Story by Tessa Collinson
Sweat drips from the dancers' backs and foreheads as they end the dance. Their plum and coral uniform leotards, as well as the white t-shirts worn by young gentlemen, are darkened with their perspiration. There are only a few minutes left in rehearsals, but artistic director Alyona Yakovleva-Randall still yells at the ladies and gentlemen to do the dance “one more time."
Most of these students are at Indiana Ballet Conservatory five times a week for nearly three hours a day. They are used to the instructors screaming corrections and exasperatedly telling them to do the combinations again and again.
One of these students is seventh grader Chloe Sun, who goes for private lessons: ballet technique, pointe, and other classes like contemporary and character.
It’s a large time commitment. When she gets home, she has 20 to 30 minutes to grab a snack, practice piano, and get ready for class, which usually involves changing into a leotard and tights, putting her hair into a bun, and warming up.
Olivia Dashiell, seventh grade, has a similar schedule as Sun. Her classes start around six in the evening, giving her time for homework and a snack before dance.
But their days don’t include just class, they participate in IBC’s annual "Nutcracker," which puts on six shows in December. They also compete in Youth America Grand Prix, one of the most known competitions in the ballet world. Sun is preparing two classical variations and a contemporary solo, as well as performing in an ensemble that Dashiell is also in.
As "Nutcracker" nears, Dashiell says she will spend more time in rehearsals. After that, she’s ready for YAGP rehearsals to get crazier than they already are.
Despite the large commitment, both girls aren’t quitting anytime soon.
“It’s just something that I really like to do,” Dashiell says. She likes how she has so many friends, and how the crazy vibes of the studio are surprisingly calming.
Sun agrees with her wholeheartedly. “Even though it takes a lot of commitment and dedication to dance,” Sun says, “I dance because I get to hang out with my friends at the studio, it gives me something to focus on when I’m worried or sad and distracts me, and it’s a lot of fun and I love it.”
Unfortunately, ballet isn’t all fun and games. Dancers are more susceptible to knee and ankle injuries than most athletes. Sun is one of many who suffer from an injury in her knee that has held her back from her full potential and prevented her from doing jumps and pointe work.
“It’s a lesson learned, though,” Sun says. “And now I take extra care in making sure I use my legs correctly, so I can prevent any future injuries.”
Ballet is hard. It wears on a dancer’s body and takes up most of their time, but despite all of this, the satisfaction and tired happiness after a performance makes it worth it in the end.
All stories, photos and video footage by the seventh and eighth grade newspaper students.