What is your role at Once Upon a Ballet in Castle Rock?
I’m the owner and currently it’s sole instructor. One day I hope the program grows enough that I’ll need to hire additional staff and teachers. But for now I enjoy the fact that I get to really know every student in the program. I think that’s pretty cool.
How long have you been dancing?
I started ballet when I was 9 years old. It’s hard to believe that was 26 years ago!
What first drew you to ballet? What kept your interest in ballet?
Initially, seeing a performance of the Bolshoi Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” on TV sparked my interest. I had never even heard of ballet before, but when I saw that performance I knew I had to do it.
Once I started taking ballet and began performing, I think the love of being in stage drew me in. Also, ballet has so many dimensions. It’s an art and a science, a sport and a tradition. It’s never boring if you’re really working at it.
What do you like most about teaching children’s ballet classes?
I love getting to see the students progress. Children grow and change so quickly. It’s amazing to look back just one year and see how far each student has come – whether it’s in terms of ballet technique, social skills, or building confidence.
How has ballet affected or benefited your life?
In ballet class, especially once you reach higher levels, you’re always striving for a perfection you can never achieve. It’s humbling, but in striving for that perfection, you reach goals you may have not imagined possible. I think that creates an incredible drive and work ethic that can be applied to any other area in life. I think that’s what makes dancers very successful people in other areas of life outside of ballet.
What advice you would give to young dancers to encourage their progress?
Believe in yourself and never give up. I know it sounds cheesy, but it’s so true. When you keep trying at something, practice over and over. To me, just when I thought I wouldn’t be able to get a difficult step or part of a dance, when I kept trying, I eventually got it. But I always had to push past when I wanted to give up. So don’t give up!
Also, if you’re not getting something and feel roadblocked, ask for help. Sometimes a teacher or a friend will have an idea or perspective different from your own and can help.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was two years old, my family went to Sea World. I wanted to work there so I could swim with the whales. When I asked my mom what I had to be to do that, she told me a marine biologist. So I wanted to be a marine biologist from then until I was 5 – when I saw “The Nutcracker” on TV. From then on, I wanted to be a ballerina. It’s even in my kindergarten scrap book (that I still have!).
Then when I was 13, I decided I wanted to teach ballet and own my own ballet school. I was still dancing at the school where I’d started ballet. I loved that school so much. It was in an old building with tons of character. The studios were large with rows of windows. Around performance time, people were always bustling around, parents helping with props and costumes and the like. It felt like a big family. I wanted to run a school just like that.