Tell us a little bit about yourself :)
I am 13 years old and I live in Carmel, Indiana. I go to Indiana Ballet Conservatory where I am so blessed to get taught by amazing, world-renound teachers. At IBC, we have performances and we go to a few competitions a year, mainly YAGP.
I placed 2nd place at YAGP Indy during the 2017 regionals after a long year of hard work. This summer I got accepted into the School of American Ballet's summer program. More than 2,000 people audition and only a select number get in so I am very lucky to be able to get the experience of a lifetime!!
How did you get introduced to ballet and when did ballet get serious?
When I was 3, my mom put me in my first dance class and I quickly fell in love. I tried every sport you could think of from soccer to swimming and I didn't love anything as much as Ballet.
I started getting serious at about the age of 9 when I started getting bigger roles in the Nutcracker such as Clara and when I did my first competition (YAGP) I knew that I loved to dance and this was going to be something I would be doing for a long time!
Can you share your biggest challenges ?
My biggest challenge is a condition I have called pectus excavatum. This condition is where the breastbone sinks into the chest and pushes on the heart, causing heart and lung problems. During the summer of 2016, I got the surgery to fix it which meant putting a bar in my chest and popping the bone into it's original place. This caused a major setback in my dancing abilities but now I have recovered and I am blessed to be able to dance again!
How do you handle pressure and where do you find your motivation?
Every dancer experiences pressure because there is no such thing as perfection and there is always more to improve. I get really nervous before I go on stage so I say a little prayer, take a deep breath, and cross my fingers that all goes well. I find motivation in amazing twins who have changed my life so much. Morgan and Julia Rust are not only kind, but they humbly work so hard and are always striving to be their best.
What was your most embarrassing moment (in regards to ballet, of course) ?
Even though I have a lot of them, my most embarrassing moment would probably have to be when I was 8 and in a private with my teacher, Alyona Yakovleva-Randall. I was stretching my inner thys and she came over to stretch me and right as she started pushing my knees down, I farted right in her face! She got up and sat back down in her chair and neither of us said a word about it, I was mortified!
How did ballet influence your life in other ways?
Dance takes up a lot of my week so I barely have time to hang out with school friends, however I have come so close with my dance friends and we are a huge family at IBC. Being a dancer has also taught me a lot about my body and how to take care of myself.
What does your typical day look like?
Since I go to public school, I wake up at 6:30 and go to school till 3:30. My mom usually picks me up and takes me straight to dance where I have a private for 30 minutes and then I have class for three hours. After dance I go home, and eat and stretch and get ready for bed.
On a day where I don't have dance (Sunday) I usually hang out with friends or stretch and just relax if I don't have a private. This gives my body a break before I dance again the next day.
And what about your flexibility training ? Where does that fit in ?
I usually have Pilates once a week and muscle therapy once a month. This helps me control my body by strengthening muscles I need to use. This has helped me learn that it's better to be in control of your body versus being crazy flexible and not being able to control it. So even though you need to stretch a lot, you need to know when enough is enough and when it's time to give your body a rest.
What are your future plans/goals/dreams?
I hope to join a dance company such as New York City Ballet or American Ballet Theatre and work my way up to being a principal dancer.
Any tips for passionate people who are starting to practice ballet now?
I would say you need to know that you really love it before you put everything into ballet because it definitely takes a lot of work! One thing I wish I would've done differently is go to more competitions and conventions to expand my dance abilities and be able to know what style of dance I like best. It's always fun to explore new things and meet new people!