As we sat on the airplane preparing for the take off of our arduous flight to San Francisco, my eyes closed and I suddenly was drawn back to a time many years prior. I was 12 years old and more excited than I had ever been. I was headed to the Kirov Academy of Ballet for a week to see how I liked boarding there.
I had already attended the summer program just 4 months earlier and was offered one of the few prestigious places at the year round program.
Kirov was like a mecca for young dancers wanting to make it as a professionals. Ballet, academics, and living quarters were all housed in a gorgeous facility on the outskirts of North Capitol in Washington DC. It was only 4 hours from San Francisco to Washington DC, but this was my first time flying alone and it would be my first time sleeping in a bed that wasn't mine without my parents nearby in a school that was one of the toughest and most elite in the United States.
It was a special time. Thousands of students auditioned for a spot every year, and here I was with being offered one of them. I had the opportunity to take class with one of the best teachers at the school, Anatoli Kucheruk. Little did I know at that time that I would be spending more time with Mr. Kucheruk over the 5 years that would follow than nearly anyone else in my life. 5 years of 5 hour ballet classes, 6 days a week.
For the next week I attended academics as if I was a member of the school, took what seemed like endless ballet classes and ate more poptarts than anyone ever should. I was in love and the thought of returning to my hometown of San Francisco again was heartbreaking.
It was in that week that I decided I wanted to be a professional dancer. I was finally amongst other young adults that shared my dreams and teachers who had lived them.
When I got off my flight back to San Francisco and hugged my parents they knew by the look in my eye that there was no other choice, I would be broken if I didn't attend t Kirov and they decided to move our family from the west coast to the east...a direction that my career would eventually mirror with my move to Vienna.
The plane jostled.
I awoke and we were a few hours out from San Francisco. The year was 2012. Marie-Claire had only been in surgery 3 weeks earlier. The future of our careers sat squarely across my shoulders. She couldn't audition with a broken foot, so I had to be good enough for both of us.
I always dreamed of one day dancing for San Francisco Ballet. But was I good enough?
We have a saying, Marie-Claire and I, that we like to jump and hope the net will catch us, and as I sat on that plane 36,000 feet in the air all I could do was trust in the net that would be Helgi Tomasson's decision 3 days later.