This interview has been lightly edited for style, length, and clarity.
How’d you end up at Colburn?
I was attending a summer program at The School of American Ballet, and that’s when my parents realized that, wow she actually could do this for a living. She needs to find a place that she can thrive in and be able to accomplish her dreams that she’s had since she was two years old. I’m really thankful to have supportive parents. My mom especially has been guiding me in the journey.
I remember being at home and looking at all different kinds of programs, but Colburn was one that really stuck out to us because it was such a small program. I was really interested in getting one-on-one attention and really being able to grow to the maximum capacity that I believed I was capable of.
And I’m really thankful to have found Colburn and have worked with [Jenifer Ringer] and [James Fayette] for two years now. I really thrived in this atmosphere, and I’m so grateful for it.
What are you going to take away from your time at Colburn?
I think at Colburn, not only do you learn how to dance, but you learn how to be a better person. I’ve really put my heart and soul into this program, and I’ve learned so many lessons along the way.
I moved down here when I was 16, across the country and on my own, but I learned how to be an adult at such a young age. I really learned how to push myself and be my own motivation. There are just so many lessons that Colburn and being in Los Angeles has taught me that I don’t think I would’ve ever learned if I had stayed home.
When did you start dancing?
I started dancing when I was two years old. It’s actually a funny story. I was really attached to my mom. I got the nickname Velcro because I would never want to leave her side. So right before pre-school, we were working on separation. There was one studio that had something that was not mommy and me, so I say that my mom put me in ballet to get rid of me. It ended up being the only thing that I’ve stuck with throughout the years, the only thing that I really had a passion for.
Why did you decide to pursue a professional career in dance?
It’s hard, I always knew ever since I was so young that I wanted to be a ballet dancer. That dream has always been my vision.
It started to get a little bit weary in the beginning of high school because I started really liking school and my classes, and I got a big interest in athletic training and physical therapy because I get injured all the time.
So, I’m actually going to be pursuing both a professional ballet career and taking night classes at a local college by Grand Rapids Ballet, so I get to do best of both worlds.
Why did you choose Grand Rapids?
I actually was fortunate to have a lot of options for my future career. I was really interested in the fact that Grand Rapids Ballet just hired a new artistic director. This past year was his first year. James Sofranko was formerly with San Francisco Ballet, he’s now taking over Grand Rapids Ballet.
The ability to work with a new artistic director is something that not many people ever get to experience, so now I’m going into his vision of the company and I get to grow with it instead of trying to fit a single mold already. I get to actually be one of the first people that he’s ever brought into the company. It’s very exciting to be part of such a new company, and it’s definitely growing and vibrant.
What about the classes you’re planning to take? What is your goal with those?
I’m trying to balance both the professional career along with taking college classes. My ultimate goal would be able to study exercise science or kinesiology as an undergrad, and then go for my master’s with athletic training.
I would love to work with a sports team and be able to work with athletes one-on-one. By then, I’ll have already had a professional career and I know what injuries are like and what athletes do to their body just to do whatever they love, so I want to give back in that aspect.
What got you interested in that?
The fact that I got injured so much. I think it first started when I got a stress fracture in my talus bone in my ankle back when I was in eighth grade. I would always look up the skeletal system and see how the ligaments connect to that. I just really dove into it.
And I loved the place that I went to for physical therapy. Everyone that worked with me there really got me back on my feet. I was able to recover so much quicker than I ever thought possible, and then I ended up getting a scholarship to my dream summer intensive. That really made me realize, oh wow there is actually a reason why doctors tell us things that we should follow.
I think with the background I’ve had dancing and my injuries, I could really help the people that are going through injuries themselves that just want to get back to doing what they love.
What are you going to miss the most when you leave Los Angeles?
I definitely think my teachers and then the friends that I’ve made here. It’s hard to think back on my time and realize how many opportunities I’ve had and how grateful I am to have teachers that have not only cared about me as a dancer, but as a person. The number of times I’ve just had any problem in my personal life and I’ve just been able to go to them and they’ve been there for me. For me, it’s definitely the people, not the place, and I think that’s going to be the hardest thing to leave.