Hello American Ballet Theatre
Kiely Groenewegen is one of 10 graduates profiled in our 2018 Full-Time Studies Guide.
Where are you from?
Williamstown, Melbourne. I started my training at the local ballet school with Christine Bowman (Westpointe Ballet Academy), at the age of three.
Where did you undertake your full-time training?
At the age of 15 I was accepted into Australian Conservatoire of Ballet (ACB), in the first year of their full time course. At the end of my first year and with the support and guidance of ACB, I was accepted to be a semi-finalist at the Prix De Lausanne. While there I was offered a full scholarship to the Royal Ballet School (RBS), beginning in September of 2013.
What level of education had you attained before beginning your full-time training?
I had completed all my RAD exams except for Advanced 2 and Solo Seal. I completed my Advanced 2 exam by doing extra classes during the first half year of my full time training at ACB. I completed school at Westbourne Grammar to Year 9, and then did maths and Japanese via distance education to Year 11 level. I also did an A Level in English while at the Royal Ballet School.
Was it a big change to move into fulltime studies?
I remember being very tired during my first year. It was a lot more than I was used to doing. Then going home at night and doing distance education I found slightly overwhelming. I was very lucky to be still living at home during this transition, as being able to talk to my family and have their support was invaluable.
What were the most important benefits of your studies?
The full time training allowed me to build the strength and discipline as well as to finesse technique and ballet knowledge that I now know is needed to be ready to join a company. I was very lucky that all of my teachers were former professional dancers, so not only did they pass on vast amounts of knowledge but also information on company and theatre etiquette.
ACB provided me with the knowledge and support to know what to do next and put me on the right path to a professional career. The RBS completed my education and put me in a position where I could watch and learn from one of the world's best professional ballet companies, and teachers who had danced with the company.
Being exposed to the training at the RBS was constantly awe-inspiring. I realised it was important to be able to step outside of the environment and remember just what an opportunity I had been given.
How quickly did you gain employment upon graduation?
Before graduating, the RBS graduates and American Ballet Theatre Studio Company do an exchange and host a series of performances. Through this exchange I was offered a job with the Studio Company, which I accepted. Graduation was at the end of June and in September I moved to New York and after nine months with the Studio Company became an apprentice with American Ballet Theatre. I was promoted to corps de ballet in December, 2017.
My current job
I am currently two weeks into my second “Met” season. This is the hardest part of the year for the company; we are performing at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York for eight weeks of eight different ballets. At the same time as we are performing we are also rehearsing all day to get a completely different ballet ready for the following week. It is tiring and slightly stressful but extraordinarily rewarding. After a week of Giselle followed by a week of Firebird and AfterRITE (a new piece choreographed by Wayne McGregor), we now head into a week of La Bayadere, which is one of this company's most sacred ballets.
ABT is such a lovely company - warm and friendly. Not only do I have supportive colleagues, I also get to watch and learn from some of the world's most amazing and inspiring past and present dancers.
Read more graduate stories in our August-September issue. Buy a copy from your favourite retail outlet or subscribe here.