My mom was a professional ballet dancer and I started dancing at her ballet school when I was really young. When I was 13, I began training at the Rock School for Dance Education as a full-time student. My family lives outside of Philadelphia, so I was commuting there on the train everyday.
When I was 15, I accepted an amazing opportunity to be part of the inaugural year of Cary Ballet Conservatory’s Professional Training Program. I relocated to North Carolina on my own and boarded there for a couple of years so I could attend.
A turning point…
This past year (my senior year of high school) has been somewhat of an interim year for me. In August I made the decision that I wanted to further my education past high school. This entailed a lot of my time being dedicated to college applications and auditions. I moved back home, re-entered traditional high school, and have been training locally ever since.
In the Fall I will be attending the University of Oklahoma as ballet performance major. I am also planning on studying health and nutrition in the future, and doing either a double-major or minor in health and exercise science.
I have always been a pretty quiet person. Dancing gives me a voice that I have a difficult time otherwise finding. When I am dancing I am my happiest.
A major turning point for me was definitely making the decision that I wanted to take the college route rather than auditioning for companies and trying to get a dance job directly out of high school. It was a really difficult choice for me to make, but I couldn’t be happier or more excited!
Food and stuff…
I don’t like to label myself with any specific diet… I don’t think that it’s really healthy for me, personally. My little sister, who currently dances at The Rock School, is a hardcore vegan for ethical reasons, so we always have a lot of plant-based foods in our house and rarely any dairy or meat other than fish.
This year has required a lot of adapting on my part. I went from four years of dancing from 10am-6pm; to spending my day sitting at a desk in a high school and dancing from 4pm-9pm.
A typical day of eating for me now:
I usually start my day with a big cup of tea (I’m currently loving Yogi Tea’s “Positive Energy”)
Breakfast: two pieces of toast (usually Ezekiel in my house) with almond butter and banana
Lunch: salad with salmon and avocado and non-dairy yogurt with berries
2:30pm (after school)I’ll usually have a snack around this time. A common one for me is a piece of fruit (apple or orange maybe) and some dark chocolate and/or nuts
Dinner is always a little complicated because of my ballet schedule in the evening. For me, I’ve found that it works best to eat a little before class, and a little after. Sprouted lentils are one of my favorite things to have for dinner (the process of sprouting them makes them easier to digest). My mom will often put them in a stew with sweet potatoes, or I’ll eat them with brown rice and veggies.
Healthy dancing is dancing for the right reasons, and properly fueling your body as you do so. I can feel in my own mind and body when I am dancing healthfully. There was a point in time when I felt absolutely exhausted, depleted, and I was really just going through the motions in ballet class without the energy or passion to make anything of the steps. I am so grateful to no longer be in that place with myself.
Until recently I was very tunnel-visioned in terms of my career. I couldn’t picture myself doing anything other than dancing…and I think that part of that came from fear- simply because I just never knew any other life.
I still- more than anything- want to dance professionally; but I’m not scared of exploring other fields and interests. Through my own experiences, I have grown incredibly passionate about all things nutrition. I think that eating disorders are still a very taboo topic in ballet, and that’s really upsetting to me. Beyond my dance career, I would love to become a dietitian or nutritionist and work with dancers.
To younger dancers…
Work hard, don’t be afraid to fail, and always follow your heart. And always remember that your health (both physical and mental) is the most important thing.