past Fall when she joined the First State Ballet Theatre as an apprentice in Wilmington, Delaware. We caught up with Desiree to talk about her experience as a professional dancer....

Desiree in First State Ballet Theatre's Season Opening performance.

At what age did you start training at the Ballet Academy of Central Florida?
I started training at Ballet Academy of Central Florida at age twelve.

What have been some of your favorite performances or experiences with the Central Florida Ballet (CFB)?
One of my favorite experiences I’ve had with CFB has been the outreach performances. I love being able to share my art form with others that usually don’t have the access to the classical arts on a regular basis.

How did you land your job at the First State Ballet Theatre?
I received a contract after participating in the Job Fair at the World Ballet Competition this past June.

Describe a typical day.
A typical work day for me, starts at 9 which is when I usually get to the studio giving me time to change, stretch, and have a morning chat with friends before our warmup class starts at 10. Class most of the time is about an hour and a half long which prepares us for the rehearsals to follow. Rehearsals usually run from 11:30 to 2 with no breaks between. Sometimes after rehearsals a couple of people will go out and grab a coffee before heading home. Then it all happens again the next day!

Desiree practices in the studio at First State Ballet Theatre.

How do you keep in touch with family and friends?
To keep in touch with friends, I try to call them once a week to keep up to date on current events in each others' lives. With that being said, I do have friends I don't talk to while away, but we still have a great friendship when we're back in the same place. While with family I usually talk to them every couple of days to keep them up to date on on things going on here in Wilmington.

What is your city like? What is popular among locals?
A popular place with the company dancers is a coffee shop less than half a block away from the studios called Brew-Haha! Another place you can often find us would be at a restaurant called Mikimotos which serves some of my favorite sushi in town. Wilmington is a fairly small city, so small that almost nothing is open on the weekends, but that’s just okay with me seeing that Philadelphia, Newark, and New York are all so close.

Desiree takes a striking photo in front of the Grand Opera House in downtown Wilmington where the First State Ballet Theatre's performances are held.

How are the classes/atmosphere/life different from CFB?
Company warmup is very different from student classes because you get artistic freedom with the movements, and there are very few corrections given during the class. The atmosphere is also completely different from being in a pre-professional setting. In a pre-professional setting you can work up to 5 months on a single production, where as in a company you can have as little time as 2 weeks to put an entire production together!

Desiree in First State Ballet Theatre's production of Swan Lake.

What did you learn from CFB that has helped you during your time there?
The most important thing I've learned from my time with CFB is dance etiquette. It's one of the most important things when working in a professional setting. Whether that be, how to be respectful to not only your directors but also your fellow dancers, to keeping your things neat while at the studio so it's not in the way of others.

What has surprised you most?
The major thing that surprised me, was how much our whole company genuinely cares about each other. It's been such a positive environment that I couldn't be more thankful for this to be my first company.

Desiree in First State Ballet Theatre's production of Swan Lake.

What are you looking forward to this Spring and what are your summer plans?
What I'm most excited for this spring is being a part of Elegant Souls: A Triple Bill. The program includes Walpurgis Night from the Opera Faust, Elegant Souls, a choreographed piece by Viktor Plotnikov, and the Grand Pas from Raymonda. Each of these pieces has such a different style compared to the other, which is going to push me artistically in ways I haven't been before.

After my season ends with the company, I hope to return to CFB and continue to take classes to keep improving my technique. Later on in the summer, I plan on attending New Jersey Ballet's Summer Intensive on a full scholarship.

Want to push yourself to the next level? Start classes at the Central Florida Ballet's official school by visiting our website for information on Spring Enrollment and our Summer Programs.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Preview of New Sets for Central Florida Ballet's The Nutcracker

Central Florida Ballet's The Nutcracker will take center stage in the Linda Chapin Theater at the Orange County Convention Center on December 17 at 2pm & 7:30pm, and December 18 at 2pm.

The 16th annual production will see the debut of new set backdrops, which replace the originals made in 2001. A company in Russia was commissioned to hand-paint the backdrops measuring a massive 25 feet wide and 50 feet tall.

Here's a Preview of the new set backdrops:

Drawing of the "Party Scene" for Central Florida Ballet's The Nutcracker
Design by Dorin Gal 

Drawing of the "Snow Scene" for Central Florida Ballet's The Nutcracker
Design by Dorin Gal 

"I am excited for our audiences to see our new set backdrops." says CFB Founder and Executive Director, Vasile Petrutiu. "It will be the perfect holiday surprise!"

While staying true to the traditional classic story of The Nutcracker, the Central Florida Ballet's production is unique to the nation for its: thrilling pyrotechnics, fiber-optic special effects, and aerial acrobatics.

The production reached national attention from major news organizations:
•    USA Today "the pyrotechnic Nutcracker"
•    CNN Headline News "one of the top five productions in the nation"
•    Wall Street Journal "mini-explosions and aerial acrobatics"

Two popular events complementing the ‘Nutcracker experience’ are: The Nutcracker Boutique filled with popular gift items, and the Nutcracker Raffle & Silent Auction which will raise funds for the 2016/17 season. Both events will open forty-five minutes before each performance and during intermission.

Tickets are priced at $80 for “VIP” package, $64 for “Gold Circle”, $48 for Section A, $38 for Section B and $24 for Section C and may be purchased at

Here's a preview of the production:

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Four Moms Share Opinions on the Nutcracker

Since The Nutcracker is a holiday tradition for many families around the world, we decided to get a mom's perspective on the beloved classic. 

We chatted with four moms who reveal which Nutcracker character they would like to be and much more! Enjoy!


Pictured: Alexis with husband, Philip

1. Which dance do you enjoy most in The Nutcracker?

My favorite dance by far is the "Waltz of the Snowflakes" 🙂

2. What is your favorite part about attending The Nutcracker? 

My favorite part is how it has become a wonderful family tradition for the Holiday Season to watch the Nutcracker. This is our 8th year and can't wait to see it again!

3. Have you visited CFB's Nutcracker Boutique or the Nutcracker Raffle/Silent Auction? Did you buy or win any items?
We always visit the boutique every year to get a special Nutcracker for that year!

4. If you were to be a Nutcracker character, who would you like to play?

Snow Queen! Because it is my favorite scene and I love the tutu and the part where she comes out with the snow king holding her with one hand.. That would be so neat to do that!


Pictured: Sharita Jackson

1. Which dance do you enjoy most in The Nutcracker?
I loved watching the very last Grande Pas de Deux.

2. What is your favorite part about attending The Nutcracker? 
Celebrating the holiday season is always exciting when you take part in traditions that are celebrated world wide.  My most favorite part about attending the Nutcracker ballet is seeing all the dancers pour their heart and souls into perfecting the historical choreography of their artistic director...especially the younger dancers.

3. Have you visited CFB's Nutcracker Boutique or the Nutcracker Raffle/Silent Auction? Did you buy or win any items?
Yes, the silent auction added a bit of fun and a shopping opportunity for everyone in attendance.  Last year was my first year purchasing a Nutcracker doll for my 7 year old daughter.  I anticipate adding one doll to our newly started collection each year.  While purchasing the doll, I also purchased straws for the raffle.  I am very pleased to say that I walked away with 3 nice auction items!!!  Hoping for good fortune next time around.

4. If you were to be a Nutcracker character, who would you like to play?
Maria of course!!  LOL! 


Pictured: Lisa with husband, Tom

1. Which dance do you enjoy most in The Nutcracker?
That's a really hard question because the wonderful thing about Nutcracker is that the dances are so varied. You have the ethereal Waltz of the Snow Flakes, the fun of the jig, and the grandeur of the Sugar Plum Fairy!  Oh! And the snap of the fantastic Spanish dance!  If I have to pick one it's probably the Snow Waltz.

2. What is your favorite part about attending The Nutcracker? 
The Nutcracker was the first ballet I ever attended as a child and a tradition my mother gave me each year and one I now give to my children and will give my grandchildren someday. I love that the Nutcracker is a timeless classic that is part of our family's tradition.

3. Have you visited CFB's Nutcracker Boutique or the Nutcracker Raffle/Silent Auction? Did you buy or win any items?
We bid and won a bowling excursion.

4. If you were to be a Nutcracker character, who would you like to play?
I would love to be the Snow Queen so I could dance in all of the snow!


Pictured: Christy with daughters, Erica and Cassandra

1. Which dance do you enjoy most in The Nutcracker?  
The pas de deux where Maria dances with the Prince in the first act. It's beautiful!

2. What is your favorite part about attending The Nutcracker? 

The first part of the show when the "party scene" begins because everything is so colorful and beautiful!

3. Have you visited CFB's Nutcracker Boutique or the Nutcracker Raffle/Silent Auction? Did you buy or win any items?  

I have bought some awesome nutcrackers at the boutique (they have the BEST selection!). I also bought some raffle tickets that weren't winners, but maybe this will be my lucky year!

4. If you were to be a Nutcracker character, who would you like to play?

Maria - she dances a lot and gets to watch almost everything when she's not dancing!

For tickets and more information on attending 
the Central Florida Ballet's Nutcracker, 
please click the following link:

Also be sure to check out our video preview:

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Natalia Bashkatova shares thoughts on Teaching and Performing

We are so excited to share a little bit about our 
Academy faculty member: Natalia Bashkatova!

We asked her a few questions and here is what she had to say:

Pictured: Natalia Bashkatova

1. What do you enjoy most about teaching?
The enjoyment of teaching begins where you start to see your students improving their skills! Ambitiously to say, but I love when my kids want to be in your class and their parents appreciate you for your involvement into their child's life! Every single student has a talent and it feels just right to be able to recognize it, work on bringing this talent to the maximum level! At the end of the day when they are standing on stage and bowing to the audience who is shouting Bravo!; it's my moment of satisfaction as a teacher and mentor!

Natalia Bashkatova teaching at the Central Florida Ballet

2. Do you pre-plan your combinations for class?
Of course I prepare my class in advance, not all of it, but the structure of it. Ballet class is all about the placement and logic.

3. Tell us about your dancing background; your school and companies you worked for. Who are some of the teachers that have inspired you?
My background starts in Moscow, Russia when at the age of ten I got accepted to the Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Moscow. I graduated in the Summer of 1989 and was accepted to the Bolshoi Theatre Grigorovich Ballet Company.  During my school years, I had five amazing ballet teachers, but during the last two years I was in a class of ELENA Ryabinkina legendary Russian ballerina who also danced alongside Galina Ulanova, Maya Plisetskaya and Ekaterina Maximova! She continued to work with me in the Bolshoi Ballet and prepared me for my first Swan Lake principal role at age 20! I was very fortunate to start dancing principal roles at such a young age. I was touring around the world very intensively these years and was recognized as the Best Ballerina in 1993 at the Spoletto Festival in Italy. The major input into my professional career I would give to Mr. Yuri Grigorovich who choreographed semi-classical ballet repertoire for the Bolshoi. I was extremely lucky to work privately with this iconic choreographer!

Natalia Bashkatova performs the White Swan pas de deux in Swan Lake with the
Bolshoi Theatre Grigorovich Ballet Company

The next phase of my career falls on guest artist period! New York City Ballet tour probably most recognizable, I shared the stage with names like Heather Watts, Wendy Whelan, Valentina Kozlova, Jack Soto and of course partnering with those incredible male dancers like Damian Woetzel, Ben Huys and Igor Zelensky!

In the present time I am still performing full time as a ballet artist with worldwide known Cirque Du Soleil here in Orlando. Come to see La Nouba and you see me perform! I have been with Cirque since 1997. It's my second production which I started back in 1998.

Natalia Bashkatova in full costume for Cirque du Soleil's La Nouba

4. What do you work on in class?
In my class I mainly work on the classical form of ballet! I am representing Vaganova Style and very much follow the major roles and requirements of this style.

5. If you could describe your ballet classes in three words, what would they be?
Form - Style - Discipline

6. You recently choreographed a contemporary piece for the World Ballet Competition, did you enjoy the process? Was it difficult to think of original choreography?
I choreographed before, but not for the professional ballet stage. It was my debut as a choreographer to expose my work for a professional dance auditorium. I think the most important for a choreographer is their signature unique style. I was very surprised that many dancers already recognized my style.  My inspiration always is music! And I was very fortunate to work with this talented girl Jasmine Jasper who was at the time a student of the Central Florida Ballet's Academy. In September of this year she continued her ballet studies at the American Ballet Theatre's Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School in New York City.

Contemporary piece choreographed by Natalia at the 2016 World Ballet Competition
(performed by Academy student: Jasmine Jasper)

For more information about the Central Florida Ballet and its Academy, please visit or call 407-849-9948

Friday, September 9, 2016

Dancer Pays Tribute to Friend who Died at Pulse

The Central Florida Ballet will commemorate the 15th Anniversary attack on the World Trade Center with its stirring performance "9/11 An American Moment” to be held at Northland, A Church Distributed this Sunday, September 11, 2016 at 2:00pm.

David William Scott will be a featured performer and sat down to share his thoughts on the production - and the personal impact of the Pulse attack in Orlando.

Where were you when you heard about the 9/11 attack?
I was in school in between two classes. They made an announcement that school was cancelled for the rest of the day and to go straight home.

What does dancing in this tribute performance mean to you?
It's a honor to be asked to perform in this show. I previously had been living in NYC that summer and I knew a couple of friends who had lost a loved one. I always dedicate my performance to them.

In the performance, you will be dancing a pas de deux titled "I Dreamed a Dream" from Les Miserables. It's a very emotional piece with lots of lifts. What do you think about when you perform the piece? How do you connect with your partner emotionally?
Jenna is a beautiful dancer and I feel as if we have a great chemistry together. As I perform this piece I try to emote the beauty and emotion this piece requires. It is a little difficult with all of the lifts but Jenna is great and is very dedicated.

Do you know anyone affected by the Pulse attack? If so, tell us more.
I lost a very dear friend in the Pulse attack: Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado ❤️. He was an amazing dancer, father and most of all friend . I've been to the nightclub on numerous times growing up. It was very hard for me when I first found out because I was supposed to be there that night but decided I should stay in instead. It has made me a stronger person and reminds me to tell my friends and family how much I love them everyday. 

Pictured: Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, a victim of the Pulse attack.

Have you been to New York and if so, what is your most memorable experience there?
I had the opportunity to dance with the School of American Ballet for their year-long program. I absolutely loved it. My most memorable experience was being asked to do a dance photo shoot in Central Park!

Do you have any pre-performance rituals and how do you prepare?
I always review my choreography before I go out and dedicate my performance to someone (usually my mom!)

Anything special we should know about your performance on Sunday?
It's hard to believe that it's been 15 years since this has happened. I am so thankful for the opportunity to perform and this performance will be dedicated to those who have lost a loved one at Pulse.

Pictured: David William Scott

To purchase tickets for the 9/11 Tribute Performance visit: or call the Central Florida Ballet at 407-849-9948 ext 10

Use code: northland for 50% off your ticket order (valid for tickets up to $30)