My name is Aubri Parker, 14, and I live in Frisco, Texas. I dance at Cary Ballet Conservatory.
Can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I started dancing at a competition dance studio at eight years old, and I actually disliked ballet class the most. I didn't like the tights and hair buns at all. Something changed over the next two years, and I started to actually enjoy the challenge that ballet was. At ten years old, I decided I wanted to focus more on ballet and became a founding member of ECC. After 2.5 years there, I made a personal/training-level decision at 12 years old to transition and train with Olga Pavlova of Pavlova Professional Coaching (PPC). At 14, I have been offered the opportunity to train with Cary Ballet Conservatory in their Professional Training Program and accepted.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
This is a very thought-provoking question. For me, the answer would be yes and no. Some things have been extremely easy, but many things have not been. I have been in certain situations that were verbally abusive and very toxic. It is difficult to decide to leave traditional school/friends at a very young age and dedicate so many hours of your life to something that may never come to fruition. Add in a negative training environment, and that is an entirely different level. At one point, I did not have the mental desire to continue in ballet. I am very grateful that others stepped in, and I was able to find my passion and love for ballet again.
What personal limitations if any did you go through in your young career?
I am extremely hypermobile and have a connective tissue disorder. This means that my joints, for the most part, have no end range. My ligaments and tendons do not have the same tension and limitations that most have. This makes it difficult to know where to stop in a good/safe range while dancing as well as being careful to avoid injuries through overuse. Building/keeping strength is something I have to work extra hard on, and incorporating weekly cross-training is a necessity. I also have to see a sports medicine soft-tissue specialist frequently to maintain any musculoskeletal issues that arise through training. I also struggle with proprioception, which is the perception or awareness of the position and movement of my body in the space around me. This is a huge challenge in dance as well as everyday life. I am also in the process of testing for ADHD.
Has anybody ever tried to limit you on what you could do? If so how did you fight it?
I have received some subpar technique training in the past and have been pushed into training at levels above where I was physically ready, for the sake of winning, which actually will set you back as the years go by because professional ballet is not attainable with shortcuts/smoke and mirrors. I have been body shamed, humiliated, degraded, yelled at, disrespected, lied to, and called many negative names in the studio and out of the studio. Communication is key in situations like that. Reach out to your support system, and if that doesn't solve the issues, then changing environments is what worked in my situation.
How do you conquer negative talk?
Someone said that 'I wasn't at the ballet studio to make friends' and that 'I would be hated and treated awfully wherever I went' due to the jealousy of others and that 'I just needed to accept that.' Well, I didn't accept that, and I don't believe that is true. Rise above others trying to tear you down or those who choose not to hear you and/or work towards providing a positive/supportive environment. It's not always easy to make difficult choices. Someone wise once told me..."recognize those who are just there to use you as opposed to simply giving to you."
What is your favorite quote?
"I am still learning how to go back and reread my own chapters without feeling like I want to set all of my pages on fire." - E.V. Rogina
So, what’s next? Any big plans?
I am looking forward to training with Marielena Ruiz/Heather Iler at Cary Ballet Conservatory this year, and having the opportunity to not only compete with them but to also perform in the Nutcracker - for the first time ever for me - as well as another full-length ballet in the spring. While I believe competitions are important, I feel that learning to perform in ballets/partnering is even more important. If I ever have the opportunity to become a professional, I want to be hired into the corps of a ballet at first. Being prepared for performing with a company is crucial.