My name is Natalia Cardona, and I am 15 years old. I'm located in Phoenix, Arizona. I go to Premier Ballet Conservatory.
Can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I began dancing ballet around the age of 10. I trained at a Vaganova-based studio called Arizona School of Classical Ballet for a large portion of my schooling. I wouldn't be the dancer I am today without them. This past year, I danced in the Washington School of Ballet's PTD. This year, since I was unable to leave Phoenix for Washington D.C., I've continued my training at Premier Ballet Conservatory.
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, this journey hasn't been entirely easy for me. I've had many physical challenges standing in the way of my dreams. I have a large number of health issues that require things such as medical infusions weekly. I've had repeated hospitalizations since I started dancing, and I've gone through the struggles of dancing with a feeding tube for a few years a while back. I've also had my share of injuries. I love what I do, so I've never quit, and I encourage others to do the same.
What personal limitations if any did you go through in your young career?
I place a lot of pressure on myself to be the best I can be. But I'm told often that I'm too hard on myself. I'm trying to balance my focus on technique with the enjoyment of dancing and the artistry that evolves with it.
How do you conquer negative talk?
I personally get caught up in loops of frustration when a step or combination doesn't look correct, and will often think negatively of myself and my dancing. I'm trying to break these habits and simply observe and correct rather than judge. Even when I get into this place, my love of dancing always pulls me through.
What is your favorite quote?
Norman Vincent Peale — "Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars."
So, what’s next? Any big plans?
I'll be competing at YAGP this year, and I have a few other ballet competitions I'm thinking about doing. My dream is to dance professionally. My dream company is probably ABT or TWB.