Perspective: Interview with Master Ballet Academy Student, Summer Montenegro

Name: Summer Montenegro
Age: 14
Where do you currently live/train? Scottsdale, AZ; Master Ballet Academy
What kind of pointe shoes do you wear? Nikolay Katyas

How and when did you get your start in dance?
I was born with internally rotated feet, so my mom thought it was best to put me in dance. I also showed an interest in dance at a very young age; I would watch my older sister’s recital DVDs over and over and over again.

Can you tell us about your favorite experience at a competition or intensive?
My favorite experience at a competition was when my fellow dancers and I had a late group dance. All we ate was candy [before] which made us super hyper and energetic. The best experience I had at an intensive was when I attended Brea Space Contemporary Intensive in Brea, California.

What made the Brea Space Intensive such a great experience for you? 
The support that everyone gave to each other was the best part of the Brea Space intensive, and it was so inspirational!!


Do you have any funny (or embarrassing!) memories from the stage or studio?
While I was competing, the back of my costume came undone
during the middle of my contemporary solo. I also had a situation while dancing the Sugar Plum Fairy role in The Nutcracker at Ballet Mississippi. As soon as the pas began, the hooks on the bodice of my tutu came undone. This presented a serious and potentially dangerous situation for my partner and me.

Summer Montenegro © Jason Christie, Michael Kaiser, & Brittany Cashubec
Summer Montenegro © Jason Christie, Michael Kaiser, & Brittany Cashubec

How have you been able to keep up your technique over the past few months?
For the past few months, I have been doing strengthening and stretching exercises to keep up with my technique. I was also taking zoom classes and we turned one of the rooms in my house into a dance room. 

I noticed that you have some incredible videos on Instagram of your contemporary dancing; what styles of dance, other than ballet, do you enjoy, and why?
The other styles I enjoy doing other than ballet are contemporary, jazz, broadway, ballroom, tap, and flamenco. I enjoy doing these styles because they allow me to express myself in different ways.

What is one product in your dance bag that you can’t live without!?
One product in my dance bag that I can’t live without is my life-saving Jet Glue.

Summer Montenegro © Collette Mruk
Summer Montenegro © Collette Mruk

Is there anything special you do to prepare your pointe shoes before wearing them?
The special preparation I do before wearing my shoes is bending the shank, stepping on the box, and banging the shoes on the concrete to lessen the loud sound of landing from a jump.

What is an element in your technique that you would like to improve the most? What are you most proud of in your dancing?
Areas that I need to improve on are my feet and softening my neck. I am most proud of my strength, control, balance, and turns.

What are your favorite kind of turns?
My favorite kinds of turns are either a la seconde turns or fouettés.

What is something interesting that people might not know about you?
Something interesting about me is that I am ambidextrous. I write with my left hand, but I also use my right side in other areas.

What’s next for Summer? What are your short term and long term plans or goals?
My short terms goals consist of refining my technique and improving my movement. My long-term goal is to eventually get into a ballet and contemporary company.

Do you have any dream ballet or contemporary companies you'd love to work with? 
My dream ballet company is the Royal Ballet or Dutch National. At the moment, I do not have a contemporary company in mind yet.
Summer Montenegro © Eva Nys
Summer Montenegro © Eva Nys

Our mantra is #FeelGoodDanceBetter. What do you do as a dancer to take care of your body on a daily basis? 
My daily care consists of stretching and rolling out my muscles and an ab workout. When it comes to extremely sore days, I either go to the pool or take an Epsom salt bath.

What’s something you struggle with as a dancer?
Something I struggle with as a dancer is my stiffness in my arms and neck. Another struggle is being extremely hard on myself.

Who inspires you and why?
The ballerinas that inspire me are Adiarys Almeida, Natalia Osipova, Svetlana Zakharova, and Marianela Nunez. They are inspirational to me because the passion they have behind their dancing is just beautiful. Their technique and control while they dance amaze me every time. My contemporary inspirations are Autumn Miller, Bostyn Brown, Ella Horan, and many more. These dancers inspire me because of their uniqueness in their dancing.

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