We are very excited to introduce you to new Zarely Rising Star, Jessica Xuan, who is currently a Coryphée with the Dutch National Ballet. Jessica defines herself as a perfectionist (to the extent of almost being merciless to one’s errors) and she is immensely inspired by principal dancers and Zarely Role Models – Vanessa Zahorian from San Francisco, Ana Sophia Scheller of New York City Ballet, Galina Mihaylova from Ballet Zurich and Amber Scott from Australian Ballet. Like many young ballerinas Jessica aims to discover their secrets to ultimate artistry and flawless performance. That is already a perfect start!
“I started doing ballet at the age of 12 and that was totally my own decision”, – recalls Jessica. “I guess, my parents wanted me to become a lawyer or a doctor. My mom is a piano teacher, so music has always been a part of my life. I could never sit still whenever a beautiful music was playing. I would jump off and start improvising dancing movements immediately. The first time I saw ballet was during a field trip with my elementary school. I was so excited and inspired by the performance that I had set myself a clear-cut goal – to become a professional ballet dancer.”
Jessica’s take on ballet career are surprisingly mature: “I believe staying in the professional ballet world is one of the hardest jobs ever. Dancers love what they do extremely. So they literally push themselves beyond the limits of what other people imagine possible. There are lots of things that make ballet difficult but for me the worst part is being that hard on myself as I am. I’m a perfectionist, so I’m obsessed with the details that went wrong instead of seeing the whole way I managed. Actually, this desire to reach my own definitions of perfection pushes me into the studio every day.”
“I admire all principal dancers and I am convinced each of them has something unique and special. So I’d love to know how they reach that point where everything (body, artistry, musicality, technique, etc.) becomes just perfect? I guess the answer is lots of years of hard work. But when I watch principals rehearse and perform they seem so magical and surreal to me. And that question pops into my head again and again”.
Vanessa Zahorian, principal dancer form San Francisco:
“It does take years and years of training by taking class at least 6 times a week and rehearsing. I’m dancing professionally for 20 years but every day I am still learning something new about myself and perfect my expertise as a ballerina. My goal is to become the best I can be for myself. And this daily pursuit is a constant challenge of itself. I love learning from others and I never skip classes. It’s essential to my body to do class before I rehearse and perform. I wear my pointe shoes in the center and that helps me strengthening my balance on flat and on pointe. Stretching before class is imperative. I don’t really do any other forms of workouts besides ballet because ballet has everything in it. My greatest challenge is to make my upper body look light and airy with no strain while my legs work sharply with attack and energy and speed”.
Galina Mihaylova, principal dancer with Ballet Zurich: “It’s all about practicing in a smart way. You should pay attention to details, which is a definition of perfection to me. And, of course, your passion and love will bring you to higher quality. This is a path full with pain, but I guess you already know that”.
Ana Sophia Scheller, principal dancer with New York City Ballet: “The more you practice, the more coordination you have. The artistry could be something you are born with or you can develop it with time. Being a principal dancer means to be responsible and keep growing through all your weaknesses. Most of dancers love what they do so commitment and working hard comes naturally”.
Amber Scott, principal dancer from Australia: “In ballet the daily quest for excellence never stops until the day you retire! In fact, every time a principal artist learns a new role or a part of new choreography, he or she feels like starting anew. You go through the ugly duckling phase where everything seems a battle, limbs don’t coordinate, partnering is awkward and there’s little room left for artistry. But, with perseverance, patience and lots of rehearsal those problems fade and you “find yourself” in whatever style is required. The process is just as important as the apparent seamless performance at the end. Experimentation, failure and an open mind are integral to shape an artist’s interpretation”.
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