My name is Sydney Upchurch, and I am 15 years old. I am located in Cary, North Carolina and dance at Cary Ballet Conservatory.
Can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I was actually a competition kid for 2 seasons. My mom wanted me to stop that and start doing ballet at a ballet studio in a different town because she knew that was the core of all dancing. It’s funny because I didn’t want to do ballet at first, but after my first class, I was hooked. I completely fell in love with ballet and have never looked back. I’ve actually only done ballet for about 4 1/2 years. It’s been so much fun to learn and grow in this beautiful art form, and I can’t see myself doing anything else. All of my teachers have gotten me where I am today, and I will never stop soaking in all of their knowledge. My current teachers Mariaelena Ruiz, Heather Iler, and the rest of the Cary Ballet Conservatory faculty, are amazing. We learn to grow, even if that sometimes means going back to move forward. My teachers are phenomenal.
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 are not easy. I have worked really hard for this. Some of this has come naturally to me. I have always been athletic, for example. But I have had to train, train, and train some more to get where I am today.
What personal limitations if any did you go through in your young career?
I think the only personal limitation I have gone through is when I first started I would sometimes compare myself to others. You learn quickly not to do that. You are your own person, and you are your only competition. That’s very important to learn early on.
Has anybody ever tried to limit you on what you could do? If so how did you fight it?
No one has ever tried to limit me on what I could do. My teachers have actually done the opposite. They challenge me. I love it because it helps me grow.
How do you conquer negative talk?
Negative talk used to really bother me. Now not so much. I use to get very down on myself. But as I’ve learned and grown, I’ve come to realize that a negative mindset will lead to a negative outcome. You aren’t always going to have a good day, but I’ve learned that you can face those bad days with a good attitude. Anytime I am feeling down, I always push myself to keep going, and I take a second to remember how far I have come.
What is your favorite quote?
“If you can’t stop thinking about it, don’t stop working on it.” - Michael Jordan
So, what’s next? Any big plans?
I plan on staying at my home studio, Cary Ballet Conservatory, in the PTP program. I am hoping some big things will be in the works within the next year or two. Professionally, it is my dream to dance in Europe one day!