My name is Carmella Karner, 12, and I live in Virginia Beach, VA. I dance at Virginia Beach Ballet Academy.


Photographer: @demidanseur

Can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.

I started my dance journey at just 5 years old. I started at a local studio where I danced for several years in all styles of dance including: ballet, lyrical, tap, hip hop, and jazz. I found out at a young age ballet was my true passion. We looked to find a studio that trained dancers in classical ballet, and that's the studio I continue my training today, Virginia Beach Ballet Academy. I've been under the training of the amazing Ms. Ana Maria Martinez, where I have pushed myself beyond my limits and continued to prove that I am capable of so much despite my size. I have continued to advance in my training and am currently dancing 5 days a week which is 18 hrs of training.

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?

No. Things were not always easy. I've had to overcome many challenges in my dance journey.

Photographer: @demidanseur

What personal limitations if any did you go through in your young career?

I have flat feet, which cause me to pronate and turn in, causing more issues and struggles with technique. I've gone to a physical therapist weekly who specializes in dancers to help improve this issue and teach me the best way to correct it.

Has anybody ever tried to limit you on what you could do? If so how did you fight it?

I'm always told I'm "too small" to do certain things. I'm judged by my size at times and not my true ability. I continue to push forward to prove and show them no matter my size, my strength and ability to perform certain things are beyond that.

Photographer: @demidanseur

How do you conquer negative talk?

I ignore all negative talk because I won't allow anyone to get in my head or in my way.

What is your favorite quote?

"Life is a mountain. Your goal is to find your path, not to reach the top." - Maxime Lagace

Photographer: @demidanseur

So, what’s next? Any big plans?

I will continue my year-round training at my home studio to improve my training for the next few years. I plan to apply for different dance schools when I graduate and also go to school to be a pediatric physical therapist.

Dec 23, 2021

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