A Day in the Life of a Professional Division Student: Rehearsing Harold and the Purple Crayon

PNB will perform Harold and the Purple Crayon for the first time on March 23. The show will be performed entirely by PNB School students, including PNB School’s Professional Division (PD) students, who are advanced students elevating their training to the next level. The PD Program is designed to help students transition from student to professional dancer by perfecting technique and developing artistry. While PDs perform with PNB Company dancers during the season, this family matinee performance is their chance to take center stage.

LeeAnaca Moore is a PD student at PNB, and she’s been selected to perform the role of Harold in the ballet! Originally from Florida, LeeAnaca began dancing at the age of ten. LeeAnaca danced at the Florida Ballet and did many ballet competitions as well. After meeting PNB faculty member Jonathan Porretta at one such competition, LeeAnaca attended PNB’s 2023 Summer Course, where she was invited to join PNB’s PD program. This is her first year in the PD program. We asked LeeAnaca about her daily routine while rehearsing Harold and the Purple Crayon.  


LeeAnaca loves mornings! She starts her day around 6:15 AM, when she wakes up, washes her face, does her hair, and eats breakfast. LeeAnaca takes the saying “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” seriously. “I know a lot of people don’t like breakfast, but as a PD, we’re doing so much in the day. So I like to have a big breakfast with protein, carbs, and fiber.”

LeeAnaca arrives at the studio around 7:45 AM to begin warming up for class, which starts at 8:30 AM. Right now, LeeAnaca is using technique class to hone in on some of the things she’s been working on in Harold rehearsals. “I’m working on different qualities because that’s a lot of what we’re working on with Harold. So instead of just focusing on perfect turnout or perfect feet, I’m also focusing on how can I achieve different qualities in my dancing.


After technique class, LeeAnaca begins rehearsal at 10:00 AM “straight away.” She and the other PDs have a series of rehearsals in 3-hour blocks, so a 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM rehearsal, an hour for lunch, and then a 2:00 PM to 5:00 PM rehearsal. Each rehearsal focuses on something different. “Sometimes Robyn will work with just the dancers playing Harold to build up our stamina for all the dancing we’re doing, or we’ll work on the quality of the movement, or she’ll work with the dancers playing birds or the dancers in the mountain scene.” As the PD’s approach the first performance of Harold, they’ve begun running through the entirety of the ballet, breaking for notes, and then running through the ballet again.

Lee Anaca is grateful for the opportunity to work with Robyn, the original choreographer of Harold. “She’s so patient and so kind, and it makes the process a lot of fun. I want to embody what her vision is because I feel like Harold is like her baby. I’m trying to give her what her vision is, while still portraying the character how I feel is best for my creative self. I love working with her.”

Late Afternoon:

As the day progresses, LeeAnaca continues to rehearse Harold. Her main takeaway from rehearsals is how she can move both organically and dynamically. “Harold is such a character-driven ballet. As a more classically trained dancer, I can get very fixated on how something looks. But I think especially working with Robyn, I’ve been trying to express more how something feels. She’s been talking about not manufacturing it but feeling it.” 

Oftentimes, PDs will use their breaks between rehearsals to review the video of the ballet they’re performing and practice along with it. With Harold, it’s a little different. “As a collective group, the PDs have all been excited about being the original PNB cast. If PNB does this ballet again, we’re going to be the video that gets watched. We’re all very excited to build something new that hasn’t been done.”


After her last rehearsal, LeeAnaca takes a moment to pause and reflect on her day. “I like to write my notes down if they really stuck out to me and it feel like it’s something I could really work on. Then I sit for a second, let my body relax, and then I’ll get up and go home.” Since she lives so far from her hometown, she’ll call her parents and catch up with them. After showering and eating dinner, LeeAnaca will roll out and stretch to recuperate after a long day. Then, she might journal a bit before heading to bed around 10:15 PM. If she has more free time, LeeAnaca likes to relax by having a pizza party with her friends or by playing board games.

To those considering PNB’s PD program, LeeAnaca has some reassuring advice. “Don’t stress it! It can be stressful; there’s a lot of people applying. And if you have a bad class, you’ll think ‘Oh, no, I won’t get in.’ It’s fine. If you don’t get in, reapply next year. If it’s meant for you, you’ll get it. So don’t stress it.”

LeeAnaca also encourages everyone “Come see Harold and the Purple Crayon! Harold is like a pop-up version of the storybook. It’s so cool!”

Learn more about PNB’s Professional Division Program here.

Photo credits: Photos courtesy of LeeAnaca Moore.