Sara Ezzell and Adrian Blake Mitchell – December 2013 Judges’ Choice Winner

Adrian and I feel so much gratitude in receiving this scholarship.  Thank you for your support and recognition. Both of us have had adventurous dance upbringings, and the next step of our education continues in that spirit. Through the 2013 Daytona Beach Summer Intensive, Adrian and I had the honor of meeting dance legend Oleg Vinogradov, former Artistic Director of the Mariinsky Theatre. After watching us dance, Mr. Vinogradov invited us to come perform with his small company in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Along with other repertoire, Mr. Vinogradov suggested we perform Barber’s Adagio, one of his own works that we had fallen in love with, and the romantic classics Giselle and Chopiniana. One of our wonderful teachers, Erin Forrest, choreographed a pas de deux tribute to 9/11 that Mr. Vinogradov also invited us to perform in Russia. To meet Mr. Vinogradov was a privilege. To receive this invitation from him was incredible. Since then, Adrian and I have been doing everything possible to fund this trip. Every penny is a blessing, and we deeply value Harlequin Floor’s contribution in shaping our futures.

We feel very fortunate to be the students of Edward Ellison and Erin Forrest of Ellison Ballet. Mr. Ellison teaches to give everything to dance, to empty oneself into every movement. Adrian and I both sought out Mr. Ellison’s training for his strong Vaganova technique, but Mr. Ellison’s strengths as a teacher reach beyond mechanics. Mr. Ellison demonstrates with so much feeling and passion. He inspires us to explore the depths of our own artistic expression.  He is also a caring mentor, supporting us in breaking through every obstacle. Working for technical mastery, embracing art within form, and developing a professional work ethic have become our daily practice. We have learned that every day is an opportunity to honor this art form.  

Adrian Blake Mitchell began his formal dance training in Los Angeles, California. At 15, Adrian moved down south to study at the Houston Ballet Academy. Sara Ezzell trained for 10 years at the Classical Ballet Academy of Minnesota led by the wonderful Cheryl and Andrew Rist, who nurtured her love of dance.  Both Sara and Adrian moved to NYC and joined the Gelsey Kirkland Academy in its inaugural year. After a year and half, Adrian and Sara took the opportunity to train with Vaganova style master, Edward Ellison, and have studied with him for almost two years.