American Ballet Theatre typically schedules a long layoff after its marathon season at the Metropolitan Opera House, a moment for its tired artists to breathe. But Skylar Brandt doesn’t really do downtime.
After moving out of the Met’s basement dressing rooms each July, she books sessions with her coaches, the former ABT stars Irina Dvorovenko and Maxim Beloserkovsky; finds a willing partner (“I usually go for the younger guys,” Brandt says, “who don’t mind lifting on repeat”); and heads back to the studio. It’s time to rehearse the principal roles she mightbe considered for the following season.
“Everyone else is on the sofa eating bagels,” Dvorovenko says, “and she’s with us two to three hours every day for weeks. ‘Let’s do Swan Lake for fun! Let’s do Corsaire for fun!’ “
Brandt’s single-mindedness powers a prodigious technique. Her followers on Instagram and TikTok know the impossible solidity of her balance, the ease with which she can sail through six (or seven, or eight) pirouettes. She performs with an assurance rooted in her exhaustive preparation. Onstage, she is all sparkle and brilliance, every facet honed and polished. “Her security and confidence out there give you a sense of peace,” says friend and fellow ABT dancer Connor Holloway.
Of course, there was no Met season last year. There won’t be one this year, either. But Brandt, who achieved principal-dancer status during a Zoom meeting last September, hasn’t eased up during quarantine. Though ABT has only partially returned to its studios, Brandt’s coaching sessions with Dvorovenko and Beloserkovsky have continued (they’ve formed a COVID-19 “microbubble”). Preparing for hypothetical future performances is familiar territory for her.