IBA: Congratulations, Ellen, on being selected by the directors as our "Encore Performer". You were selected as our Student-of-the-Month in May, 2015, and here we are again, featuring you in our Student Spotlight for May, 2017. What was your reaction when you found out you’d been selected?
EK: I am so honored to be called the "Encore Performer"; I was very happy, flattered, and excited when I was told! I think it is great too that I was selected in May 2015, and now two years later I get the honor of receiving the last month of the year spot-light!
IBA: How have you grown in the two years since we last interviewed you?
EK: I have definitely grown a lot; over the past two years I have figured out who I am as a dancer and normal human (dancers aren’t normal), I have found the things in my life that are most important, and I have become eager to grow even more. I have started to morph my choreographic style through trial and error, usually with more errors than success, and I have started to find little niches in the dance world that are exciting and intriguing.
IBA: You have been a member of International Ballet's Senior Company for three years. What were some of your favorite roles with the company?
EK: Well first off, I will never forget the "Drum Dance" from La Bayadere; it was my first year in the company, and this dance was pretty much all in a deep plié or upper body in parallel to the floor while running! I remember it being such a challenging dance, and it was a great start to my time at IBA of being pushed to improve. Another role that I loved was being a Wili in Giselle. I enjoyed that role the most because Giselle is my favorite ballet. I love the simplicity of the corps; the difficulty of being in unison is so intriguing, and I just love how beautiful it appears to the audience. It was also such an honor to dance with Cara Marie Gary and Temur Suluashvili; they were both so inspiring.
IBA: When looking over the past three years as an IB dancer and IBA student, what one moment stands out mostly for you?
EK: That may be the hardest question I have ever been asked, but I guess the moment that stands out the most was last year on stage for our spring performance and Bernadette [Pennell] had this beautiful moment in “To Mother with Love”, and I just remember thinking how much she had improved, and how mature she looked in that moment.
IBA: You just went through the college dance program audition process. What was that experience like?
EK: It was very exciting and stressful. It was a time in which I suddenly found that I was so stressed out and overwhelmed, that I momentarily forgot that I was also auditioning the schools from which I would choose to attend! I would recommend to any dancer who goes through the college audition process to remember that it is all about finding the right match for you. and to audition as many places you can. If they tell you no, AUDITION AGAIN!
IBA: Congratulations on your acceptance into the Florida State University dance program! Tell us a little about the program and what you will be doing there.
EK: I will be studying at the Dance Conservatory there, I’ll be working towards a BFA, and I will have balanced ballet and modern classes. FSU’s dance conservatory houses the Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography which provides a great opportunity for me to be able to work with choreographers and dancers who have already established a footprint in the dance world. It will be rigorous and intense, and I’m just so excited.
IBA: What will you be doing this summer?
EK: This summer I will be working as a babysitter, as well as doing IBA’s Summer Intensive and trying to prepare for college!
IBA: I know that we asked you this before, but perhaps you won’t mind answering again. What advice do you have for younger ballet students?
EK: Believe in yourself, and other people will too. Also, don’t be afraid to try things in dance that make you uncomfortable; this is the way you will learn who you are. Put yourself out there, be bold, be different!
IBA: Finally, Ellen, please sum up your experiences at IBA and IB in one or two sentences.
EK: I love the family that I have become a part of. I will miss everyone so much and will be visiting every time I’m in town. Thanks for pushing and loving me; I love you all.
IBA: Thank you, Ellen. We love you too. Again, congratulations on your high school graduation! We’re going to miss you so much! Please come back and visit!
Ellen Kilby in Juliana Jordan's "To Mother with Love", International Ballet's Features & Fairytales, Peace Center for the Performing Arts, Gunter Theatre, 2016