Seeing 17-year-old Makensie Howe dance is like experiencing pure joy.
As a dancer, Howe is strong, fluid, and full of expression. Watching her, it’s evident that she works as hard to hone her acting skills as she does at perfecting her movements.
Howe, who has been training with Alexandra Ballet in Chesterfield, MO, since she was 12, says she’s learned that while technical proficiency is important, it’s often a dancer’s artistry and ability to emote that sets him or her apart.
Howe says her favorite dancer today is Julie Kent of the American Ballet Theatre. “When she’s on stage, you can’t take your eyes off her,” she says. “I hope to be just like her.”
Before she begins learning a new part, Howe says she researches what the story is about to try to figure out how the character would be feeling.
“I’m almost addicted to watching ballet videos on YouTube,” Howe says. “I research as much as I can about that particular character.”
Howe says one of her favorite roles has been dancing the part of Kitri from Don Quixote. “It was a fun piece where you could really express yourself and get into your character,” she says.
Most recently, Howe and her partner, Dillon Malinski, 18, performed the third act pas de deux from La Fille Mal Gardée at the 2011 Youth America Grand Prix in New York City, held March 21-23.
One of the world’s oldest ballets, La Fille Mal Gardée (literally translated as “The Girl Who is Badly Guarded”) is about a girl who is love with a farmer boy, but the girl’s mother doesn’t want them to be together. In Act III, the lovers are finally able to marry, and Howe says as she was rehearsing the part, she tried to imagine how happy she’d feel if she were united with the man of her dreams.
This is the second time Howe and Malinski competed at the Youth America Grand Prix. In 2010, Howe ranked in the top 20 overall and in the top 12 among contemporary and classical female dancers.
Howe says she loves training in both contemporary and classical ballet. “It’s really enjoyable to have a change of pace,” says Howe, who squeezes in a contemporary class every Thursday.
Howe’s training schedule is rigorous. She takes a 90-minute class, followed by one to two hours of rehearsal every day, except Fridays and Sundays, when she takes the day off.
To keep herself strong outside of ballet class, Howe also works with an exercise band, does sit ups, and practices Pilates at home. “It really keeps you toned and strong,” she says.
A devoted Russian Pointe fan for the last four years, Howe practically lives in her Russian Pointe shoes. She wears the Dolce model in the Classic Collection, which she orders with the V3 vamp.
“I love that they are sturdy,” Howe says of her Russian Pointes. “I can wear them for many rehearsals. Other brands go dead after one or two rehearsals.”
Howe says she breaks the box in a little bit before she wears them and jet glues them to make them last longer, which enables her to only have to get one new pair of shoes every month. And she says she loves the aesthetic beauty of the Dolce shoes. “I like that it has a really tapered toe because it makes for a cleaner, more precise line.
Despite her extensive training schedule, Howe still manages to have time study, hang out with her friends and family and sing in the choir at Fox High School in Arnold, MO. “I like that it’s yet another way to express myself,” she says of choir.
Since Howe is now a senior in high school, she is now preparing for her final months at home before she moves to Houston, where she and Malinski will both be joining The Houston Ballet 2 for the 2011-2012 season.
Howe says she was thrilled when she auditioned for the company earlier this year and was accepted. She says she is looking forward to truly becoming a professional ballet dancer.
“This is what I love and my dream,” she says.
Photos courtesy of Tynetta Chastain. All rights reserved.
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