When former international ballet star Jean-Hugues Feray decided to open his own dance school in Jupiter, FL, in early 2009, the Keavy family noticed.
The family immediately recognized Feray from his years dancing professionally with the original Ballet Florida, and they quickly enrolled their then-four-year-old daughter Clare in dance classes at his new school. Their daughter quickly fell in love with ballet, and today – after 13 years of training with Feray at his now-renowned Paris Ballet and Dance – Clare, now 17, has earned a coveted trainee spot at The Sarasota Ballet.
“I am so proud that one of Paris Ballet’s very first ballet students has earned such a prestigious training spot with a major ballet company,” Feray said. “It’s wonderful to see one of my students come full circle like this. Clare is incredibly motivated and talented, and I can’t wait to see where her professional career takes her.”
The Sarasota Ballet was founded in 1987, and is a full resident professional ballet company with an expansive repertoire that has earned international acclaim. With rave reviews in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Dance Europe and Dancing Times, The Sarasota Ballet has been invited to perform at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and at City Center and the Joyce Theater in New York City, among others. The Sarasota Ballet’s Trainee Program offers talented students a well-rounded curriculum designed to prepare them for their next steps in their dance careers.
Clare said, “The Sarasota Ballet’s repertoire is really amazing. I’m really excited to start dancing with the Trainee Program and am so grateful for this incredible opportunity to begin my professional career here in Florida.”
When Clare was cast as Clara at age nine in Paris Ballet’s annual production of The Nutcracker, she said she know that she would want to pursue a career as a professional ballerina. When she was in eighth grade, she began training through Paris Ballet’s Paris Ballet Conservatory, an elite accelerated training program for students preparing for professional dance careers. She has spent the past four years averaging about 20 hours per week of rigorous dance training with Paris Ballet. Clare has excelled academically as well; she completed her schoolwork (through Florida Virtual School’s flex program) at such an accelerated pace that she graduated high school a full year early this month.
“It’s been great growing up with Mr. Jean as my mentor,” Clare said, referring to the name many students call Feray. “He has guided me every step of the way and has taught me so much. His training has given me the best opportunities and prepared me for the next steps in my career.”
In addition to the role of Clara, other favorite roles through her years with Paris Ballet have included the Sugar Plum Fairy, Black Swan, White Swan, Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother and dancing the famed pas de deux from Le Corsaire and pas de trois from Swan Lake. She has attended summer programs in France at the Stage International de Danse in Arcachon and the Paris Opera Ballet School, as well as Paris Ballet’s summer and winter intensives, and has placed annually in the famed Youth America Grand Prix international ballet competition. She also received offers from Nashville Ballet and Milwaukee Ballet, but ultimately decided The Sarasota Ballet was the best fit.
This summer, Clare will head to Sarasota, where she has earned a full scholarship to The Sarasota Ballet’s summer program before starting the trainee program in the fall.
And her family is exceptionally proud.
“The training that Clare has received at Paris Ballet has been incomparable,” said her mother, Christi Keavy. “Jean-Hugues Feray’s dedication and instruction enabled Clare to get a world-class dance education right here in Jupiter. Clare has received numerous scholarships through the years, has had her pick from prestigious trainee programs and is now on her way to a professional career — all because of the amazing training and mentorship she received at Paris Ballet and Dance and the Paris Ballet Conservatory.”
Clare can be seen performing at the Kravis Center during Paris Ballet’s final performance of the season on June 11, at 7:30pm, during a mixed bill end-of-year showcase featuring ballet, modern, contemporary, neoclassical, jazz and tap.
Feray said, “I’d love to invite everyone to attend our June performance at the Kravis Center to see our incredible students perform, including Clare and other seniors who are starting their professional careers. It’s a wonderful opportunity to see our students on stage locally before they join professional ballet companies or colleges with renowned dance programs.”
Tickets to Paris Ballet’s June performance at the Kravis Center are currently on sale. All tickets are $35. For tickets and more information, visit Kravis.org.