The photo of Máire at the Youth America Grand Prix competition in January 2013 was taken while she was dancing the solo contemporary ballet piece that she choreographed called La Valse d'Amélie. She also performed this piece at the Ballet, Broadway, Bollywood! show last month.
Story last updated at 6/26/2013 - 1:42 pm
Máire New's poise extends far beyond the dance floor. She's 16 and about to enter her junior year of high school in Juneau. Máire is a young woman who is driven to be part of a career that is known for requiring total commitment.
"I aspire to become a professional ballerina," she said.
As the recipient of a NSLI for Youth scholarship, Máire will have the opportunity to deepen her study with six-weeks of intensive dance and language instruction at the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow. Máire is one of 15 students selected from a pool of hundreds of applicants all over the country. To qualify, students had to show they possessed academic rigor and a passion and aptitude for dance.
Máire is relatively new to ballet. In elementary school, she studied highland dance, taking classes, competing, winning, awards, and participating in festivals with her family who has Scottish ancestry. Máire's dad and younger brother both play the bagpipes. In 2009, she decided that she wanted to expand her knowledge of dance to other forms. She found a connection to ballet and progressed quickly through the course levels making up for lost time.
"I had never taken a ballet class before and at 12 years old I was a very late starter," she said. "My highland dance experience helped my ballet, and in less than a year I moved up to Ballet IV, the most advanced level at Juneau Dance Unlimited."
In 2011, just two years after her first ballet class, Máire started dancing en pointe. That summer she attended her first intensive ballet camp at the Joffrey Ballet School in New York City. Máire sees the rigorous and strict form of ballet as an avenue to creative expression.
"Some people enjoy modern dance because they feel so much freedom from it, but I really enjoy ballet because of the challenge of being free while also being confined to certain positions and movements, and I think finding the way to express myself within those movements is what is so fun and fascinating," she said.
Máire has a holistic approach to dance enjoying everything about it.
"I take joy in learning about dance history and can spend hours pouring over ballet videos and documentaries," she said.
In addition to performing and competing, Máire has begun to study choreography. In 2012 and again this spring, Máire choreographed contemporary solo pieces for the Youth Grand Prix, a world dance competition. She placed in the top 12 in both years.
The NSLI for Youth scholarship is designed by the U.S. Department of State and the Bureau of Educational and Cultural affairs to encourage cross cultural understanding and engagement. The program is world-wide and more than 600 American youth will travel to various countries to learn new languages and study.
"Máire will live at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy during the week and with a host family on the weekends," said her mother, Diana Rossmiller.
U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul is quoted on the Bolshoi Ballet Academy website saying, "I can't stress enough how important these exchanges are in building a strong relationship between our countries... These exchanges provide academic opportunities for students in all fields. But indirectly, they also help to undermine stereotypes."
Máire looks forward to intense language study. She heard some Russian last summer when she spent six weeks in New York City studying at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy Summer Intensive.
"Last year, every class was taught in Russian," she said. "I really enjoyed it, and loved hearing the intricacies of the language every day. I am so excited to learn more this summer!"
Máire has a deep appreciation and understanding for dance that goes beyond skillful execution. She finds a connection between the Russian language and dance, "Russian is very musical and helped me comprehend the timing and execution of a variety of classical variations."
When asked if dancing gets in the way of a typical teenage life, Máire doesn't think so. She says she has lots of friends who dance, and she said, "I can always find time for my friends and family."
Máire hopes that her continued training and intense study as well as her passion for her craft will give her the edge she needs to make it in the tough world of professional dance. She knows it takes more than just skill.
"I believe that many people are capable of dancing with masterful technique but what makes one dancer truly memorable is the soul that she infuses into the movement," she said.