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Everybody started somewhere. In the My Journey posts we ask an accomplished athlete / star / thought leader how they got where they are now. We hope their stories will inspire and motivate you.

In this forty first My Journey post, we had a chat with Katherina Madriz who is a Ballet Dancer. We hope you enjoy Katherina's journey.
Katherina Madriz
Katherina Madriz
Tell us a little bit about yourself :)

I was born in San José Costa Rica where I still live. I started dancing when I was 9, have done most of the ballets of the classical repertoire, as member of corps de ballet, soloist and principal.

I studied Physical therapy here in Costa Rica, and I went to take a master's degree in Spain where I stayed 3 years, studying, working and taking classes. I'm also a Pilates instructor. And as a need in my country I started on 2016 dance Festival called "Festival de Ballet San José": it has speeches, classes, workshops, a dance intensive and performances. We also work during the year giving workshops around my country.

How did you get introduced to ballet?

Since I was a little girl I wanted to dance, as many girls do... But there was no schools for young girls here in Costa Rica. They admitted girls at the age of 9. So I went to the audition of the Russian School here in Costa Rica and I got in. After a few months there I had to change school because they moved far away from my city. So, I auditioned at the school of the Cuban teachers which was just like the national school at that moment and I got in.

Since I started, it was extremely serious and filled with discipline. I never played to be a butterfly or a princess. I started facing the bar and working hard day by day. When I look back I don't know how a little girl would rather to be yelled at and have pain in all her body instead of being at a party or at a friend's house. I just loved being there...

It has always being hard, and I think that's what I love about it, it never gets easy.

When did ballet get “serious”?

It was serious from the start. From 9-11 years I went 3 times a week and sometimes on Saturdays as well. From 11 and ahead I stared going everyday, Monday through Saturday, and some weeks on Sundays too. Especially at 11 when I got my first solo, which was also my first time on pointe. From then on, that was my life... Ballet everyday. Blisters and muscle pain until the present day.

Can you share your biggest challenges ?

One of the biggest challenges for a girl or a teenager is the "social life". It's hard to never be with your school friends at parties or trips. At elementary school I never went to any party or to friend's house. Ballet friends were the friends whom I socialized with. At high school, this changed because parties were at night, so I finished classes and rehearsals and I went to parties.

At college no trips or beach, just studying hard and dancing all day, that was my life. I'm never at any picture with my friends...

But that's not the hardest, the hardest part is that in ballet you need to have certain characteristics, so it's hard sometimes not to get a role just because not being tall enough, or skinny enough. Those are things we can't change...

Katherina Madriz
Katherina Madriz
How do you handle pressure?

We as dancers experience pressure everyday. We are taught to be perfect. So you have to perform perfect your technique, your quality, your faces, make it look easy. Be skinny, but strong. It's really hard!

As you grow you learn to handle it and to understand that we're all different and that we are all valuable for whom we are. But as a young dancer you always want to be as perfect as the best of the class and sometimes you start hurting yourself to accomplish that.

Can you share your thoughts on self consciousness?

I'm always nervous to perform, I'm nervous to not mess up the choreography or to mess up my technique.

The thing is that when you step on the stage you forget everything and you just enjoy being up there. Of course I'm thinking about steps and technique all the time when I'm dancing, but I'm having so much fun that I don't feel nervous anymore. Days before shows I don't sleep well but it's because I feel anxious about being on the stage!

What was your most embarrassing moment (in regards to ballet of course ;)

Uff so many of them! But they all come to my mind with falling...In ballet you never fall, and it's really obvious if someone fall. So many times I had to dance without music or without light...

But the funniest one has to be falling off from your pointe and face the floor :/

How did ballet influence your life in other ways?

In sooooo many ways. I'm a very disciplined person in everything I do, I'm always on time and I'm always ready to do my best. I also have a healthy life, as a dancer you have to watch your weight so that motivates me to eat healthy and stay in shape.

I love parties because I love dancing, I can go to a party and don't take any alcoholic drinks because I have a performance coming or rehearsal the next morning... Also because alcohol and junk food don't help muscles recover. I am a very secure person and that's what the stage gives you. I'm used to fight for everything I want until I get it... Just as in every rehearsal or ballet class...

Katherina Madriz
Katherina Madriz
What does your daily routine look like ?

This is a tough one, haha. I wake up at 5:30am must of my days. Twice a week I go swimming at 6am. Then I rehearse from 9am-12pm and work in my physical therapist place from 3pm- 8pm. Other days I work from 7-9am, then I dance from 9am- 12pm and work from 3-8pm. Once a week I teach at a studio from 5pm- 9pm. On Friday afternoon I teach private classes. On Saturdays I work from 8am- 1pm and rehearse during the afternoon. Some other days I have to rehearse also at mid day.

During the day I make calls and send mails working on my dance festival...At nights I hang out with friends. It's always different for me, but I NEVER miss my foods or my sleep.

And what about your flexibility training ? Where does that fit in ?

When I was younger I had flexibility lessons at my school. In ballet we stretch before class, during the class, and after class. I do Pilates at least once a week.And I stretch every night before going to sleep. It's such an important habit. It keeps your muscles healthy and away from injury.

What keeps you motivated?

My injuries is what keep me motivated.

I have a really hard time with myself everytime I get injured. So, when there's nothing that hurts I work really hard and try to take advantage of each moment of each day. People who die, or people who is ill also motivates me, to make each day count and to work as hard as possible every single day until life give me this great opportunity of being healthy and of being alive.

"The Secret" is a book that has helped me a lot, the movie "Center Stage" and my mom.

Katherina Madriz
What are your future plans/goals/dreams?

Oh Gosh! There are a lot! But I would like to keep on dancing for many more years. I want my Ballet Festival to grow and to help me get people together, giving them the opportunity to meet new dancers for further jobs or friendships. I wolud also love to help create a national ballet school in Costa Rica and also a National Ballet Company, we don't have any of them. As a physical therapist I hope to keep helping people getting back into their regular activities and feel always good!

Any tips for passionate people starting out ballet ?

The most important thing is to never believe anybody who tells you that you're not good enough or that you were not born for this. Passion and hard work is the clue of every success!

Something really important is that you would have difficult days, days in which you would like to quit because you're going to think you're not good enough. Times when you rehearse for hours and things still go wrong. But every new day is a new opportunity to try again. Those days will only makes you stronger!

Anything you’d like to share?

Instagram :

Katherina Madriz

Ballet Dancer/Pilates Instructor

Instagram :@ktfisioterapia, @festivalballetsj, @kathemadriz

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  • Author Image
    Jon Posted August 29 2017

    Love the interview!

  • Author Image
    Amaya Posted August 29 2017

    So inspiring!


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