Tell us a little bit about yourself :)
I was born in Indiana and have lived there my whole life. I'm getting ready for a new adventure and will be moving to Washington DC to train at The Washington School of Ballet. My twin sister, Morgan, and I recently received two Trainee offers for the upcoming year at amazing companies, but we are putting those on hold because we know there is so much we still need to work on first.
I am staying focused on the long term goal of having a successful career and that means I need to refine my technique as well as grow as an artist. We are excited about what Ms. Kent and Ms. Reyes are doing at The Washington Ballet and want to be part of it while learning all we can from them!
How did you get introduced to ballet and when did ballet get serious?
When I was younger, I loved tap, gymnastics, soccer, guitar...pretty much everything I tried! I could also sit in a corner and read a book all day. My twin sister, Morgan, was singularly-minded about ballet. She began training at a more serious pre-professional school when she turned 8.
I started to take more and more classes there, until I quickly began to love it and before long it began to feel as though I couldn't imagine life without it. There's something so intimate about ballet: you have to be fully connected with every single muscle, the way everything looks and feels, the way the music sounds, the pattern of your breathing, and it all has to come from your soul or it's just a bunch of movements.
Can you share your biggest challenges ?
It's important to train in many different styles or aesthetics in order to be marketable. Ballet dancers often train at different places in the summer to expand our knowledge and experiences. I usually went to training programs similar to my home studio in order to keep a consistency with the training. As you get older, that's when you start exploring new opportunities.
The first summer I trained in a completely different aesthetic it created certain muscles to be used that normally aren't as much with classical ballet. In addition, there were muscles I normally used that were not needed and they got weak. These changes caused my muscles to look different - wider instead of longer. It took nearly half a year to strengthen the correct turnout muscles and elongate my legs again.
I lost a lot of time that following year because it took so long to figure out what was wrong, how it happened, how to fix it, etc. The next summer I went back I knew what to do outside of class to counteract the training. Not only did it result in my growth in that style, but it has made me a stronger and more versatile dancer overall
How do you handle pressure and where do you find your motivation?
Simply put: my strength is found in my faith. My relationship with God is deep and strong. In Him I put my worries, troubles, fears, and doubts. No matter how worried or stressed I get, I just have to center my mind and my heart in prayer and focus on the fact that God has placed this passion in my heart and He will walk every step with me.
What was your most embarrassing moment (in regards to ballet, of course) ?
Probably any time I have fallen, whether by myself in a studio or in a performance! I am actually pretty clumsy.
How did ballet influence your life in other ways?
Ballet requires an enormous amount of self discipline. There are dancers who do this because it is what others want; Because this is my passion, I'm the one who has to decide I want to show up extra early to class and stay an hour later, work for a few hours at home on extra things, show up on my one day off and work, spend hours researching characters and roles to understand the story I need to tell, etc. This discipline and perseverance helps in regards to school, relationships, and every area of life. Because it is all-consuming, I have to put forth a lot of effort to keep friendships healthy. I have to be the one to reach out and stay connected. I might feel physically and mentally exhausted, but those friendships are important and I have to put forth a lot of effort to keep them going.
What does your typical day look like?
Mon - Fri: Get up at 7 and get ready, pack food for the whole day, and head to the studio. I always show up at least 1 hour before class and stay at least 1 hour after. Most days are 9am-8pm on average. Saturdays are usually 10-5 and Sundays 1-5. We usually have 3 ballets a year which can require even more hours of rehearsal, but this schedule is a good look at a typical week. On top of this schedule, I usually spend 1-2 hours at home on specific exercises, stretches, and then there’s icing every night. I also spend time on homework, chores, etc.
And what about your flexibility training ? Where does that fit in ?
I have found that most dancer's bodies are unique in their needs. For example, I need more strength in my ankles and to be looser in my hips. My twin sister needs to roll out her I.T. Band. There are so many stretches and excercises that are very important, so it's about making sure everything is flexible as well as strong.
What are your future plans/goals/dreams?
I want to be a professional ballerina. I want to work for a company with a vast repertoire that includes classical ballets, neoclassical ballets, well-known modern works, and new contemporary works. I want to be valued and appreciated by the Artistic Faculty so that I feel safe to explore and grow over the years. I want to rise through the ranks and feel what it’s like to be part of a team in the corps de ballet, dip my toes in the spotlight as a soloist, and then experience what it’s like to be a principal dancer and have a different kind of pressure and challenge.
I want to be part of the community and share my passion with arts lovers and young children who love the idea of ballet as a career too! I feel like each time you dance you create a special gift to give to anyone who sees and experiences it. I want to share that gift and look back on a long, successful career knowing I made a difference. This is a very lofty dream, but I know it will keep me constantly working for more. :)
Any tips for passionate people who are starting to practice ballet now?
Do a lot of research regarding teachers and curriculums. Find the best fit for you and TRUST your teacher. Don’t get caught up in things that don’t matter: the number of your Instagram likes, going to popular schools, etc. Stay focused on the art, the long term goal, and learn how to supplement your training with regard to healthy exercises, stretches, and body care (icing, alignment, etc.) It is so important to stay focused on the big picture, and a good teacher will help guide you and cultivate the artist inside.
Anything you’d like to share?
@juliapointeshoes on instagram :)