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Orlando dancer Blake Kessler will attend the Paris Opera Ballet School this summer (Richard Finkelstein ) 2014


By Matthew J. Palm
The Orlando Sentinel
June 27, 2014



[Orlando, Florida, USA] – Orlando dancer Blake Kessler, 16, has won a scholarship to the Joffrey Ballet School from the 2014 USA International Ballet Competition, which ended Thursday. The world-renowned Joffrey Ballet, based in Chicago, has offered Kessler a full scholarship for its 2015 summer program with the option of continuing into the corps’ trainee program

But, in an embarrassment of riches, Kessler is already committed other prestigious programs. Next week he will be attending the Paris Opera School in France on a full scholarship, which he won this year at the Youth America Grand Prix competition in New York, reports Dierdre Miles Burger, head of the Orlando Ballet School, where he studies. From there, he goes to San FranciscoHYPERLINK \l “” Ballet where he will attend the summer program on full scholarship and stay as a trainee for the 2014-2015 season — another honor that he received at the Grand Prix.

“He is honored to be awarded the offer from Joffrey,” Burger says, “but has already committed to the position in San Francisco.”

Kessler was among 31 dancers who performed classical and contemporary routines at the final round of the USA International Ballet competition, which takes place every four years in Jackson, Miss. More than 300 applied to compete; Kessler won in the male junior division.

He told competition officials his favorite role thus far has been performing as Franz in the Orlando Ballet II production of “Coppelia.” Orlando Ballet II is the junior division of Orlando Ballet.

“In the next three years I would love to be in a company, and the San Francisco Ballet would probably be my first choice,” Kessler says.

Audiences here might have seen him as one of the three youngsters dancing a spirited trio in Orlando Ballet’s production of “Vampire’s Ball.”

Although he says he prefers classical technique to contemporary, he has been lauded in both areas. He practices six hours daily, and already has acquired a string of accolades.

This spring, he placed third at the Youth America Grand Prix competition in his division, notable as he was on the young end of the eligible 15-19 age range. The YAGP is a well-known yearly worldwide dance competition with finals in New York City.

In 2013, he won a gold medal with fellow Orlando Ballet School students Jessica Assef and Mario Chimal in the ensembles category at the Youth America Grand Prix.

[As] a 14-year-old, in 2012, Kessler won the Junior Grand Prix award there — the top award for all dancers in the 12-14 age bracket. With that honor, he received a full scholarship to the summer session of the Royal Ballet Company in London.

Kessler shared his tips for success with officials at the USA International Ballet Competition: Work hard, even if tired, and always listen to instructions from dance teachers — a nice tribute to his instructors at Orlando Ballet School.


Copyright 2014 Orlando Sentinel


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