Senior Katya P. was elated a few months ago when she learned that she was chosen to represent the United States at one of the world’s most prestigious ballet competitions: Prix de Lausanne 2020.
The exciting competition was held earlier this month in Montreux, Switzerland. The majority of dancers applied via video submission, and were chosen by a jury of nine dance judges from around the world who evaluated 377 dancers from 44 countries.
“Growing up as a ballet dancer, I watched the international Prix de Lausanne competitions and it was my dream to participate one day,” Katya recounted. “Last fall, I worked with my ballet teacher, Inna Bayer, to prepare and record a video application. A month later, I received an email that I was accepted! I was so excited but also worried if I would be able to prepare in just three months while keeping up with my college applications and academic program at school.”
The week-long Prix de Lausanne event hosted 77 candidates from 27 countries. The dancers took classical and contemporary classes for five days. Each dancer presented on stage one classical and one contemporary solo.
“The event was far more than just a competition—it was an opportunity to network with international ballet schools and companies,” Katya said. “I worked with incredibly experienced, world-renowned ballet teachers including Elizabeth Platel, the director of Paris Opera Ballet School. I met and was inspired by talented young dancers from all over the world.”
Katya added that the experience also had a few challenges.
“I quickly had to adapt to new, unfamiliar dance styles, fight jet lag, and overcome nervousness and self-doubt about the performance,” she explained.
Katya has been dancing since she was four years old at the Bayer Ballet Academy in Mountain View. She has pirouetted to the pre-professional level, which means dancing for at least three hours, five days a week.
“After school, I typically rush to the ballet studio and have class most days until around 9 p.m.,” she noted. “I often squeeze in about an hour of homework before my classes, but finish most of my work once I get home, before school, or during lunch.”
Balancing pre-professional ballet training with high school academics has forced Katya to stay focused and manage her time efficiently. In addition to her regular high school commitments, there are many performances and competitions.
“I am so grateful for the support I have received at Nueva—from my teachers offering tutoring hours and extending project deadlines to my classmates sharing their notes and taking time to explain concepts I missed,” Katya said. “This year was the most challenging for me because of the heavy ballet performance and competition schedule and college applications.”
Although she has applied to biotech college programs, Katya just might take a gap year to pursue one of her greatest dreams—dancing in Europe.
“It would enable me to get a feel for the daily life of a professional ballerina,” she said. “It is a hard decision to choose between a professional ballet company and my passion for biology and engineering; they both fuel me intellectually and creatively. I am very excited to learn what the future will bring.”