Ballet Dreams

Anna Paterniti, 14, resident of Jamestown, and daughter of David and Kristina Paterniti, is going on to tackle the next step toward achieving her dream of becoming a professional ballet dancer. She has been accepted into the 2014 Summer Intensive Program at BalletMet Columbus, joining more than 140 other young dancers from across the nation in training at one of the nation’s largest studios associated with a professional company.

Such an accomplishment is particularly impressive given the fact that, while she has been studying dance since she was in the third grade, she has only been taking ballet lessons for three years, beginning when she was 11. In this short amount of time, however, she has quickly developed into a dancer capable of being selected into a program that holds auditions throughout the country.

The program is meant to prepare its students for the life of a professional dancer. The students practice for six and a half hours every day, Monday through Friday, during which time they will learn to develop technical abilities and understanding, focusing on artistry, technique and musicality. Students are even offered the opportunity to study other forms of dance, such as jazz and tap, in addition to ballet. Anna will also be taking enrichment courses in dance history, dancer wellness, music, yoga and acting. The classes are led by instructors who have danced with companies around the world.

Anna auditioned last month in Syracuse, and a video recording of the audition was sent to the studio in Columbus where she was selected by the judges.

While the level of commitment is sure to be challenging, Anna is already well accustomed to dancing five days every week at the Studio Dance Conservatory in Jamestown, run by Libby Nord, where she also teaches dances classes for younger students.

While Anna’s mother, Kristina, is understandably nervous about her daughter spending a month away from home, she is very proud of her daughter and excited about the new opportunities being opened up to her through the program.

“When she dances, there is just this fluidity, like she gets to be herself on stage,” Kris said. “She doesn’t just go through the motions; it’s what she truly loves to do.”

Anna, who attends Jamestown High School and also plays trumpet in the marching band, loves ballet for these same reasons.

“I like being able to express myself through dancing,” she said.

While confident in her abilities and very passionate about ballet, Anna still needs more time to decide whether she wants to make a career out of ballet or to simply continue dancing as a hobby.

“I think I will be able to figure that out this month at the program,” she said. “I think dancing six hours almost every day will help me to decide whether I want to do this for the rest of my life.”