Aliza Breakey-Ways


Aliza Breakey-Ways stands in Chicago on audition day. Each audition was an hour and a half, and typically less intensive than an actual ballet class.

Looking through the massive windows of Joffrey Tower onto the bustling city of Chicago, Aliza Breakey-Ways laced up her pointe shoes and prepared to audition for the Boston Ballet’s summer intensive program.

After dancing for many years, Breakey-Ways has done many auditions before, so some of the anxiety has faded. Many of the auditions seemed to her as if they followed the same pattern, her feeling to be in the lower percentile of dancers there.

She danced for another ballet’s auditions the night prior, so the feeling in her stomach was familiar. She walked across the marley and faced the mirrors of the Hubbard Street Dance studio, an audition for Harid’s summer program. Doing what she loved, with a certain lack of competition.

“It’s less nerve-racking when you know you’re not really in the running,” Breakey-Ways said. “It’s more for fun, and to have the experience of going to the audition.”

Still mildly nervous, dancing in a foreign studio with an unfamiliar teacher, Breakey-Ways warmed up alongside girls who dedicate their lives to these programs. She recalled knowing girls who dropped out of their high schools to attend these auditions, work each day to get one of the limited spots.

“I think it’s a lot hard for the girls who are close, like on the line of getting in or not getting in,” Breakey-Ways said. “That’s a much more stressful scenario versus where I’m at.”

She finished the audition and returned to Michigan, and — despite the longshot — hopes to receive a letter of acceptance.

“Ballet puts a lot of physical and mental pressure on you,” Breakey-Ways said. “But I don’t see that as a reason for me not to try hard, and push myself to the edge for each audition — no matter if I think I am good enough or not.”