Photo Credit: Alison Stroming by Collette Muk
The thought of navigating the ballet world alone can be overwhelming to any aspiring dancer. In order to find your place as a professional ballet dancer, it's almost a necessity to have someone to go to for advice. Fortunately, professional ballet dancer, Alison Stroming, was lucky enough to have role models in every stage of her life. Given her success in the dance industry, Stroming was compelled to give back by becoming a role model to the next generation of aspiring ballet dancers. Stroming's mentorship program, AS Mentorship, allows her to build one-on-one relationships with 15 young, aspiring dancers over a calendar year. Her goal for this program is to help all of her mentees believe that they can achieve their dancing dreams.
I recently got the chance to speak with Stroming about her inspiration for starting AS Mentorship and about one of her dance role models, the one and only Misty Copeland.
1. What process do you go through to choose your mentees for AS Mentorship?
I announced my mentorship program on social media and posted an online application form including questions about applicants' training, goals, and aspirations. When the applications started to roll in, I was happy to see some familiar names of girls that I had either taught in master classes or I recognized from my classes during the Break the Floor convention. I actually received 92 applications over the course of two weeks! During my first cut, I narrowed the group down to about 30 girls and held one-on-one video meetings with them. From there, I finally selected my group of 15 girls! It definitely wasn’t an easy process, but I believe each of the girls I selected show tremendous potential, maturity, and showmanship. I am truly looking forward to hopefully making this experience as rewarding as possible. I know its going to be an incredible year!
Photo Credit: Alison Stroming by Collette Muk
2. What are some of the activities that mentees will experience while in the program?
Well, there are a few surprises that I cannot mention yet, but some of the activities will include photo shoots, workshops, and retreats! However, the most important part of my mentorship program is building one-on-one relationships with each girl. I have made it a priority to hold monthly private video conferences (particularly for those outside of California) where we can just catch up and get to know each other. I talk to the girls about things like setting goals, dance, and critiques. Again, this program is primarily about how I can share my knowledge, educate, and help guide my mentees to whatever they aspire to achieve.
3. What inspired you to start a mentorship program?
In every stage of my life, I've been lucky enough to have had many role models. It is so special to have someone invest their time, energy, and just to be there for you every step of the way. Now, as a professional dancer, it's so rewarding to pay it forward and serve as a role model to these girls. I also wanted to create a platform for my dancewear line because it is not just about the dancewear, but also the impact. So, that's how my mentorship program was developed.
4. Who was your mentor when you were an aspiring professional dancer?
One of my biggest role models and mentor growing up was the incomparable Misty Copeland. I remember watching her in awe in the studios at American Ballet Theatre as I was a student in the JKO School. I would always peek into the company’s rehearsals and try to find her!
I finally met Misty when I was 15-years-old as I was getting a drink at the water fountain. I turned around and she was there waiting and said, “hey girl!” and my mouth dropped. From then on, she took me under her wing and nurtured me, but more importantly I was given much needed information as to who I was as a dancer and how to go about finding my place. Having her as a mentor helped mold and shape my young dance mind and gave me the confidence I needed to be the dancer and woman that I am today. Still to this day, I refer to her for advice and she always finds some time to invest in me, which means more than anything!
Photo Credit: Alison Stroming
2019-2020 AS Mentees:
Josabella, Morton, Delaney Diaz, Iliana Victor, Bella Jones, Olivia Beauchamp, Sienna Smith, Isabella (Izzy) Keesee, Emma Grisham, Addyson Smith, Suvannah Hunter, Sophia Grace Capecci, Audrey Mayernik, and our three youngest (all 8-years-old), Maia Smyl, Kennedy Rae Thompson, and Bailey Toney.
You can follow all of the AS Mentees on social media and learn more about AS Mentorship at https://www.alisonstroming.com/as-mentorship .