Pointe Shoes, and Leos, and Tights, Oh My!


April Singleton

Sierra Griffith striking a pose.

Katelynne Langer, Reporter

          Ballet, New York, and Juilliard dorms.

          Not long ago, the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic occurred. The lockdown for our country happened rapidly. No one was prepared for quarantining at home for weeks at a time. Prior to quarantine, Sierra Griffith, a sophomore, participated in dance at Patterson School of Ballet. Dancing is not a new hobby for Griffith, but the way she danced changed dramatically. During the coronavirus, she could not go to the dance studio, so she danced at home in her own basement.

          “Dancing during the pandemic has changed our normal schedules drastically. As dancers, we are used to sprung marley floors in an endless studio. When the pandemic started, it began as a nice, long break for a few extra weeks. As things progressed, I began to realize we would not see the studios or dance normally again for a long time. I began dancing in my basement, with a small piece of marley provided to me by my dance teacher and a ballet barre that my parents and I built with metal pipes,” Griffith said. “Days began weeks, weeks began months, and before I knew it, I had been taking ballet classes in my basement for six months. My small basement studio has been nothing compared to the huge mirrors, sprung floors, and endless amount of space provided in the studio. This experience of being able to work on the small details of things has been a nice break from the normal. I think that if anything, this challenging time has taught us to be grateful for our big studio spaces.”

          All of this hard work that Griffith put into dancing helped her tremendously. She was accepted into The School of American Ballet in New York City for a year round program.

          “The process of being accepted into The School of American Ballet began with an audition for the SAB Summer Course. The summer course is a five-week intensive at the The School of American Ballet in New York City. After I found out I had been accepted for the summer, shortly after COVID-19 hit, which sent everything into question,” Griffith said. “SAB made the decision to hold their summer intensive virtually this year because of COVID-19. The summer intensive was held virtually over Zoom. We were provided with five weeks of challenging classes, which took some getting used to. After the intensive was over, I received news that the staff at SAB would like me to train there for the year round program.”

          Although ballet is not a new hobby for Griffith, dancing in New York City will be.

          “Normally the SAB winter term would be held on-site from September-June. However, because of COVID-19, my level will only reside and take on-site classes from October 28-February 13. We will live in the Juilliard dorms. To make sure that everyone will have an opportunity to train in the studios at some point this year (with all COVID-19 protocols), the school made the decision to provide the students with zoom training while we are offsite,” Griffith said. “I have been doing Zoom training with SAB since September, and I will do it until October 27th. After October 27th, I will move into the residence hall where I will live until February 13th. After February 13th, my level will continue with Zoom training until the end of the year. Of course, all of these plans are subject to change due to COVID-19.”

          Being accepted into The School of American Ballet for the year round program is a very big accomplishment for Griffith because no one from Erie County has been accepted into this school since the 1980s.