20 to 30 years,” says CityDance Artistic
Director Lorraine Spiegler.
Corbin, who won the boys’ competition in his age group at the 2018
Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP), an
international ballet competition, most
recently landed the role of Fritz in the
Kennedy Center’s December production
of ;e Nutcracker. ;e role of Clara went
to Makenzie Hymes, another conservatory dancer. She and Corbin are paired
together for Nutcracker performances.
Spiegler had been hesitant for Corbin
and Makenzie to audition for ;e Nutcracker, since they were working on other
shows and competitions. “I said o; the
cu;, ‘If you get Fritz and Clara, then we’ll
talk about it.’ ;e night of the audition I
get a call, ‘ Well, they got Fritz and Clara.’ ”
One of Corbin’s favorite things about
the role was meeting the other young
boy who played Fritz (two children were
assigned to each role). At the studio,
Corbin is one of the few boys, and most
of the other students are three to five
Corbin’s older brothers, who attend
Whitman and St. Jane de Chantal
Catholic School, come to all of his performances, and Michelle says they’ve
encouraged his dancing. His father,
Cornell, a former defensive back for the
Indianapolis Colts, knows firsthand the
pressure of being a star athlete, and he
also finds Corbin’s talents astonishing.
Because of Corbin’s age, Michelle kept
him at CityDance last summer rather
than allowing him to study ballet in a different city. But plans are being discussed
about where he might go this coming
summer when he is 12. New York and
Philadelphia are options. Corbin is
currently preparing for CityDance conservatory’s winter showcase, “Creating
the Magic” and YAGP in Philadelphia.
His busy schedule meant he had to turn
down the starring role in Billy Elliot at
Signature ;eatre in Arlington, Virginia.
For Corbin, the chance to perform at
the Opera House at the Kennedy Center
made all of his e;orts worth it. “I’ve
never really performed on a stage as big
as that,” he says, his face alight. n
basketball games; he even taught himself
a back handspring and aerial flip.
After one of Corbin’s youth football
games at Georgetown Prep, Michelle,
who teaches algebra 2 and calculus at
Walt Whitman High School, took him
up the street to see CityDance, part of
the Strathmore Music Center in North
Bethesda. Leaving the studio, Corbin
said it was the best day of his life. He
enrolled in CityDance at age 7, and by
9 he was training seriously. At 11, he is
considered one of the best young ballet
dancers in America.
“;e first year, it was super hard,”
Corbin says. “I was always goofing
around. I didn’t really care.” Asked to
choose which dance style he wanted to
continue with at age 9, Corbin opted for
ballet because “it was the hardest. ;en,
apparently, I got more serious,” he says.
Corbin is now the youngest dancer
at CityDance Petite Conservatory, a
select group of students, many of whom
spend four to six hours a day in practice.
During breaks, Corbin sits in the Strathmore café area and works on his online
home-school program. ;e program
gives him and a dozen other students the
opportunity to practice with the conservatory’s ballet master, Stanislav Issaev,
a two-time international gold medalist
at the Varna and National Soviet Ballet
competitions and a former principal
dancer with the Moscow Classical Ballet.
Corbin is able to turn six or seven
arabesque turns, or pirouettes with one
leg extended (many dancers—including
adults—can only do four). “It is very rare
for a dancer to be able to turn seven,”
For Corbin, the chance to dance with
Issaev made it worth leaving Burning
Tree Elementary School in Bethesda. His
hazel eyes light up when he describes his
dance practice routine. When he speaks,
he leans his thin, 4-foot-11-inch frame
back in his chair, athletic sandals dangling o; his socked feet. He’s wearing a
T-shirt and athletic pants, which he will
change out of before dancing in tights,
ballet technique shoes and a cropped tee.
“Talent like Corbin comes along every
Bethesda Row • 7114 Bethesda Lane
Pampillonia. com • 202.363.6305
Handmade and designed in Bethesda, MD
She said Yes!