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Where in the World is Ilse Kapteyn?
delaney berman 12 ritchey howe 12 staff writers
November 10, 2011

“I’ve only seen one or two dancers in twenty-three years of her caliber…and that other dancer was her sister,” said Director of Dance Jennifer Whitcomb of former student Ilse Kapteyn ’12.

This summer, Kapteyn journeyed to Russia along with her sister Ingrid Kapteyn ’09, Nina Shevzov-Zebrun ’12, and other dancers from East Street Ballet in Hadley, MA, to study at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy. Kapteyn’s teacher from East Street, Irina Vakhromeeva, arranged the two-week trip. During the visit, some of the school’s year-round faculty observed Kapteyn in her classes and invited her to come back to train for the entire year.

“Ilse went to the summer program with the hopes of earning a spot in the Academy’s program for international students. After this year, Ilse can audition with the main Russian section of the Bolshoi. I am so happy for her,” gushed Shevzov-Zebrun.

Ilse is the daughter of Kirsten Kapteyn, Bement School faculty member, and the late Jamie Kapteyn, who was a member of the Deerfield English faculty.

When Kapteyn’s mother was asked if she was at all hesitant about letting her daughter leave high school to focus completely on her ballet training, Mrs. Kapteyn replied, “Yes, I was worried about her leaving Deerfield and taking time off to train before finishing high school, especially as she probably will not go to college in the near future if this year of training is successful and prepares her to jump right into a career as a ballet dancer in a professional company either abroad or here, as she hopes.”

Explaining how she was able to let go of Ilse, Mrs. Kapteyn explained, “With the encouragement of several wise Deerfield faculty members, within a few days of our return from Russia in August, I had overcome my conventional fears and threw myself completely behind the idea. Ilse needs to follow this dream of hers.”

Kapteyn aspires to be a professional ballerina. “Like many young dancers, Ilse’s ultimate dream is to dance for ABT (American Ballet Theatre) in New York City,” Mrs. Kapteyn elaborated.

In addition to daily ballet and pointe classes, Kapteyn participates in more specialized classes focused on historical dance forms, character dance, acting, choreography, and stretching for a total of about seven hours a day. Kapteyn is also studying Russian daily and hopes to be fluent by the end of the year.

Although the Deerfield dance program has certainly lost an incredibly talented senior ballerina, Ms. Whitcomb and Kapteyn’s peers are happy for her. Ms. Whitcomb noted that “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Her time is now.”

Editor’s Note: Ilse Kapteyn could not be reached for an interview due to internet issues in Russia.