I first came to PVB because my sister’s best friend, Isabel Darmon-Weiss, was dancing Snow in The Nutcracker one year and I was so inspired by her. I knew then that I had to dance. I came to the community auditions for Cinderella when I was eight. Right after, I discovered how much I loved ballet and came to classes, and then PVB became my second family for the next seven years. I was a scholarship student for the first few years, which was a big help.

Young Amelie Stevent

Amelie Stevens as a young dancer, backstage in PVB’s The Nutcracker.

Ballet was incredibly hard for me. I started kind of late, and when I first came to PVB I was at the bottom of the class. I was the kid who always a little behind and distracted. I have ADHD, so it was hard for me to stay focused and pick up the harder combinations. Also, I don’t have a typical ‘ballet body,’ so I knew I had to work harder than everyone else. I started taking extra classes, practicing at home and doing private lessons with the Co-Artistic Director, Tom.  I wasn’t always getting the best roles, but I knew I was improving.

Amelie Stevens Airport

Amelie strikes a pose at the airport.

When I was 12 or 13, teachers encouraged me to try summer intensives, and so I went to Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet at 13, then Walnut Hill last year, and finally this past summer, to Ballet Chicago, where I was invited to join their year-round professional training division and studio company. I accepted and moved to downtown Chicago this fall, and I’m now living in a dorm with other dancers, studying Balanchine ballet about 30 hours a week. My future goal is to dance in a Balanchine professional company, but I also want to go to college, so we’ll see.

Amelie Stevens Ballet Chicago

Amelie training at Ballet Chicago.

Pioneer Valley Ballet taught me way more than dance. It taught me to be focused, disciplined and respectful. It taught me that if you love something, you have to work for it and never give up, even if it doesn’t come naturally. It also gave me an amazing group of friends, and taught me how amazing it is to part of something bigger, where everyone is working to make something beautiful. Thank you, Pioneer Valley Ballet!


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