Audrey Malek is a 17-year-old pre-professional who studies at New Hampshire School of Ballet and a private institution in Concord. This is her second year participating in YAGP; in 2015 she placed in the Top 12 for contemporary and the Top 24 for classical and was invited to attend classes and performances in New York. She has attended summer intensives with Dance Theatre of Harlem, Ellison Ballet and American Ballet Theatre and has also been accepted to programs with School of American Ballet, Walnut Hill and New York’s Bolshoi Ballet Academy, including an invitation to study in Moscow.
Audrey started dancing in summer-camp classes when she was four or five years old, and then regular ballet classes at age six. “I would always dance around the house and walk on my tippy-toes while barefoot, so my Mom decided that putting me in dance would be a good idea,” she says. She began to become serious about ballet when she was 13, the year she attended Dance Theatre of Harlem’s summer intensive for the first time. “I started to love ballet and think about it as a career,” she says.
Audrey loves performing and she has been attending dance competitions since she was nine, but competing in ballet is quite new to her. “I’ve learned a lot about stage presence!” she says. Her favorite roles include Kitri in Don Quixote and Spanish in Nutcracker. “I also like more delicate roles,” she says, but “exciting” ones like Kitri “seem to come more naturally to me on stage.” She appreciates opportunities to work on varying styles, which keeps her dancing well rounded, and she draws inspiration from watching professional companies. “I see what I might be able to do it if I keep working hard,” she says. “I want to be a professional dancer so much. I always give it my all in every class and performance.”
“I’m constantly working on improving my technique, flexibility, presence and more,” Audrey says. Her method includes writing down what she needs to work on and looking at her notes before classes. She considers private lessons important for her development, partly because she didn’t start studying seriously as early as many pre-professionals do. “Being a late starter, it is crucial for me to have a teacher pinpoint everything that I need to work on,” she explains.
“I’ve always been a shy person,” Audrey says, noting that when she was younger she would never stand at the front of a dance class. At one of her first summer intensives, a teacher told her to come to the front. “In each future class, she’d call my name to make sure I wasn’t hiding in the back,” Audrey recalls. That experience helped her recognize the importance of being noticed and receiving the corrections that she needs in order to improve. “I’ve learned that I can’t shy away from opportunity,” she adds.