Student fulfills dream of becoming a ballerina

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Photos by Rich Dionne Brittany Cavaco of East Providence is fitted for a costume by ballet instructor Vera Kurmasheva at Ballet Prestige. She will star as Odette in the dance company's 2013 Spring Performance of Swan lake at St. Andrew's School on June, 8, at 4 p.m.

Photos by Rich Dionne
Brittany Cavaco of East Providence is fitted for a costume by ballet instructor Vera Kurmasheva at Ballet Prestige. She will star as Odette in the dance company’s 2013 Spring Performance of Swan lake at St. Andrew’s School on June, 8, at 4:30 p.m.

Every little girl dreams of becoming a ballerina, the pink tutus and ballet slippers draw them in as they dance around the kitchen in their home with tiara in place. But not all of them have the discipline, ambition and natural talent to dance at a professional level. Brittany Cavaco, 17, of East Providence has been studying dance since she was 3 years-old. She currently dances at Ballet Prestige in Barrington, a Russian Style Ballet Studio, owned by worldwide ballet professionals Vera Kurmasheva and Zhanat Baidaralin of Russia. The school teaches a form of ballet called the Vaganova Method, which involves the whole body in every movement, with equal attention paid to the upper body, legs and feet. Brittany will star as Odette, the Swan Princess, in the ballet company’s spring performance of Swan Lake at St. Andrew’s School on Saturday, June, 8, at 430 p.m. The talented dancer will graduate with first honors from LaSalle Academy in Providence and has been accepted to train with Ellison Ballet in their summer intensive in NYC.

Dreams of being a ballerina

When I was little, I was so captivated by the pointe shoes that my first ballet teacher, Mrs. Herci Marsden, wore. My dream was to someday be able to wear pointe shoes and dance as gracefully on them as she did.

Dance or sports

I was put into ballet when I was 3 years-old. My Mother always wanted to be a dancer but never got the opportunity so she was determined to at least make me try ballet and I am sure happy that she did, because I am too clumsy for any other sport.

Donated pointe shoes

Many ballet dancers donate a pair of their used pointe shoes and sign them. Then sell or give them to young dancers. Its the equivalent of catching a baseball and having your favorite player sign it. I remember when my mother surprised me with a pair of signed pointe shoes, it may have been one of the happiest moments of my childhood. They were absolutely disgusting and worn out but I cherished them as if they were made out of gold.

Broken ankles and flexibility

When I was 6 years-old, I took a year off after I broke both of my ankles. One right after the other! The fractured the first one on a trampoline and the second one after tripping and falling. When I went back to ballet I was the most inflexible person on the face of the earth. I remember having to sit in my splits for two minutes each and I remember how painful it was. Ballet especially the Vagonova method is challenging to learn as a little kid. By age 9, I had to know all the French vocabulary and was tested on it often. I had to work very hard to get the ballet body I have now. As an elementary student, I would sleep in a split and stand on my toes for a long period of time. Never the less I went through phases where I absolutely hated ballet. There were times where I felt I could never get to where I wanted to be because it was to painful and time consuming.

Motivation

At age 11, I often would get made fun of because I was (behind a class) and not as caught up as everyone else and it was really hard. Nevertheless I was able to grow a lot from this. Having motivation to be as good as everyone else in my class, who were much older, pushed me to grow very quickly.

At school

I am almost positive that everyone who knows me, knows that I am a ballet dancer. In school I dance from class to class and can’t hold a conversation without doing a simple combination with my legs or feet. Embarrassingly sometimes I subconsciously stretch while sitting. All of my friends support my dancing. They know I am very serious about it and that it is my passion.

Inspiration

Honestly it all becomes worth it the moment you step on stage. The audience is essentially my inspiration. I connect really well with them. When I see people watching me dance with life in their eyes and complete focus, I get this feeling that is indescribable. It is (a feeling) of utter bliss. I know in that moment that every time I wanted to give up and all the hard work I put into it, is finally worth it. Its really hard to describe the feelings I get on stage but I can assure you that they are worth all of the bad and good days I have had in preparing for that moment.

Practice

When we are rehearsing for performances, I am at the studio almost every day before and after my regular weekly classes. I dance five days a week at Ballet Prestige. I also dance once a week at Festival Ballet and take Pilates and or Anti gravity Yoga on my off day. It comes out to about twenty- one hours a week.

Family

My mother and father have sacrificed so much for my ballet training. My mother used to drive from work to pick me up from school and bring me to ballet. She would then go home and prepare dinner, bring it to me and then wait until I got out of ballet. Five days a week! My mom works on my costumes, picks up pointe shoes and helps me in whatever way she can to ease my life. I am so thankful for her and without her I would not be where I am today.

Ballet teachers

I am so incredibly lucky to be taught by such wonderful, devoted and knowledgeable people like Vera and Zhanat (at Ballet Prestige). Vera is one of the sweetest, spunkiest and funniest people you will ever meet. She always looks beautiful and will stay before or after class to rehearse with you at the drop of a dime. Zhanat is so kind hearted, witty and encouraging. He will push you further than you think you can sometimes bare, but through him you will grow. Together they make the perfect couple both as teachers and husband and wife. Rehearsal sometimes gets interesting, if they disagree on choreography, but together they are able to produce wonderful dancers. Their love for ballet is the most inspirational. You can tell that everything they do is for us at Ballet Prestige.

Ellison Ballet

I was accepted to dance with Ellison Ballet this summer. Ellison Ballet is my dream school. Before I auditioned I had first seen dancers of Ellison Ballet at an International Ballet competition. I had fallen in love with their attention to detail and their effortless movement and captivating presence on stage. I spent one day at Ellison Ballet and completely fell in love with the ballet academy. If I am selected this summer, I hope to dance with their ballet company next year!

What advice would you give to young ballerinas?

DONT GIVE UP! Especially during middle school when you can go through awkward stages. There will be times when you feel like you won’t ever amount to a good dancer. If you love ballet, do not worry. I was once called, “Happy feet.” But, through lots of determination and sweat, I pushed through that stage and it ultimately was so worth it. I promise you it will be for you too!

Tickets for the June 8, performance of Swan Lake at St. Andrew’s School at 4 p.m. are still available at balletprestige.com

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