Power and grace—these are two words seemingly at odds. While some might not consider the importance of the two together as a form of artistic expression, they are skills essential to dance. For Edina ballet dancer Maya Giron, it is something she loves to embody and perfect.
Last September Maya was cast as "Clara," the lead in the Twin Cities Ballet’s (TCB) A Minnesota Nutcracker. It was the second time the teen played the role. For Maya, performing is a thrilling experience. “I get a rush of excitement. I don’t actually get nervous anymore,” she says. Maya rehearsed every weekday and on weekends as opening night approached.
Maya has become well acquainted with the stage over the years. She’s performed in productions of Beauty & the Beast, Coppélia Nouveau, Narnia: The Ballet and Cinderella 1944: A Love Story. In past performances of A Minnesota Nutcracker, she’s played various characters: an angel, snowflake, a Spanish dancer, Mother Ginger and a soldier.
After Maya’s first time as Clara, she became an apprentice of the Twin Cities Ballet Company in January 2017. Maya began as a student of Ballet Royale Minnesota, TCB’s official school, starting in the fall of 2011.
Full of talent, the high school junior has been dancing for six years. “I lived in Europe for most of my life,” Maya says. “When I was really little I took a few classes, and when we moved here, I tried it again and I really liked it. I just stuck to it.”
The teen’s work has paid off. Last September company directors selected Maya for the 2018 Youth America Grand Prix Competition (YAGP), the world’s largest global dance competition for students. It was the second time Maya was selected, but the first time she chose to compete.
Every year, YAGP holds competitions in cities across the U.S. and internationally. Those selected go on to perform in the New York City finals in April. “If you make it, it gives you a great amount of exposure,” Maya says, as directors from well-known companies attend the finals.
Maya did a YAGP intensive in August, where she learned a few variations with a large group of dancers. She began training with a private instructor in September. Maya continued private lessons three times a week and had an additional YAGP rehearsal. “When I go on stage, I think people expect more than just steps from me. It’s really like acting. I think doing the steps without acting, there’s no purpose in doing that,” Maya says. She attended regional semifinals in Chicago in January, performing a Cupid variation and the challenging French piece La Fille Mal Gardée.
With ballet comes many challenges: injuries like bruised toenails and muscle tears, to immense work to improve technique. But none of that daunts Maya, who strives to turn her passion into a profession. “I definitely want to become a professional ballet dancer,” she says. Maya hopes to become part of a ballet company after high school while focusing on a college education. With power and grace, Maya dances into an incredibly bright future.