On Pointe

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At a young age, Alston Macgill left Savannah and headed to the Big Apple, trading the comforts of home for a rigorous six-day-a-week training schedule. Enduring physical injury and tough teachers, she says it’s the beauty of ballet that drives her to be one of the best in the country.

But she’s not the only one with the desire to dance; her 11-year-old sister is following closely in her footsteps. While other American teenage girls are interested in boys and makeup, two Savannah sisters don’t have time for such trivialities. Alston and Isabel Macgill share a single-minded passion: they devote every spare minute pursuing their dreams of becoming the best ballerinas they can be. That means many challenging hours a week of learning, training, practicing and rehearsing, honing their skills and talents to succeed in the highly competitive world of professional dance. The motive?

“Ballet is so beautiful,” Alston offers, with a gee-whiz, how-lucky-can-a-girl-get grin on her face. “You feel so free,” says Isabel. “It’s like flying.” That sense of freedom belies the years of hard work for the sisters to rise so high in the ranks of up-and-coming ballerinas.

And it comes only with a tremendous investment in terms of time and financial support. Alston, 14, is training with The School of American Ballet (SAB) while in New York, spending up to 20 hours a week in dance class. Isabel, 11, puts in 10 or 15 hours dancing at Hilton Head Dance School five days per week and at North Carolina Dance Theatre in Charlotte, North Carolina on Saturdays. All this is in addition to regular school classes. That kind of dedication can start in only one place. “It has to come from the child,” says Mary-Margaret Macgill, the girls’ mother. “From the very beginning, both [daughters] showed real musicality. “The drive, the passion and the artistry—Alston has those things. She says dancing is what she wants to do with her life. My husband [Frank Macgill, a native Savannahian and managing partner with Hunter Maclean] also believes they should follow their passion.”

Photography by Jabberpics