Beyond the Barre
PV freshman finds passion in ballet
March 1, 2020
The Summer Intensives at Boston Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, and American Ballet Theatre are all highly competitive dance programs, yet freshman Julianna Porrovecchio was accepted into all three of them for this upcoming summer.
“You have to send in an audition video to go to the [Boston Ballet] audition,” Porrovecchio said. “Then, you go to their separate audition to try out for their residential program.”
Porrovecchio took ballet and tap when she was 4 years old. Then, by the time she was 12, she was involved in jazz, hip hop, tap, musical theatre, ballet, and contemporary. At 13, she decided to focus only on ballet and started attending Petrov Ballet School, her current studio.
“I had a lot of tough times when I was around 8 to 10 years old, so dance became an outlet for me,” Porrovecchio said. “I started training harder and put in more hours towards dance instead of other activities. I fell in love with it.”
Although Porrovecchio started ballet at a young age, it was not until sixth to seventh grade that she started seriously training. Porrovecchio now trains for around four hours every day at her studio, Petrov Ballet School, which specializes in the Russian ballet technique. On the weekends, she rehearses for the studio’s spring gala, “Puss and Boots.” Four or five productions of the show will be put on in May. The dancers learn choreography before knowing their particular roles.
“My earliest day ends at 8 p.m., but most of the time we run late, so I get home around 8:40 p.m. on early days,” Porrovecchio said. “I have to sit down, eat quickly, and as I’m eating, I have to do homework.”
During the summer of 2018, Porrovecchio trained at Ballet Chicago and the Saratoga Summer Dance Intensive. In 2019, she trained at Kaatsbaan, Vail Valley Dance Intensive, and Manhattan Youth Ballet. Auditions for these programs are held in New York City, Miami, Houston, and Chicago. Porrovecchio drove to Washington, D.C. to try out for the School of American Ballet.
“You’re always on edge during the summer intensives because you only have a few weeks to pull it off,” Porrovecchio said. “Summer programs are attached to bigger companies. As a student, I need to get as much training as possible. When I’m 18 and trying out for companies, the fact that I trained with Boston Ballet will put me forward in my reputation.”
In addition to ballet, Porrovecchio also does cross-training, such as running and pilates, to make sure that she stays in shape.
“I have really flexible ankles, which means that they are very bendy and almost weak, so every day, I have to do exercises to strengthen my ankles,” Porrovecchio said. “One wrong move and I could literally bend over my shoe. When you have all that pressure on your foot, they are the hardest things to work with.”
Since Porrovecchio will be participating in a residential program over the summer, she will be living on a school campus. If she ever does a residential program during the school year, she will most likely have to start online school due to the intense training schedule. For now, she is staying with her current dance teacher at Petrov Ballet School in Waldwick because she wanted to spend her first high school year at Pascack Valley.
“Next year, I may try out for Boston and see where it lands me,” Porrovecchio said. “Even for HARID, which is all the way in Florida, I’d have to go there, live down there, and have an online school down there.”
The biggest performance Porrovecchio has done so far was the spring gala at her studio with students of all different ages. This past winter, Porrovecchio also participated in a stage production of “The Nutcracker” in upstate New York. Porrovecchio was cast as a part of a Spanish trio, the snow corps, and the flower corps.
Liliana Reilly, a fellow dancer at Petrov, said Porrovecchio is “extremely talented” after dancing with her for a year. At the studio’s gala, the two are going to be “palace people” in Petrov’s production of “Puss and Boots.”
“[Porrovecchio is] really funny and always knows how to put a smile on your face,” Reilly said. “She’s very supportive. You can always count on her to make you laugh. She’s a good [person] to have with you.”
In the future, Porrovecchio hopes to become a classical ballerina.
“I love ballet — I really do,” Porrovecchio said. “I hope that I can eventually do online school and maybe focus just on dance. Of course, sometimes it doesn’t work out. I’m trying to balance school and dance, and at some point in my life, probably next year, it’s going to tip.”