My name is Ella, 15, and I live in Virginia. I dance at Virginia Beach Ballet Academy.


Photographer: @pigeonsthatdance

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

I started taking ballet classes as a little person. But when I was 11, I moved to my current studio, where I began my serious ballet training under the direction of Ana Maria Martinez. Once I got here, I never looked back. She has given me the skills and confidence to pursue my dreams of dancing professionally.

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?

Things were definitely not always easy. I was at a studio for a while, where the directors and teachers didn’t treat me very kindly. I was told, “This shouldn’t jiggle," as my tiny frame was poked. I struggled with concerns about my weight as young as 9 from the negative comments. I am in a much better place now. Ms. Ana places her focus on strength, health, artistry, and technique.

Photographer: @pigeonsthatdance

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

I struggled to trust myself as a young dancer, but I have since gained confidence over the last few years.

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

An old studio director once told me that I only “made pretty pictures,” and “wouldn’t cut it in professional ballet.”

Photographer: @pigeonsthatdance

How do you conquer negative talk?

I have grown more confident. And I try to remember that opinions are just how someone else thinks or feels. I cannot control the thoughts and feelings of anyone but myself.

What is your favorite quote?

“Be like a wildflower. Grow in all the places people never thought you would.” — Original Author Unknown

Photographer: @pigeonsthatdance

So, what’s next? Any big plans?

I am currently trying to finish my college degree, and, in time, I hope to achieve my dream of dancing professionally.

Nov 4, 2021

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