When Grace Smotrich was just 3 years old, she discovered that she had both talent and a love for dance. Starting out at the Winthrop School of Performing Arts testing out a variety of different dance styles, the now high school senior, became serious about ballet when she was 10 years old, transferring out of town to highly-selective dance school that centered specifically around ballet.
In 2014, Smotrich auditioned for the Pre-Professional Program at Boston Ballet School, where she was accepted and has been ever since. She is no stranger to hard work and adapted to a strict ballet training schedule, which requires her to leave school at 1 p.m. several days a week. In the interview below, the 18-year-old chats with the Sun Transcript about education, ballet and the pay-off of hard work…
How do you manage to juggle school and your intense ballet schedule?
I am incredibly thankful that Winthrop High School (WHS) is willing to accommodate my Pre-Professional schedule. In addition to my year-round training, it is a requirement that I train over the summer as well. I have attended summer intensives which are five weeks of all-day dancing, at both Boston Ballet School and Chautauqua Institution. Chautauqua Institution is a gated community in upstate New York for various art forms. Their Festival Dance Program, which I’ve attended for the past two years, takes 20 girls each year and runs for seven weeks.
I’ve performed in more than 50 performances of The Nutcracker with Boston Ballet at the Boston Opera House, and four performances of Next Generation, which is a one-night-only show done annually at the Boston Opera House to showcase the Pre-Professional Program. This past summer at Chautauqua Institution, I was fortunate enough to have been able to perform in George Balanchine’s ‘Serenade,’ staged by Kennedy Center Honoree Patricia McBride, along with various other pieces of choreography.
A lot of discipline and balance goes into being a top student and a committed dancer. Balancing school and ballet training at this level requires a lot of discipline, so it’s a good thing that I love both so much. With having two areas of my life that I am passionate about comes sacrifice, but I know that’s not specific to just me. Overall, I think that not often falling victim to procrastination is what allows me to stay on top of everything. I’m naturally a routine-oriented person, so I try to follow a quite regimented schedule on a day-to-day basis to ensure that I meet deadlines at school and am prepared for my ballet classes. Thankfully, I can read and write in the car, so I utilize that time as well.
What other activities are you involved in?
I’m a second-year member of National Honor Society (NHS). Unfortunately, since I either leave school early or have to leave for ballet right at the final bell, I can’t participate in any clubs after school, although I have always wished that I could.
Any plans for college?
In the Fall of 2019, I will be attending Barnard College of Columbia University to major in neuroscience. The school is incredibly special to me; in terms of school and ballet, Barnard has my uniquely perfect balance of the two. Not only is the newly inaugurated president a cognitive neuroscientist in addition to the fact that Columbia University is one of the top places to study neuroscience, but I will also be able to continue dancing and performing at a high caliber in the Columbia Dance Collaborative. I find it uncanny how perfect Barnard is for me and I’m grateful for all of the support I’ve received from my family and my teachers at school that has led me to where I am today.
Who is your role model?
I’ve honestly never thought about this before, but my role model is definitely my mom. She’s undoubtedly one of the most hardworking people that I know, balancing both a successful career and making sure that my brother and I have everything that we need to succeed as well. She has done a wonderful job of teaching my brother and I the value of hard work. It is my hope that when I’m older, I will be able to emulate that.