Diné ballerina to spend summer in NYC

By Shondiin Silversmith
Navajo Times

WINDOW ROCK, June 13, 2013

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T he New York City ballet schools will either make or break Gabrielle Freeland.

Needless to say, the 13-year-old Diné ballerina hopes that her acceptance into two programs at two of the best ballet schools in the country will make her a better dancer.

"It's pretty amazing for me because it's a new experience," said Freeland, who has family ties in Sawmill, Ariz. and Tohatchi, N.M. "It will push me toward my dreams of being a principal dancer …"

Freeland, whose dad's clan is Big Water People Clan, was accepted into the NYC Ballet Intensive Summer Program at the Joffery Ballet School from June 9 to July 27, and a summer program at Gelsey Kirkland Academy of Classical Ballet for ages 9 to 13 July 1 to 12.

"It's going to be very special for her," said Freeland's father Mark, on his daughter's acceptance into the programs. "Both these companies are world renowned.

"It's a great opportunity for her to get exposure to both of them and to also get exposure to other dancers from the around the country," he added.

At Joffery, the school's vision is to allow dancers the ability to perfect their technique and form so it flows natural and passionately from within, according to its website.

"The Joffrey Ballet School transforms passionate dance students into versatile, individualistic artists able to collaborate and evolve fluidly in a fast-changing society," according to the website.

Freeland said during her time at Joffrey, she hopes to learn how to become a stronger ballet dancer as well as improve her techniques with her feet and body.

At the Gelsey Kirkland Academy of Classical Ballet, Freeland said she hopes to develop her character on stage.

GKA's mission is to encourage a renaissance of dramatic storytelling in ballet by providing specialized training for gifted students, and by establishing a classically-oriented professional studio company capable of creating and performing new dramatic works, according to its website.

GKA offers intensive training programs aimed at the full cultural development of the young artist, providing each student with a dynamic range of technical skills, coupled with that elusive quality known as the artist's "sensitivity of the soul," stated the website.

"We are committed to developing classical dancers that are capable of expressing powerful theatrical ideas in ballet through a rich knowledge of other artistic disciplines, culture and traditions," its website said.

Freeland will spend a total of five weeks in New York City.

Freeland started dancing when she was four at the Ballet Repertory Theater of New Mexico until she was eight. Since then she started taking dance classes with the Marshall's Performing Arts Conservatory and the New Mexico Ballet Company.

Freeland said she does a lot of different styles of dancing from hip-hop to tap, but her favorite style of dancing is ballet.

"I want to be a professional dance and have a career out of it," said Freeland. "I enjoy dancing because I can escape to a different world and dancing allows me to express myself.

"I can dance whatever I feel and no one will judge me because I just love to do it."

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