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We continue introducing you to Zarely Rising Stars – aspiring young ballerinas and dancers who aim at conquering the world of professional ballet. The entire path lays ahead of them and it promises not being easy. Read the first interview of the series in case you missed it. And today, please welcome Sydney Dolan of Pennsylvania Ballet and Sophie Miklosovic – the student of The Art of Classical Ballet, Pompano Beach, Florida.

Team Zarely: Our first question is quite standard but we cannot omit it. How old were you when you first started ballet?

Sophie Miklosovic: I started training seriously when I was 12.

Sydney Dolan:Ever since I can remember, I have lived to perform! When I was 2 and 3 years old, I would dance anywhere I could go on for hours and hours. I was fortunate enough to try all sorts of performing arts classes from then on. I took ballet, jazz, violin, and drama. It was at 9 years old, that I started to really focus on ballet and I was fascinated by the artistry, the music, and the history.

Team Zarely: Was it you who came to your parents saying “I want to do ballet” or was it the other way around?

Sophie Miklosovic: I decided to be a ballerina myself. As a kid I was a competition dancer who always had a love for ballet. By the age of 12 I already knew that I must become a professional ballerina. So, I quit competition dance and focused only on ballet.

Sydney Dolan: For me it was the same – I couldn’t get enough of ballet so I attended a summer ballet intensive. The first day of that intensive, a highly respected guest ballet mistress who came for the program asked to speak with my parents. She told my parents that the only people who would stand in the way of my growth in ballet would be them! From that day forward, it was arranged for me to train with my former coach in a more rigorous program and I even began to homeschool online to allow me to focus on ballet as a potential career.

Team Zarely: What do you think is the hardest part of being a ballerina?

Sophie Miklosovic: I think the hardest part about being a ballerina is the mental aspect. It’s very challenging not only for your body, but for your mind as well. You have to be very strong mentally to make it in this world.

Sydney Dolan:Couldn’t agree more! For me I call it the mental stamina. I believe that the process and daily rigor is more of a mental challenge than physical sometimes. So I keep reminding to stay positive and keep my mind open even on your roughest days. If a day is exceptionally difficult for instance if I am asked to execute challenging choreography, my strategy is keeping optimism and knowing I can persevere through it.

Team Zarely: Who are the role models for you and what would you ask them if you had such an opportunity?

Sydney Dolan: I would ask Evgenia Obrastova what had been the biggest challenge about performing with the Mariinsky at such a young age? I think it would give me some strategies to apply to my current situation and help me navigate through these early years in a professional company!

Sophie Miklosovic: And my question would be for Iana Salenko – Zarely role model as well as mine. I wish to have a successful career and a family. So I wonder how she keeps a healthy balance between the family life and intense ballet career.

Team Zarely: How could we not invite Iana to this conversation! Iana, what is your secret to life balance? 

Iana Salenko, Prima ballerina with Berlin State Ballet: Having both – the ideal family life and career – is extremely challenging indeed! It seems to me that for a kid is great when his mother is happy in her career. My son is very supportive and loving. And my husband, Marian Walter, is a principal dancer, too. So he does understand me and the choices I have to make. And we have a nanny, too!

Generally my life motto is to make anything possible (even if others consider it unattainable). I just give my best for my family first and then give my best for my career. It is great to balance your life and successful career – no doubt about it! But being happy is more important.

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