Successful Alumni in the Arts

Sara Hogenboom, Staff Writer

By Ashley Lee and Sara Hogenboom

Sarah Lamb

When Sarah Lamb ’98 wore unusual outfits to school (like a towel—a bet with her father) and memorized the poem “Il pleure dans mon cœur” for Dean of Students Scott Buchart’s French class (she can still recite it in its entirety), she did not know she would go on to star in a world-famous ballet company.

“I think I always had a back-up plan,” Lamb said. “I applied to like six or eight colleges just like everyone else at Brookline High. I would never say, ‘Oh, this is guaranteed. I’m going to be a star.’ I think I’m pretty circumspect about things. I don’t think I really knew that things were going to go as well as they did until I started getting a lot of leading roles.”

Lamb, now a principal dancer with The Royal Ballet in London, England, started dancing at the age of six. She attended the Jean Paige School of Dance and then the Boston Ballet School. At the age of 17, she started dancing professionally with the Boston Ballet.

Despite her commitment to dance, a dance course at the high school was never a part of her schedule.

“I felt like I did the dance I wanted to extracurricularly, and I felt that to do dance in high school would be a waste of my time as a student because there’s a lot of other things I was interested in, and I thought I could learn better in school,” she said. “If I’m going to go to a high school, then I want to take what’s offered at the high school, which is such a vast array of classes.”

Lamb said she had always been interested in art and took courses in animation and photography, eventually doing independent studies in both areas. In addition, she was very committed to doing well academically.

“It was difficult, of course, to do two things to a high standard, ballet as well as academics. I remember staying up till 2 a.m. a lot,” she said.

After dancing with the Boston Ballet, where she had become a principal dancer, Lamb left to become a first soloist with The Royal Ballet. A year and a half later, she was promoted to principal dancer. She has played the parts of Princess Aurora and Princess Florine in “The Sleeping Beauty,” Juliet in “Romeo and Juliet” and the Sugar Plum Fairy in “The Nutcracker,” among many others. Her awards include silver medals at international ballet competitions in New York and Nagoya, Japan, according to the Royal Opera House website.

Currently, she is performing the role of Alice in a production of “Alice in Wonderland.”

Lamb said she feels having attended the high school as opposed to a ballet school, which many professional dancers attend, will give her an edge when it comes time to pursue something other than ballet.

“I don’t think that professional schools are making their students do the amount of work that is required to prepare them for a life after dance,” she said. “I know I’m going to need a lot more education, but I feel like I’m at a slightly higher level than someone who went to a professional ballet school because I feel that they’ve been allowed to get by with a very, very lax academic schedule and standard.”

To aspiring ballet dancers at the high school, Lamb’s advice would be to take advantage of the opportunities at the high school and cultivate other interests.

“My advice would be to keep learning and keep expanding your brain because that will always be something that’s valued to you on stage: all your experiences,” she said. “The more experiences you have, the more knowledge you’ll have; the more you’ll have of use when you need it. And the more that you limit yourself, the less opportunity you’ll have to share with the audience.”

Emma Frank

Photo contributed by Emma Frank
Photo contributed by Emma Frank

The song begins with a light plucking of double bass strings. Next come the first soft piano notes. Then the singer’s sure and breathy voice floats in. With a resonating voice, she sings of healing and self realizations.

The song is called “Age of Doubt” and the voice belongs to Emma Frank ’06. Frank, who currently lives in Montreal, Canada, performs with the Emma Frank Quartet all over Quebec.

After receiving positive reviews for her first album, she said she plans to release another one in early 2015. The Quartet has recently performed at the International Jazz Festival of Montreal. According to Frank, they are planning a tour across Canada next summer and afterward they will tour the United States and Europe .

However, Frank says she has not forgotten her training at the high school as she sings in Montreal.

According to Frank, she began her performing arts career at an early age, starting singing lessons in the 5th grade. She continued to participate in the arts at the high school, performing in the Shakespeare plays, dance shows and joining Jazz

Band and Note-a-fy.

Frank’s training with dance teacher Christien Polos included the winter musical and dance classes. According to Frank, working with him one-on-one allowed her to get plenty of helpful feedback.

“That was really awesome training, just to get more comfortable in my body, and more comfortable moving through space and being expressive onstage with my breath and movement,” Frank said.

Frank also worked with drama teacher Mary Mastandrea in the Shakespeare play. Frank said Mastandrea helped her work on and think about character development which has helped her in her songwriting.

“That all feels super relevant now that I’m writing my own music and thinking about how I want something to come across,” Frank said.

Similarly, Mastandrea said how smart and sophisticated Frank was as a performer. According to her, Frank was someone who performed with maturity and really worked on her character outside of rehearsal.

“She was a kid who worked on her craft. She really developed it. She didn’t just do her thing then leave,” Mastandrea said.

According to Frank, when she joined Jazz Band her senior year, performing arts teacher Carolyn Castellano also gave Frank a lot of her time and taught her about jazz.

“I sang in the jazz band. I never had ‘jazzed’ before. I’d never improvised before, and she was just really supportive and very helpful with my lack of knowledge,” Frank said.

According to Castellano, Frank was a great addition to the ensemble and was a real team player when it came to sharing her ideas.

“She was a really good jazz performer,” Castellano said. “She knew how to shape a line melodically. She just had a natural feel for the music. She had a good ear, so she was able to adapt. Even though maybe she didn’t understand what was going on harmonically, she was able to fit her voice in.”

According to Frank, she was a hard working student in high school who took advantage of all the opportunities the school presented.

“I found that my education was really well rounded,” Frank said. “I had a lot of time to gravitate towards working on singing, to working on performing in general. I still felt like my academic pursuits were interesting too. It all felt very balanced.”

After high school, Frank went on to study at McGill University in Montreal. Frank said, she did not immediately pursue singing and instead went for a degree in English.  According to Frank, eventually she knew that singing was what she wanted to do and made the transition to becoming a professional musician.

“Finally I just bit the bullet and took the jump, and sort of did a point of no return. I went on as a singer on cruise ships, as a lounge singer, for six months,” Frank said. “That was the first time that I fully made my income off of music, and it was really cool to do that. It showed me that there is no, other way that I want to do things.”


Stephanie DelVecchio

After graduating from the high school, Stephanie DelVecchio ’08 attended Rhode Island School of Design, where she earned a BFA in industrial design. DelVecchio then became a footwear designer for Converse, working on a team responsible for specialty designs for major retailers such as Journeys and Urban Outfitters.

“My job basically is a combination of design and engineering and business,” DelVecchio said. “Probably the most important part of my job as a designer is having the ability to think about design holistically, and really being able to think about all elements of the products, beyond just aesthetics. I work closely with materials design, graphics design, but also management, marketing, development, merchandising.”

A typical day at work involves a lot of technical drawings, which visually communicate different elements of a design, DelVecchio said. The drawings are then sent to factories to be made into samples.

Among her current projects are transparent sneakers.

“I’m trying to create this transparent Chuck that is totally stripped of its elements,” she said. “We’re really trying to push the limits of design and trying to be really progressive in our design approach. It’s sort of a fine balance between creating innovative products that will still manage to resonate with our consumer.”

DelVecchio’s first memories of drawing involve watching the television program “Pappyland,” which aimed to teach children how to draw, she said. At the high school, DelVecchio took visual art courses in areas including drawing, painting and photography, eventually reaching Advanced Placement Studio Art by her junior year.

Although she had not heard much about industrial design prior to attending RISD, DelVecchio discovered her love for the area when she took the course Engineering by Design during her senior year at the high school. DelVecchio said she was drawn to industrial design because she loved the problem-solving element of it.

“It’s so much more than just illustration, so much more than just painting,” she said. “It was kind of like design with a purpose. That transition really made me fall in love with design specifically.”

DelVecchio said the fine arts courses at the high school proved to be beneficial for her later career in design.

“They sort of indirectly affected the work I did at RISD and the work I’m doing now at Converse,” she said. “Actually, in one of my classes at BHS, I started to explore the combination of art and science. I think that was my junior year, where I started looking for the similarities between the two. I continued to explore that my senior year, and I ended up creating a portfolio. I think that had a pretty substantial effect on what I ended up studying in college and what I’m doing today. I feel like if I hadn’t explored that realm, I would have maybe stayed more in the fine art realm.”

Ashley Lee and Sara Hogenboom can be contacted at [email protected]