Every person has some sort of goal they reach for. Of course, these aspirations vary from person to person, but generally small steps need to be taken in order to get there rather than waking up one day and having all your dreams appear right in front of you. But what if you could have a taste of the dream even as a teenager?
That's what one local dancer is experiencing as she's learning what it's like to be part of a professional company.
Eva Alt, 16, a former student of Sacred Heart Academy, left her home in Williamsville during her sophomore year last January to study with the Boston Ballet. She will continue to study there for this school year as well.
She has been dancing since the age of 5 and considers the American Academy of Ballet in Williamsville her "home studio," where she developed her love for dance. Even from a young age, she took part in many of the academy's productions and was cast as the lead role in "The Nutcracker" during middle school.
Eva has always loved to dance, but at age 13, it became more serious and she wanted to do whatever she could to be better. She extended her training as she took part in five-week summer intensive programs in various parts of the nation such as Seattle, Chautauqua and New York City.
Attending the School of American Ballet, located in New York City, was a very rewarding experience for Eva.
"SAB opened my eyes to the world of ballet, and it's in New York, the epicenter of ballet in the world. It's part of a history that produced so many of the world's greatest dancers," she said.
Eva always looked forward to attending the summer programs each year and decided she wanted to take it a step further. At age 15, Eva wanted more exposure in the world of ballet and got accepted in the preprofessional program with the Boston Ballet. There, she dorms with other dancers in the program and has at least four hours of dance classes a day, six days a week. Not only does she participate in classes in the city, she also attends performances by the company and has performed in two productions with members of the company.
She says one of her most rewarding experiences was to be able to dance at the Boston Opera House, which seats more than 2,600 people.
"I love the environment and it feels like I'm right at home on stage," said Eva.
When she's not dancing, she is attending school. But she doesn't attend a traditional high school; she actually takes her classes online, which was a bit of an adjustment. Even without sitting in a structured classroom, she has a certain amount of classes to take daily, and she still gets homework. The main difference is that the online school allows more flexibility in her schedule, and many others in the dance program participate in it as well.
"It's very exciting to be able to dance with one of the nation's greatest ballet companies, but it's a whole different adventure working your way around a new city with no one else that you know," she said.
The dorms are in a central location in the city, and Eva and her new friends she has made have been able to take time and enjoy what Boston has to offer.
"It's been so fun to explore all of the great places to eat and shop," Eva said. "I really like change, and I wanted a new experience rather than just being seen by more than just those in the local area.
"I have another family in Boston. I have been able to make good friends because of our common love for ballet," she said.
It might sound like fun and games when it comes to the dancing, but dancers are quite prone to injury if they are not careful. Earlier this year, Eva sprained her foot and was unable to dance for a month. She rolled her foot in class and had to wear a cast boot.
"It was hard and you start to miss the way you think when you're unable to dance," said Eva.
After high school, Eva hopes to pursue a career in dance and become a professional ballerina. Once she graduates, she wants to work her way into joining a professional company, but she's still keeping her options open. If she isn't dancing, she'd like to pursue a job in the fashion world.
No matter how many different performances she has participated in, Eva's love for performing has never faded. Whether it is in a small or gigantic auditorium, the thrill follows her and the energy from the audience makes her feel alive, she says.
"When you have that one moment in time, you're going to give it everything you have! You're going to trust in your technique and in your love for ballet," Eva said.
Natalie Foster is a senior at Williamsville East High School.