Thursday, February 8, 2018

Our Tips for a Successful Audition for CFB's Summer Intensive

Since the Central Florida Ballet's Summer Intensive Auditions are this Saturday, February 10, we asked our students and staff for their best advice to have a great audition. Enjoy their tips below!

Go into the audition and have fun! Look as if you enjoy dancing, and dance because you love it!

Maintain a professional attitude throughout the whole audition, don’t lean on barres and such.

Be confident and just be yourself because there’s no such thing as failing if you are being yourself and trying your best. 

 Ms. Missy
Photos by Michael Cairns
Auditions can be intimidating but remember it’s a class, so try your best and pay close attention. I like to see a dancer who looks like they’re enjoying themselves. It’s more important to see that a student respects their art form rather than doing four off-balance pirouettes.

For information on CFB's Summer Intensive Audition, please visit or call 407-849-9948

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Academy Teacher, Melissa D'Avanzo, Reveals Benefits of CFB's Summer Intensive

Academy Teacher: Melissa D'Avanzo, 
Photo by Michael Cairns

What makes Central Florida Ballet's Summer Intensive unique?
CFB has a great Summer Intensive because it brings the student into contact with a variety of dance forms and instructors from ultra-classical ballet variations to Rockette-style jazz. The students have an opportunity to learn from teachers from around the world in an intimate studio setting with lots of personal attention.

 Photo by Lisbet Photography 

What tips do you have for students auditioning for the Summer Intensive program?
Auditions can be intimidating but remember it’s a class, so try your best and pay close attention. I like to see a dancer who looks like they’re enjoying themselves. It’s more important to see that a student respects their art form rather than doing four off-balance pirouettes.

How do you prepare for teaching ballet?
I usually like to prepare my combinations ahead of time. That way I can work on things at the barre that will help the steps in the center. If I have a class level more than once a week I will work on perfecting certain steps that whole week.

Courtesy of Central Florida Ballet Instagram

What advice do you have for students to get the most of out their classes?
Keep your eyes and ears open at all times. Take and apply every correction you hear. Don't wait for your name to be attached to a correction, just use them all! And have fun! Ballet is a lot of hard work but so rewarding!

What major benefits do dancers receive by participating in the Summer Intensive?
The intensive is especially good for improving pointework. Our program has students dancing for up to 6 hours per day which helps them to strengthen their technique and sharpens the mind’s attention to detail. At the same time, our dancers get to make new friends and experience different types of teaching styles.

Photo by Lisbet Photography

Which do you love teaching the most - ballet technique, pointe technique or variations?
I like teaching all three, but I think teaching ballet technique is the most rewarding because a teacher can really see improvement over the course of the year. Also I find theory and the scientific principle behind many ballet movements fascinating.

What has been your favorite part of teaching over the years?
I like to see when a new student has come to our Summer Intensive for the first time and so enjoys it that they decide to come back to our studio as a full time year-round student.

For information on CFB's Summer Intensive, visit or call 407-849-9948 ext 10.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Academy Student, Elizabeth, Shares her Summer Experience

 We recently spoke with Academy Student, Elizabeth Cotter (age 16), about her experience at CFB's Summer Intensive. Enjoy our chat below!

Academy Student: Elizabeth Cotter

Describe a typical Summer Intensive day:
A typical summer intensive day actually changes depending on the day, which is one of my favorite things about the intensive. We usually have ballet and pointe in the mornings and sometimes variations afterwards, then lunch. On other days we might have yoga in the morning, which is a really fun and relaxing way to start your day. After lunch we usually have 3 classes such as character, jazz, contemporary, repertoire, dance history, yoga, pilates, and acrobatics. It’s really great because these other genres of dance will alternate day by day.

Elizabeth works on her technique at CFB Studios
Photo by Lisbet Photography 

What makes CFB's intensive stand out when compared to other programs?
The positive energy of CFB definitely stands out. Kids from all over the country, and even from other countries come to CFB’s summer intensive, and every year we always seem to bond quickly and become one big family. The studio is always a safe place with positive energy.

Also, CFB has a much larger range of classes that we take other than ballet programs. Some intensives that I have been to only have two or three genres of dance other than ballet, and doing that for 4-6 weeks straight can become slightly boring. CFB’s summer intensive has sometimes 6 other genres of dance other than ballet that can alternate day by day and that makes the intensive much more interesting than others.

Elizabeth posing for a dance portrait
Photo by Lisbet Photography 

What is one tip you would give to those auditioning for CFB's Summer Intensive?
One tip I would give for auditioning for the program would be to be confident and just be yourself because there’s no such thing as failing if you are being yourself and trying your best.

CFB's Summer Intensive introduces dancers to new classes like Acrobatics, Improv, Hip-Hop, and Nutrition & Acting Seminars to name a few. What was your favorite new class and why?
My favorite class would be improv because as a ballet dancer, we do not have a lot of artistic freedom, especially with movements. An improv class gives you the ability to show your inner emotions and really helps you get the stress of the day out by showing your emotions through movement.

Elizabeth displays her flexibility in a dance portrait
Photo by Lisbet Photography

The program concludes with a Showcase performance. Tell us about the pieces that are performed and the rehearsal/learning process.
The performance is always a super fun way to end the summer.  We usually have one dance per genre and each level gets to perform. The learning process is definitely fun. We usually spend the last two weeks of intensive learning the pieces for each of our classes.

Do you get nervous to perform? What are some tips you would give to overcome nerves?
I usually get slightly nervous like most people do. To overcome the nerves I just remind myself that I definitely know the choreography and that if I just try my best then things will go smoothly. I also try to realize that a mistake is just a mistake and even if you mess up pretty bad, although it might seem like the world is ending, in a few years it will just be another thing to laugh about.

For information on CFB's Summer Intensive, visit or call 407-849-9948 ext 10.


Thursday, January 4, 2018

Madeleine shares her experience at CFB's Summer Intensive

CFB Academy student, Madeleine Hall (age 15), has participated in Central Florida Ballet's Summer Intensive for three years. She recently shared why she has enjoyed the program, enjoy our chat below!

Pictured: Academy Student, Madeleine Hall

Describe a typical summer intensive day:
The day starts off with a ballet technique class followed by pointe, variations, or partnering depending on the day and level that you’re in. After that there’s about an hour break for lunch and then more classes. Usually the second part of the day isn’t just ballet. There are other classes including modern, character, tap, contemporary, jazz, acting, and pilates/yoga. In a few of those classes, each level begins working on a repertory piece to perform at the end of the intensive. Each level always performs a ballet piece and a few other different styles from what they’ve been working on in class.

How is CFB's Summer Intensive different from the full year program?
During the intensive you spend more time each day dancing. We have 6 hours of classes each day, which is different than the full year program which is about 3 1/2 hours each day. The training is more intense but the level of focus and commitment is definitely the same as during the year.

Madeleine (front) at CFB Studios

What benefits do you gain through the program?
Since you’re dancing all day long, you have more time to work on your technique and grow as a dancer in a shorter period of time. Summer intensives help you gain more strength, versatility, and confidence.

CFB offers new classes during the Intensive not available during the year long program. What have been your favorite new classes? 

I really like that they have a Nutrition Seminar because it’s important to know and understand how to keep your body healthy. As dancers, food is very important to us because it gives us the energy to keep dancing. I also like that there’s an Acting Seminar because when we dance it’s not enough for us to only do the steps, we also have to convey emotions which we do with acting. Learning more about these two topics can be super helpful for us to know so we can apply it.

Madeleine receives extra inspiration on acting 
during a weekend excursion to a nearby theme park: Walt Disney World

What do you enjoy most about the intensive? 
One of the best parts about the intensive, aside from the dancing, is meeting new people and making friends with those who share the same love of dance as you do. It’s kind of a way to put yourself in the dance community and make connections with people that you wouldn’t have known before.

For information on CFB's Summer Intensive, visit or call 407-849-9948 ext 10.


Sunday, November 26, 2017

Interview with Artistic Director: Vladimir Bykov

To learn more about the Central Florida Ballet's upcoming Nutcracker production,  we spoke with CFB's Artistic Director, Vladimir Bykov. Enjoy our chat below!

Artistic Director of the Central Florida Ballet: Vladimir Bykov
Photo by: Michael Cairns

How many dancers participate in CFB's Nutcracker production and what is the rehearsal schedule?
We have 75 dancers, 4 instructors, and 27 pieces in the production. Rehearsals are held each weekend from October through December.

What do you look for when casting dancers?
Technical ability,  performance skills, and ability to learn choreography fast.

Vladimir Bykov rehearsing dancers at Central Florida Ballet Studios
Photo by Lisbet Photography

What can we expect new this year? 
For the Arabian dance, we will have 6 aerialists. It's never been done before so that will be very exciting for the audience. Also we are debuting a new Act II set which replaces the original first used in 2001.

Video Preview of CFB's The Nutcracker

You've played the role of Drosselmeyer for many years, do you ever get nervous before going onstage?
I don't get nervous myself but sometimes do for our dancers.

Have you ever had any unexpected moments onstage?
Of course. It is a live performance and there is always something going wrong. Luckily, the majority of the audience members don't notice it.

 Vladimir Bykov as Drosselmeyer in CFB's The Nutcracker during a pyrotechnics explosion. Photo by: Virginia Trudeau & Deedee Sherman

 What do you find most rewarding in producing The Nutcracker?
Knowing that someone out there in the audience enjoyed it very much.

For information and to purchase tickets to The Nutcracker, please visit

The Central Florida Ballet brings you an unparalleled Nutcracker performance - complete with uniquely composed sets, aerial acrobatics, pyrotechnics and an exceptional ballet company you won’t soon forget. 

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Cassandra LeRette Shares her Favorite Nutcracker Memories

 Professional Dancer of the Central Florida Ballet:
 Cassandra LeRette

1. How many years have you performed in CFB's Nutcracker and which roles have you performed in?
I have performed in CFB's Nutcracker for 13 years. Over the years I've had the opportunity to perform many different roles, including; Mice, Lambs, Angels, Party Girls, Bon Bons, Jig, Soldiers, Party Teens, Snow, Spanish, Tulips, Party Parents, Maria, Shepherdess, and Butterfly!

2. Tell us some of your favorite Nutcracker memories:
Every year, the entire process, from the studio to the stage is just as exciting and rewarding as the last, no matter my age. I always get goosebumps when I hear the music in the studio and I still feel  that way when I'm in the wings at the theater. Some of my favorite memories are simply what I feel before I go onstage and what I feel after the performance, taking in the audience, the music, and just thinking about what we've accomplished altogether. Sounds cheesy but it's true!

 Cassandra rehearses at CFB Studios

3. What roles will you be performing this year and which do you enjoy the most?
This year I will be performing in Party Parents, Snow demi-solo, Shepherdess, and Butterfly!

The role I enjoy performing the most has to be Butterfly, hands down. This year will be my 4th time dancing it, and I still feel the same way I did when I was cast in it the first time. It is without a doubt the hardest role I've ever had to perform, and not just in The Nutcracker.

 Cassandra performs the role of Butterfly in CFB's The Nutcracker;
 Photo by Jose Garrido

Not only is the choreography challenging, but there are also moments that require suspension and elegance, taking up as much space on the stage as I can, using the wings to make it appear as if they are a part of me and not just the costume, all while showing strength and precision through those intense leap and turn sequences. The moments where the steps are smaller can be some of the hardest, simply because I have to channel my energy into my technique and softness through those steps and mask the fact that I can't feel my legs or can't seem to catch my breath. It's all to make it look effortless.

As I am about to make my last entrance, the same thought runs through my head every time, "I don't think I can finish this", and yet, every single time, I get that last rush of adrenaline to push me through. After it's over, and my heart rate has returned to normal and I'm able to breathe again, I feel so fulfilled and empowered. It was my dream role when I was younger, and it is still my dream role!

4. In addition to being a professional dancer, you currently work as a property manager for Darton U.S. Holdings and are going to school for Business, specializing in Real Estate and Property Management. Describe your typical week and how you manage to fit everything in your schedule.

My typical week includes working from 8:00 to 5:30 on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I have evening college classes on Monday until 9:15 and I complete my other classes when I have time, as they are online/lecture based, but I usually try to knock those out in the beginning of the week. On Tuesday and Thursday, I either work or go to school in the morning, head to adult class from 12:00 to 1:00 and then head back to work until 6:00. I also strength train at the gym on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday or Sunday, but I switch that up with cycling on occasion. Saturday and Sunday are usually filled with dance and/or rehearsals during Nutcracker time! There are some days or weeks when it seems like too much, but I force myself to get into simple routines that help me manage my time the best that I can, knowing it will all pay off!

Cassandra strength training at the gym

5. Do you have any pre-show rituals? How will you prepare to dance the days of the performances?
I don't really have any pre-show "rituals" per say, but I do have to get into a particular mindset, so I'll put my headphones on while I'm warming up or doing my makeup and listen to something to put my mind at ease, sometimes it's classical, sometimes it's some Sinatra/oldies, and sometimes it's some Led Zeppelin, Queen, Supertramp, good, classic rock. It all depends on my mood.

 Cassandra gets ready backstage before a performance

As we get closer to the performance, I make sure my body is in the best shape it can be, I've rehearsed what I need to in order to feel comfortable on stage, simply because it's 10x harder than in the studio. I always make sure I'm completely warm before I dance and I always make sure to stretch after class and take any precautions needed to either prevent injuries or make them feel better (if I have any at the time).

6. Have you ever had something unexpected happen onstage? Describe what happened...
Luckily I haven't had anything majorly unexpected happen onstage, and I hope I don't in the future either (haha) Just little things here and there, so I'm always expecting the unexpected and thinking about what I would need to do if (blank) happened.

Cassandra performs the role of Shepherdess in CFB's The Nutcracker; 
Photo by Rodrigo Athie Photography

7. What is your favorite Nutcracker memory?
I don't have a favorite memory in particular that I can think of right now, but after taking the bows, and the curtain closes, everyone kind of turns around and looks at each other before realizing what we just accomplished. Then there's hugging, (sometimes crying), "good job" and "congratulations" being spoken left and right, there are pictures taken, and flowers are exchanged, it's one of the neatest feelings to do what you love and what you've worked so hard for, and share that with hundreds of other people, whether they were dancing, or made your costume, or even hooked you during your quick change. It's quite the process, but when it all comes together, it's pretty magical to say the least.

 Cassandra backstage during The Nutcracker

We invite you to join us this holiday season, as the Central Florida Ballet brings you an unparalleled Nutcracker performance - complete with uniquely composed sets, aerial acrobatics, pyrotechnics and an exceptional ballet company you won’t soon forget. 

Tickets are on sale now at

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Nutcracker Guest Artist Series: Davi Chagas talks about preparing for The Nutcracker

The Central Florida Ballet is pleased to announce Davi Chagas will be featured as a guest artist in CFB's The Nutcracker this December. Davi currently lives in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil where he is a soloist for the Cia Jovem Balletarrj. 

We spoke with Davi about his upcoming feature, enjoy our chat below!

Davi Chagas as the Cavalier in Central Florida Ballet's The Nutcracker.
Photo by Marshall Ellis Photography

 1. What role(s) will you be performing in The Nutcracker?
I will be playing the role of the Prince in the first act and Shepherd (also known as Mirlitons) in the second act! I look forward to participating once again in this beautiful production of the Central Florida Ballet! It's going to be a lot of fun!

2. You've performed for several years in CFB's Nutcracker. Which roles did you perform and enjoy the most?
I have performed the Snow King role in the first act as well as Spanish Lead and also Cavalier in the second act. A funny memory I have is at the end of the Snow scene, the stage hands released A LOT of fake snow on the last performance day hahaha it was a lot of fun.

Davi Chagas performs the Snow King role in Central Florida Ballet's The Nutcracker.

 3. Describe your typical weekly dance training schedule in Brazil:
Well before any physical activity, I make sure to do enough stretching. Each weekday I have ballet class. After class, I have rehearsals and then more rehearsals! It is very tiring!

4. How is the life different in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil versus Orlando, Florida? 
In Brazil we have a lot of culture, we have beaches, historical theaters,  and we have Carnival Brazil. It's a very lively country. Orlando is really cool, the city has the parks and wonderful restaurants! The difference is that the USA is a developed country for those who live in America, the chances of work are greater! Also Americans treat Brazilians well, that's cool!

Davi Chagas in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

5. You've won medals and honors in numerous international ballet competitions, what are some of your top awards?
Prix ​​de Lausanne in Switzerland was an amazing experience! I won the silver medal at the New York Youth American Grand Prix and received the bronze medal at the World Ballet Competition in Orlando, Florida.

6. Which do you enjoy more -- competing or dancing in a performance?
I prefer performance. I can express myself more, I feel free!

Davi Chagas performs a contemporary solo at the World Ballet Competition. 
Photo by Virginia Trudeau

6. Do you have any pre-show rituals?
Every dancer has a ritual before dancing hahaha, I prefer to listen to music, I eat something too. Then I get dressed and do a quick rehearsal before the performance!

7. What is your favorite Nutcracker memory?

I really enjoyed my first time as a guest artist for Central Florida Ballet's The Nutcracker! I made many friends and had a lot of fun!

Want to see Davi perform in The Nutcracker? Tickets are on sale now at