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 workâ€¦
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 Iâ€™ve attended for the past two years, takes 20 girls each year and runs for seven weeks.
Iâ€™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 Balanchineâ€™s â€˜Serenade,â€™ 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 itâ€™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 thatâ€™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. Iâ€™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?Â
Iâ€™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 canâ€™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 Iâ€™m grateful for all of the support Iâ€™ve received from my family and my teachers at school that has led me to where I am today.
Who is your role model?
Iâ€™ve honestly never thought about this before, but my role model is definitely my mom. Sheâ€™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 Iâ€™m older, I will be able to emulate that.