For Indigo Stevens, ballet classes at Miss Roberta’s ballet studio offer the stability and structure that are missing from her crazy home life. At almost 16, she hopes this is the year she will be accepted into the New York School of Ballet. First she must prove she’s ready, and that means ignoring Jesse Sanders – the cute boy with dimples who is definitely at the top of Miss Roberta’s List of Forbidden Things for Dancers.
But Jesse is the least of Indigo’s concerns. When she discovers her mom is an alcoholic, it simultaneously explains everything and heaps more worry on Indigo’s shoulders. As her mom’s behavior becomes increasingly erratic, Indigo fights to maintain balance, protect her younger brothers from abuse, and keep her mother from going over the edge. When the violence at home escalates, Indigo realizes she can no longer dance around the issue. At the risk of losing everything, she must take matters into her own hands before it’s too late.
A Day in The Life of Professional Ballet Student Indigo Stevens
Like all dancers at the New York School of Ballet, Indigo has a lot of work to do. Like any dancer at the top ballet school in the country her days are filled with ballet classes, rehearsals, and other add-ons like Pilates or yoga class. But she’s also a high school student, with all the same school requirements as anyone else. Add all of these things together and every day is a very long day.
Indigo is one of the lucky ones; the ballet studio and her home and school are all within walking distance so she doesn’t have to factor in (or deal with) public transportation (which is often unreliable at best). However, life still gets complicated with all the back and forth between NYSB and her school. She has to change back and forth from street clothes to ballet clothes each time, which adds to the complication (plus it’s not easy yanking off sweaty tights quickly).
Finding time to eat is also a challenge, but Indigo has learned to carry light snacks she can munch on the fly. Some of her favorites include energy bars (only if they are low in sugar and have a short list of ingredients), mixed nuts, dried fruit, and yogurt.
It’s only possible for her to attend school for two periods each day due to her heavy ballet schedule. Her school offers a work-around: home study courses. While this may seem like a great solution it means Indigo often has hours of homework after she gets home from a long day at the ballet studio.
It’s a good thing she loves what she does, otherwise she might not be able to keep up with her life. On her toughest days she turns to her favorite guilty pleasure: a frozen yogurt topped with carob chips and coconut.
Here is a typical day for Indigo:
6am: wake up. Sew ribbons on multiple pairs of pointe shoes while munching on health-conscious breakfast.
6:30am: contrast bath right foot to help heal tendonitis flare-up.
6:45am: pack dance bag, make sure to bring snacks, multiple sets of practice clothes, Tiger Balm to put on sore muscles.
6:55 am: finish English essay, half-written before falling asleep mid-sentence.
7:30 am: get dressed
7:40 am: put hair up in bun
8:10 am: load school back pack, walk ½ mile to school.
8:30-9:30 am: attend first period, hand in English essay.
9:35 am: walk ½ mile to NYSB.
10-11:30 am: morning class, studio A.
11:35 am: change back to street clothes
11:40 am: lunch on the fly while walking ½ mile back to school.
12:10-1:15 pm: Pre-Calculus with Dr. Phelps. Struggle to keep eyes open.
1:20 pm: walk ½ mile back to NYSB.
2:30-4 pm: Variations class with Madame Glinka
4:15-5:15pm: Pilates strength training
5:15pm: power snack
5:30-6:30 pm: Serenade rehearsal
6:35pm: change back to street clothes
6:45pm: walk ½ mile home
7:15-9:15pm: eat deli sushi while reading & completing assignment for History correspondence course
9:15-10:45pm: complete homework for pre-calculus, biology, French
total hours danced: 5 hours
total hours of school: 5 1/2 hours
total miles walked: 2 miles
As you can see, each day is jam-packed. Keep in mind dance classes are mandatory six days per week, with Sundays as the only day off, so there’s not much free time. But when this is the life you’ve chosen it’s a tough but thrilling ride.
Grier Cooper has performed on three out of seven continents with companies such as San
Francisco Ballet, Miami City Ballet, and Pacific Northwest Ballet, totaling more than thirty years of experience as a dancer, teacher and performer.
She blogs about dance in the San Francisco Bay Area and has interviewed and photographed a diverse collection dancers and performers including Clive Owen, Nicole Kidman, Glen Allen Sims and Jessica Sutta. She is the author of Build a Ballerina Body and the new ballet-based young adult novel, WISH. Grier can be reached through her website at http://www.griercooper.com
Grier began ballet lessons at age five and left home at fourteen to study at the School of American Ballet in New York. She has performed on three out of seven continents with companies such as San Francisco Ballet, Miami City Ballet, and Pacific Northwest Ballet, totaling more than thirty years of experience as a dancer, teacher and performer.
Her work has been praised as “poignant and honest” with “emotional hooks that penetrate deeply.” She writes and blogs about dance in the San Francisco Bay Area and has interviewed and photographed a diverse collection dancers and performers including Clive Owen, Nicole Kidman, Glen Allen Sims and Jessica Sutta. She is the author of Build a Ballerina Body and The Daily Book of Photography.