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September 11, 2023

Two AHA Students Advance Their Ballet Technique at Summer Intensive

Academy of the Holy Angels students (and sisters) Aiko and Emma Chang spent part of the summer break working on their dance technique at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy Summer Intensive. This three-week program for advanced ballet dancers from all over the world was held in New York City from late June through mid-July. Participants took classes, performed, and received expert assessments as they worked on their skills and musicality. Attendees range in age from 15 to 22, and must audition.


“These auditions are divided into age groups, and dancers essentially take a ballet class in these groups while being assessed by judges,” Aiko explained. “I have previously participated in this program (2019, 2020-virtually, 2021), and I auditioned for, and got accepted for, the 2022 summer. However, the program was paused in solidarity with Ukraine during the escalation of the Russian-Ukrainian war at the time. So, my acceptance from 2022 got rolled over into 2023, and I was invited to participate in the program this year.”


Aiko (AHA ’24) has been studying ballet for 15 years. Emma (AHA ’27) started 11 years ago. Both sisters take lessons at a local studio.

“I most enjoy the artistic expression that comes from ballet,” Aiko shared. “Being able to express emotions and stories without the use of any words is very special and unique to me. Moreover, I enjoy being a part of the ballet community, which is very well connected. Ballet has been used in the past to foster relationships and connections across countries and cultures during times of conflict, since it is an art form that goes beyond language barriers. Taking that history into account makes being part of the ballet community all the more special. I have met so many amazing artists throughout the years, and getting to know them has expanded my perspective and helped me grow as a person and as an artist. Interacting with international ballet students during this year’s BBASI program has been especially impactful for me.” She added, “I was also able to get a new perspective on language learning since I was able to practice using the Russian language with some of the ballet dancers who came from the Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Moscow as I was learning the language.”


Emma, a 2023 graduate of AHA Middle School, is entering ninth grade at AHA Upper School.


“I enjoy so many aspects of ballet,” Emma said. “I find that the challenge and difficulty of ballet give me an opportunity to focus on constantly working toward something. In a way, this is very satisfying. There is always something more to accomplish and I have the chance to push to my fullest potential where I decide my limit. It is hard to describe, but it is so fulfilling. Also, the feeling of performing onstage provides a joy that is indescribable for me. There is just nothing quite as passionate and refined as ballet.”


Founded by the School Sisters of Notre Dame in 1879, the Academy of the Holy Angels is the oldest private girls’ school in Bergen County. While AHA is steeped in Catholic tradition, this prestigious school serves young women from a broad spectrum of cultural and religious backgrounds. Over time, thousands of women have passed through AHA’s portals. Many go on to study at some of the nation’s best universities, earning high-ranking positions in medicine, government, law, education, public service, business, arts, and athletics. The Academy’s current leaders continue to further the SSND mission to provide each student with the tools she needs to reach the fullness of her potential—spiritually, intellectually, socially, and physically, by offering a first-rate education in a nurturing environment where equal importance is placed on academic excellence, character development, moral integrity, and service to others.