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Ballet Saved Me!

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It is difficult to write about myself and to explain who I am, especially at this stage in my  life  where I’m constantly learning about myself and my inner workings. Therefore, I have decided to write this story in third-person, so as to tell my story from an outsider’s perspective.     

 

Once upon a time,  in a  far-away  land near the Serbian-Bulgarian border, genocide raged in a small country where I am from. Houses were set aflame, children were crying, rape was a common occurrence, and people of all ages were being tortured and murdered. In the midst of this dark period, Serbian women were still giving birth. The hospital conditions were terrible and the future was uncertain, but the life cycle continued. On April 21st, 1997, on an ironically spring day, a girl was born. Twelve days after, fifty-eight family members had been killed. This girl was born in the midst of chaos, and she learned to flourish despite any obstacles that might come her way. 

 

This girl was lucky and blessed with a great family. She was going to be different; she was going to pursue a very different path from her peers. Her parents fled their country and found refuge in New Hampshire. They stayed in the United States for seven months 

before returning to their homeland, hoping that the newfound freedom after the war would bring peace to their beloved country. They hoped their children would live in a free country with new opportunities. However, the reality was much different and the transition phase from war to freedom was difficult for everyone. Despite living in an unstable country, this girl grew up with a warm, loving family. At the time, she did not know that she was growing up in a country that would not give her the opportunities she would need to fulfill her dreams. The girl’s family loved art, and they tried to educate and instill in their children love and positivity. One day, as the girl’s parents were watching TV, they motioned for the girl to join them. When she saw the TV screen, she was mesmerized. She saw beautiful dancers moving onstage, so graceful and magical. Seeing her fascination, her father started to explain the art form, and told her that the dancers were called ballerinas and that ballet is a beautiful art, a divine art. In those moments, the girl fell in love with ballet. 

 

 

Unfortunately, there were no schools or ballet studios in the city where the girl lived, and the studio in the capital of the country was too pricey for her parents to afford and also not safe due to the police hours when no one was allowed to be outside the house. However, this girl was lucky and this was meant to be her path, so a new door was opened. When she turned nine years old, a Czech ballerina married a man from her hometown and opened a studio not too far from the girl. The little girl was so excited to start ballet. The more she danced, the bigger her dreams became. She worked hard, and she was numb to her aches because she loved ballet so much. Each day, she fell more and more in love with ballet.  During those three hours at the studio, she truly felt like herself. The girl was a victim of bullying so she disliked going to school, but she found peace in ballet. The ballet teacher could see the unconditional love for ballet in the little girl’s eyes. The ballet teacher told her many times that she was going to be a prima ballerina when she grows up, and the little girl’s dreams grew bigger and stronger. Her destroyed self-confidence from school was flourishing again thanks to ballet. She grew up only dreaming about ballet; she felt like ballet was the only thing she could do best. 

 

When the time came for her to choose a major (it’s chosen in high school in Belgrade), the girl’s only wish was to continue her training in ballet. Eager to support their hard-working daughter, her parents drove her hours to the local Ballet Academy. She auditioned but the Director of the school didn’t like her. She told the little girl to give up ballet, she told her that her technique was the same as that of a fourth-grader in their academy, and that there was no chance for her to earn a spot in the Academy. The girl felt like her whole world had crashed.  She had worked hard every single day for four years, her parents had paid fees to encourage her passion, and she had just been told that her skill level was the same as that of a fourth-grade level. From a future prima-ballerina, she fell down to a fourth grader. She felt devastated. Only years later would the girl understand that the ballet teacher in her hometown had taught her in the wrong way. 

 

Although she thought of giving up, there was something inside the girl that didn’t let her do it, she couldn’t just give up that easy from the thing she loved the most. Despite the obstacles, her dad continued to encourage her to follow her dreams, even more fervently than before. Her dad found out that there was a ballet diploma available under the Music High School in the capital city, with ballet teachers from the National Ballet of Belgrade teaching the courses. After she enrolled and started classes, she realized that her peers did not know anything about ballet. This is because there were no elementary schools that taught ballet, only a high school. While training in high school, the Director of the National Ballet asked the girl to take ballet classes with the older students. He thought she was too advanced for the first year high school classes.  

 

The girl continued classes in high school and with more mature ballet performers, and she felt like she was on track again but never sure if she was getting the right training. In order to keep up with her schedule, the girl had to leave home and live with other college students when she was only 13 years old. There were no buses to take her back home, so that was her only option. At the end of her first year of high school, she was asked to dance in the premieres of the National Ballet Company. She started working with different choreographers from different countries around the world, and her knowledge and technique greatly improved. She started to find new dance styles and ways of working. The National Ballet Company did not have a permanent choreographer. Instead, they worked with four choreographers throughout the year and for four months after, worked alone. The girl knew this was not enough. She knew she was still on the process of learning so she wanted more work, she wanted professional teachers to train with, she wanted to work harder, she wanted to dance better, and with this in mind, she attempted to travel abroad. She wanted to do everything in her power to excel as a dancer, especially while she was still young.  She never felt like she belonged there. She  also wanted to do this because she knew how much her parents had sacrificed to support her dreams. Her parents saw that their daughter was strong, even when bullies or teachers tried to bring her down. They saw that their daughter held her head up high even when people were dishonest or cruel. They saw that their daughter worked hard even though her country did not give her the opportunities she needed to shine, opportunities dancers in different parts of the world might take for granted.  

 

This young and passionate girl for a long time felt like she didn't belong in her country and this feeling haunted her for a long time, so she decided to do something about this. She went to a festival in Vienna and got a scholarship to do a workshop in Chicago. She decided to do the workshop and to go to auditions for as long as she would be in Chicago. Before going to Chicago, luck knocked on her door. She met a choreographer from Chicago, Cheryl Traylor and told her about her plans and asked her for some advises about auditions, during the conversation Cheryl found out that the girl was a alone and she was going to stay in a hotel so she welcomed the girl in her house. The girl couldn't be happier so she  started the journey in Chicago. Now she is staying with Cheryl's mother, Ms. Susan, an amazing woman which is helping and supporting her in this journey far from her family, friends and all her loved ones.  

 

The girl did many auditions, and she got accepted in American Ballet Theatre's summer intensive, Meltzer Ballet School gave her 80% scholarship for their summer intensive and accepted her in their trainee program. She's overwhelmed. Her dream company was always American Ballet Theatre and she's hoping that after the summer intensive she will be called to join their Studio Company. 

 

In Belgrade you can't make much money also the expensive life of Chicago is not affordable for the salaries of Belgrade. 

 

The Traylor family is very generous, the girl is staying with them and is not paying rent or anything for food, but the girl is already having problems with finances. She payed half of the payment for ABT's summer intensive, and half of the payment for Meltzer's summer intensive, she needs help to pay for the rest, and also for the trainee program.

 

American Ballet Theatre summer intensive

Total Tuition - $1500

Half of it - $750 already paid,

Another $750 should be paid by May 1st, 2017.

 

Meltzer's Ballet School summer intensive  

Total Tuition including the 80% scholarship - $559.2 + $75 performance fee = $634.2,   

$400 already paid,

Another $275 should be paid, including a processing fee.

 

Meltzer's Ballet School trainee program

Total Tuition -$ 17,049

Performance fee- $600

International Visa Fee - $100

Not including housing, or meal plan.

 

Airplane Ticket to go back to my hometown in Belgrade, because of the tourist visa, I have to go back every six months - around $800.

 

Please, help this girl stay in the United States and make her dreams reality. This girl is also still in a tourist visa which means she will have to go back to her country every six months, so she might have to go back to Belgrade before she starts the summer intensives, in order finish the last week of the summer intensive, and perform on the performance in the end of the summer intensive with Belgrade. Going back to Belgrade will also cost her a lot. She would be very grateful to everyone who supports her. 

 

Anything helps. 

 

She really wants to stay in the United States, a wonderful place for her to learn new ways of moving, to be in an environment with the kind of discipline she always craved, to be in a place where opportunities and dreams are possible. Despite obstacles, this girl finds a crack in the door. Help her make her dreams reality...

 

Even just a motivational comment, would keep her going...

 

Thank you for taking your time to read my story!

 

Grateful for any support. :)

 

Help spread the word!

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Name Donate Amount Date
matt lind $40.00 June 05, 2017
jamie novick $70.00 June 05, 2017
omar abu $30.00 June 05, 2017
camilo rodriguez $45.00 June 05, 2017
kacper warda $50.00 June 05, 2017
kacper warda $95.00 June 05, 2017
tunbola ogunwande $75.00 June 05, 2017
mike kondrashin $60.00 June 05, 2017
anna kovalova $70.00 June 05, 2017
anna kovalova $20.00 June 05, 2017
maged adel $90.00 June 05, 2017
sam koren $80.00 June 05, 2017
john ferris $333.00 June 05, 2017
John Willams $15.00 June 05, 2017

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