My name is Charlotte C., 15, from Montreal, Canada. I go to École Supérieure de Ballet du Québec.
Can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
When I entered kindergarten, my parents asked that I choose an afterschool activity. I chose ballet. That was my first introduction to movement, and I loved it. My first dance teacher must have seen something she liked about little 4-year-old me. She suggested that I double down on my dance lessons by attending the École supérieure de ballet du Québec, which I did. I was home... I started in the recreational program, then attended the junior division before joining the pre-professional training program 6 years ago.
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?
The ballet world is not always fluffy and pink, to say the least. You have to believe in yourself and remain focused on what matters: don’t let the noise distract you. Some people say you are making sacrifices… I see it more in terms of making choices. It’s about finding the balance between training & other areas of my life - say, seeing more of the dear friends I have had since I was 4 years old, for example. Good thing technology is there to keep us connected these days! On the whole, I most definitely have more positive memories than anything else, when I think about my dance journey so far. Ballet has opened doors to amazing encounters & experiences. I feel very lucky.
What personal limitations if any did you go through in your young career?
I had a non-dance-related wrist injury in 2018. As much as it was a setback at the time, I now see how much I have been able to gain from it in terms of strength and resilience. It’s now my pleasure to be able to give back to the Shriners Hospital, which helped me so much!
Has anybody ever tried to limit you on what you could do? If so how did you fight it?
The world of ballet is competitive, there’s no denying it. Clearly, this may colour the comments you’ll hear from time to time. You have to make sure that such negative comments don't drown out your inner voice. You know what matters to you; you know what your end goal is, and you have an idea of the path that will take you there. I’m always open and receptive to good advice and constructive input - but I am careful not to let others define me.
How do you conquer negative talk?
It may not be the most graceful animal, but I like the idea of being something of a turtle - building that protective shell that keeps the bad stuff out. I also try to focus on the things that I can control - behaviours - as opposed to what I cannot - outcomes. I enjoy the process. Sure, everyone likes to be on stage performing - I do too! - but I believe it’s the long hours of working in the studio that will ultimately define who you are or can become as a dancer.
Call me naive, but I am also very pleased to see how the world of ballet has been evolving over the last couple of years. I’m hopeful that we’re setting the stage for a more open and inclusive environment. It will be interesting to see how this new, positive energy allows us all to bounce back, post-pandemic.
What is your favorite quote?
I don’t know that I have a favourite quote, but the last one I saw that stayed with me is this one from Wayne Dyer: “When you dance, your purpose is not to get to a certain place on the floor. It’s to enjoy each step along the way.” I think it’s a good reminder to do the work and focus on the things you can control and find joy doing it.
So, what’s next? Any big plans?
The last year has been challenging, to say the least, for all dancers… 2021 will be filled with exciting new projects and collaborations… Stay tuned!