First Black ballet student to graduate from Bolshoi returns to his Philly roots

Internationally renowned dancer Gabe Stone Shayer visited String Theory Charter School.

Steve Tawa
October 11, 2018 - 3:34 pm
Internationally renowned dancer Gabe Stone Shayer visited String Theory Charter School.

Steve Tawa/KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Internationally renowned dancer, 25-year-old Gabe Stone Shayer, visited String Theory Charter School's Vine Street campus to offer advice to young performing arts students.

He observed two-dozen ballerinas, between ages 12 and 18, go through their paces in the school's dance studio on Thursday. 

"It's definitely nostalgic," he said, "and great to see the next generation coming up."

At 14, Shayer trained at the Rock School for Dance Education in Philadelphia, continuing that same year at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Moscow. He was the first Black dancer to graduate from the academy, and he won first place as best male dancer. 

Born in Philadelphia, he returned to pay respects to one of his first ballet teachers, Natalia Charova, now on the faculty at String Theory.

"She's one of the most amazing teachers in the world," he said. "Honestly."

He told the students to pay attention to the small details of technique during rehearsals, which carry over to performance.

"Especially everything that Natalia gives you," he said. "All of the corrections — the arms. It's important now, and will carry you forward into your future career."

"He's really adamant about consistency in class, which is something that I struggle with," said Rebecca Corosanite, 16, a senior at String Theory.

Shayer is currently a member of American Ballet Theatre in New York.