Ketten dances through Nashville

Published 9:54 pm Monday, October 24, 2016

Suffolk’s Josephine Ketten was among the students selected for the School of Nashville Ballet’s prestigious Summer Intensive program. More than 310 students from 33 states, Brazil and Canada participated in this year’s program.

“It was really fun and educational,” Ketten said. “I enjoyed all of it.”

This summer, the school hosted eight sessions for students 11 and older, for periods ranging between one to five weeks. The entire program was done in-house.

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To get into the program, students had to audition at select sites around the country and then participate in smaller group auditions. Ketten, 17, a Nansemond River High and Governor’s School of the Arts student, auditioned at a Pittsburgh location.

Two of Ketten’s classmates were also admitted into the program.

Nick Mullikin, director of the school, said Ketten’s “passion for her work,” impressed him and the staff.

During the course of the program, students were exposed to a variety of dance and teaching styles. Beginning in June, Ketten’s session lasted five weeks, which demanded seven hours a day, six days a week.

However, Ketten assured “it wasn’t that bad.”

This year was Mullikin’s first as program director, and he admitted there were some “challenge with logistics.” However, he said, “overall it went well.”

Mullikin has been involved in ballet since he was two, as a dancer and administrator.

Through the years, he has noticed students always improve and learn a lot from the program.

“Instructors can pull new things out of them,” he said. “They leave with a greater passion for their work and explore what it means to be an artist.”

“It’s one of my favorite times of the year, to see the students grow so fast.”

Ketten said she “definitely” grew as an artist despite being a ballerina for 13 to 14 years.

“It’s great to go to a different setting where everyone learns something new,” she said.

At the conclusion the program, 110 students from the sessions were selected to incorporate what they had learned into a finale performance.

“It was really neat,” Mullikin said.

Ketten thoroughly enjoyed the program and recommended it to her classmates.

“It was probably my favorite intensive,” she said.

Founded in 1986, the School of Nashville Ballet has become Tennessee’s largest professional ballet company. For more information about the Summer Intensive program, visit