My name is Mia Patton and I am 15 years old. I dance at The Ballet Clinic in Scottsdale Arizona.
Can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I started ballet classes when I was 3 years old. We moved to AZ so I could attend an arts school in order to attend daily free ballet classes. At age ten, I began attending ballet schools part-time in order to receive a more formal education. I began a pre-professional training program and competed in The Youth American Grand Prix ballet competition at age 12.
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?
Ballet is a very difficult skill to achieve. However, I feel that God has blessed me with natural abilities and talent, so it has been easier for me than for most people. Most of my training has been on a part-time basis due to a lack of finances and resources. I started competitions at a later age. I am not able to train as much as I need to or would like to, but I continue to improve and advance by God’s grace. He provides all that I need to be able to pursue my dreams.
What personal limitations if any did you go through in your young career?
My biggest obstacle in pursuing my dreams has been financial. My mom is a single parent and 100% disabled, and we are low-income. Ballet is very expensive, and the girls I train with have the resources for training, competitions, and private lessons. It’s hard to stay competitive when I can’t afford to train like them. At times I have to train on my own from home because we lack the money for tuition, so my training has never been very consistent. We have had to be creative and work even harder to find scholarships, ambassadorships, and sponsorships. Promoting my dance journey on Instagram has helped. I have been fortunate to be able to model in exchange for photos to use on my Instagram page. It is a great help because my Instagram page has helped me to get dancewear ambassadorships and scholarships. There are still additional costs with competitions, travel, pointe shoes, and private lessons for which we are working to secure sponsorships for. I’m grateful for the many people and organizations who have helped me in my journey. I would not have reached this level in my training without them.
Has anybody ever tried to limit you on what you could do? If so how did you fight it?
At my old studio, the co-director was upset that I had chosen to take an opportunity and perform in “The Debbie Allen Hot Chocolate Nutcracker” instead of dancing the lead in the studio Nutcracker. Even though participation in the studio show was voluntary and others had chosen not to dance in it, they punished me when I decided to do the same things others had done. They took away my scholarships and kicked me out of the studio. I didn’t do anything to fight it because it was their studio, and they had the right to decide if they didn’t want me there. However, their punishment didn’t end there. They went on to bad talk me to others in the studio, at dancewear stores, and local competitions. I don’t feel that I was treated fairly, but I believe that you reap what you sow. Their slander on me didn’t amount to much, and I went on to be even more blessed with opportunities at other studios.
How do you conquer negative talk?
I do my best to ignore negative talk and ignore the negative things some people may say about me. I know who I am, and I do my best to treat others kindly. Some people may say negative things, but I am at peace with it because I know the negativity comes from something within themselves and not because I have said anything or done anything to them. I try to remember that there will always be those who want to be negative, especially when they see that you are thriving. I stay focused on God and on working on myself to remain positive and kind.
What is your favorite quote?
“There are shortcuts to happiness, and dancing is one of them.” - Vicki Baum
So, what’s next? Any big plans?
I am planning to move next fall in order to continue my training at a school/ballet company full time. I will be leaving home and my mom to live in a dormitory and be on my own for the first time. I’m super excited for the opportunities coming my way and look forward to competing in more ballet competitions this upcoming year.