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What I've Learned, | Jan 04, 2014

Hailey Stegemoller, ballet dancer

This teen lets her body do the talking.

Hailey Stegemoller, 13, is in the most advanced level of the Pre-College Ballet Program at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University in Bloomington. She has danced at the School of American Ballet’s summer program in New York twice on full merit scholarship. /Photo courtesy of Kelly Stegemoller

Beyond typical teenage behaviors such as shopping at the mall with her friends, 13-year-old Hailey Stegemoller focuses on one thing - ballet. She enrolled in the Pre-College Ballet Program through the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University in Bloomington when she was five. Since then, she has participated in the School of American Ballet's summer program in New York twice on full merit scholarship. Now at the most advanced level of ballet at Jacobs, she shares with 812 how to stay en pointe.

Getting out of your comfort zone is a great way to gain knowledge.

I took part in summer intensive programs away from home to train more. We got to meet famous teachers and dancers from the New York City Ballet. There are new teachers, new people in your class you have to work with, new techniques you have to learn to use and adapt to. And being away from home is a different situation. It's challenged my artistry to let go but still have strong technique and make it look effortless even though it's not.

Everything is easier with a support system.

My friends in the studio at Jacobs are great for guidance. They help you become a better dancer because they push you. They can help you do corrections if they're better on one step than you. We've been together for a long time, so we all know each other. Having ties of friendship is great because they're always going to be there and help you through things.

Taking advantage of educational opportunities is key.

It's great to have live music during class at Jacobs. Most schools use CDs, but this prepares us for performances, and we get used to a live audience. It's also great to have a big stage because we're able to move a lot and aren't stuck in a small space.

Keeping a positive attitude can help you overcome challenges.

One of my biggest challenges was not getting the role of Clara for The Nutcracker, but you have to learn to deal with it and work toward the next one. Your chance will come some other time. It's nice to get recognition because you know you're improving and doing well. It gives you self-confidence, so you push yourself further into technical training. I was chosen to be Cinderella for the Pre-College Program's ballet last spring, and it showed me I have grown a lot, enough to get the main role in a ballet.

Ballet enriches life in other ways.

Ballet is a nice way to move and feel free. It's a good stress reliever. I get into the studio, and everything outside class goes away. I'm able to move and be artistic. I've found my creative self through ballet, and I'm able to express myself through the steps and motions. I really enjoy diving at the IU Outdoor Pool, and the flexibility with ballet helps with diving. The agility helps it come more naturally.

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