My name is Sophia Rose Centurioni. I am 14 years old and I dance with Pavlova Professional Coaching in Dallas Texas.

My Instagram handle is @sophia_rose_centurioni

Photographer: @rhileephotog

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

Technically, I started dancing at 2 years old at the rec center. I then moved to a big dance studio and was on their mini pom squad. I loved performing on the stage so much. In 2nd grade, I moved to a competition studio and that is where I fell in love with ballet. I caught a glimpse of a YAGP rehearsal, and from that day on, I asked for more ballet classes. The road to finally focusing on ballet was long, and it had twists and turns. There are times I wish I had made the switch sooner, but I always try to trust the plan, and I always finish what I start.
I think it is important to note that when I started in competition dance, no one really thought I had it in me. I was actually surprised I made the team and got cast in dances. At the end of the first season, one teacher commented, “if I knew this is how far you’d come this year, I would have cast things differently…”. I spent two years at a studio that I thought would help me move more into ballet, but after that, I landed at a massively successful competition with a ballet teacher I loved and trusted. I was lucky enough to spend 5 weeks at Ballet West at the height of the pandemic in 2020, and that opportunity really showed me what ballet could be like. I spent last year honing a pro versus con list and finally decided to focus on my ballet training with Pavlova Professional Coaching. It was a now or never type deal. I thought about going back to school full time and dancing at night, but the pull to learn ballet was so strong. I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity. It is one I do not take lightly, and I am proud of myself for taking the risk.

Photographer: @nicoleroseportraits

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 way! I have always been the underdog, and many times I have been overlooked. Nothing was handed to me. My road has been marked with hard work, extra work, and spending a ton of time at home practicing things that come naturally for my peers. My parents cleared the furniture out of the way so I could run solos and dances. I was up before school to practice, and I would run things again late at night. I am proud of that work ethic. I am often told that I am the hardest worker in the room. I don’t say that to boast. It’s the truth. I started with zero talent. It would have been easier to quit, but I prefer to finish things and dig deep.

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

I just wanted to dance and really couldn’t even skip across the stage when I started. The dance community in Dallas is so talented. There are gifted dancers everywhere you look, and they are super competitive, which can be very intimidating. I quickly saw how hard work and dedication would have to become things that I leaned on. I am not over flexible. I am not a tumbler (since when was this a requirement to dance?) and so I had to put in tons of extra time. I have built a wonderful village over the years of teachers and mentors that have helped me navigate my limitations. Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t do something! If it’s in your heart, you have to keep going. Show up every day, be prepared, be eager and take things seriously.

Photographer: @nicoleroseportraits

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

It’s no secret that I love ballet. I love to watch ballets and read about the history. I listen to the scores, and I am very involved in how my pointe shoes are made. I have spent the last nine years studying all genres of dance, and to me, that has been limiting. To really master something, you have to do it full-time. I felt as though there was an assumption that I didn’t have the talent to just focus on ballet and that maybe my only place was on a competition dance team. I muddled through hip-hop classes while wishing I was taking ballet. I have been told to focus on Broadway because I will “never be a ballet dancer”. I have been told to just “move on” from my ballet dreams. Most recently, I was told that switching to full-time ballet was “not realistic” and I didn’t have much support at all from my peers or teachers. I know change is hard, but doing something that is no longer fun is hard too. I don’t understand why we can’t just support each other more in dance. I wasn’t happy where I was. There were tons of factors that went into that unhappiness, but you have to be happy in life. My parents acknowledge my limitations, but they believe in happiness. They see how happy I am with more ballet. They know my love for it. I have never set out to win things with this journey. I have always just wanted to get better and to progress. I hate how dance has become more about how many competitions you’ve won. Dance is much more than that to me.

Photographer: Olesja Mueller

How do you conquer negative talk?

There are two sides to negative talk, that voice in your head and the feedback you receive. This is the hardest part of the journey, dance is judged, and it is critiqued. I’ve been scrutinized about my weight, my talent (or lack thereof), what I eat...the list goes on and on. For me, I take notes, I journal, and I spend a ton of time chatting with my mom. We have a rule, “Only let things bother you for 5 minutes”. We do our best to stick to that, and it’s really helpful. My mom always has the best advice, we laugh a lot about the cruddy days. My goal is to have way more great days than bad ones. I also try to fill my heart with gratitude. You don’t have to believe your negative thoughts, change the storyline! Negativity is everywhere. Be careful you don’t get caught up in it. At the end of the day, dare to dream and be the hardest worker in the room, and that will make all the difference.

What is your favorite quote?

“One of the hardest lessons is letting go, whether it’s guilt, anger, love, loss, or betrayal. Change is never easy. We fight to hold on and we fight to let go." - Mareez Reyes
"But letting go is often the healthiest path forward. You have to free yourself from some things that once meant a lot to you, so you can move beyond the past and the pain it brings you.” - Marc and Angel

Photographer: @rhileephotog

So, what’s next? Any big plans?

It’s hard to say. I am knee-deep in a 180-degree turn in training. I left a huge competition studio for a small, semi-private, ballet-only situation. I am grateful for the opportunity to be learning from Olga Pavlova. It’s tougher than nails, but she is amazing to learn from. Her attention to detail is so inspiring. The girls I train with are so dedicated. They are the most supportive group I have ever been a part of. We all are on a mission to learn. It’s refreshing and freeing. I have to pinch myself every day when Miss Olga starts class. It’s like a dream come true. I have been wanting this for so long. I am just focusing on one day at a time. There are tons to learn. Some things come faster than others. I wish it would all change quickly (Olga does too!), but that is not part of my journey, so I will stick to taking challenging classes and soaking it all up while I can. I am in no rush. Yes, I have goals and things I’d love to do down the road. Right now, I am in a learning phase again. This part is messy and hard, but I can’t imagine it any other way. Life can change quickly, so you better be doing what you love each day!

Oct 9, 2021

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