Hair wrapped tightly in a bun, senior Lily Bines dips the tips of her pointe shoes into the rosin box to prevent slipping as she runs through the dance piece in her head for a final time. Music turns on. It’s just another regular ballet class en pointe during the Boston Ballet Summer Dance Program she attended last summer. This time, however, a group of judges are watching.
Bines was auditioning for the highly competitive, full-year Pre-Professional Program at the Boston Ballet School.
The following week, the Boston Ballet School sent Bines an acceptance letter. It was then that she began to consider dance as an occupation.
“I don’t think it ever dawned on me as a career path,” Bines said. “Dance is something that I enjoy. It’s not something I think of as a job.”
Before she accepted the offer, Bines first discussed going to Boston Ballet School instead of attending Hockaday for her senior year with her parents. Since Lily is the oldest child, Audrey Bines ‘88, Lily’s mother, had concerns about Lily leaving home before college.
“I wasn’t prepared for Lily to leave early,” Mrs. Bines said. “At the same time, I was very excited for her because it was her dream.”
Since Bines had set her mind to going to Boston, Mrs. Bines discussed with Head of Upper School Terry Murray the possibility of Lily graduating from Hockaday even if she was going to be away from school during her senior year.
Working with the Bines family, Murray, along with other administrators including Interim Eugene McDermott Headmistress Liza Lee, created an academic plan for her, based on the same circumstances as a year-away program. Thus, while Bines attends the Boston Ballet Pre-Professional Program, she is able to take courses through the Online School for Girls in order to meet the necessary requirements for graduation. In addition, Bines can return to Hockaday to attend Winter Formal and prom and also walk down graduation terrace in May.
“As a school, we want to support Lily in the best way we can,” Murray said. “She has a unique opportunity to follow a passion and potential career.”
Even though Bines will receive her GED diploma from Hockaday and send in college applications, her main focus right now is dancing since she wants to pursue a professional dance career with the help of the Boston Ballet Pre-Professional Program.
During the year at the Boston Ballet School, Bines has two performances: the Nutcracker and NextGen, a graduation performance with solo and group pieces featuring Pre-Professional students with Boston Ballet II at the Boston Opera House in late spring. Additionally, at the end of the year, she will audition for the trainee program, a two-year dance program which helps students get ready to audition for dance companies at Boston Ballet as well as other ballet schools.
However, Bines understands the difficulty of pursuing dance as a career. “It’s scary because there are so many people going for the same thing,” Bines said. “The likelihood of you getting the same spot as someone who is just as good as you is hard to tell.”
If Bines does earn a spot in a trainee program, she might defer from college for a year or begin her college degree online. But, once she finishes dance, she would still like to go to college because to her, a college education is important.
And Mrs. Bines has the same concerns about a life in dance.
“Every parent wants to make sure that their children can take care of themselves and provide for themselves and someday for themselves,” Mrs. Bines said. “[Her father and I] felt strongly that she had to finish her education for high school.”
However, Boston Ballet School Director Margaret Tracey took a specific interest in Lily and convinced her parents that attending the Pre-Professional Program was the right decision.
“Boston Ballet is Lily’s dream company, and [her dad and I] knew we had to let her pursue it even if it meant missing out on her senior year,” Mrs. Bines said.
Bines’ schedule is packed. After academic classes in the morning, she attends mandatory dance classes, such as ballet technique, modern and character. These are held generally in the afternoon from Monday to Saturday and take anywhere between 18 to over 23 hours each week.
Although Bines will miss the senior experience at Hockaday, she is firm in her choice. “This is what I want to do,” Bines said. “Even though it’s a hard decision, I know it’s the right decision.”
– Maria Harrison – Asst. Features Editor