Since ballet and high fashion make quite the formidable duo, its only fitting that Teen Vogue editor-in-chief Amy Astley marry the two art forms in Strictly Ballet, a web series that documents the lives of up-and-coming ballerinas vying for a coveted spot in a world-renowned ballet company.
While the first season naturally focused on dancers battling it out for positions with the New York City Ballet, this season takes a surprising trip south: to the shores of Miami Beach, where Teen Vogue turned the lens on a group of pre-teens and hopeful high school students in the midst of their classical ballet training.
Astley, as a former ballerina herself, wanted to showcase what it takes to be a dancer and the sacrifices teenagers have to make in order to realize professional careers. Her decision to turn the lens on Miami City Ballet was based on the city's international flavor and diversity. "Our students are coming from all over the world to train in Miami, it's an American dream for them because of the repertoire offered in ballet companies in America," says Darleen Callaghan, director of the Miami City Ballet School. This year, MCB has welcomed students from Russia, Cuba, Columbia, Brazil, Spain, Israel, and Japan.
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International MCB students dive right into both an unknown world and a grueling schedule: they live in dorms on the MCB campus, and the pre-professional group, aged 14-19, spend roughly 30 hours per week in the studio. It's a bona fide full-time job, and one that often more often than not ends up in heartbreak. Though the passion is there, the odds are low: less than five percent of MCB students will go on to have professional performance careers.
And out of 55 students in MCB's pre-professional group, the odds make for some great internet drama, complete with tutus and tiaras. Strictly Ballet will focus on about 30 of the top level dancers in the pre-professional group, chronicling a day in the life of ballet-dancing teenagers in fierce-and-fabulous Miami.