Raising The Barre

Hometown teen Emma Krusling pursues her ballerina dreams

Since she began classes at three years old, West Chester's Emma Krusling has dreamed of doing what she loves most—pirouettes, pliés and arabesques onstage as a professional ballet dancer. Now, she is dancing her way to her dreams in a unique program at Cincinnati Ballet's Otto M. Budig Academy.

Krusling’s dance teacher at a local studio was instrumental in helping her follow her passion. After years of classes, the teacher encouraged her to find a more intense program in 2016.

“Mary St. Romain, Director at SDA Studios, sent me off with her blessing to Cincinnati Ballet Academy,” Krusling recalls.

Only one year later, at the young age of 16, Krusling’s dreams fell into reach when she was invited into the inaugural year of Cincinnati Ballet’s Professional Training Division (PTD). PTD is a rigorous program of instruction and rehearsal, modeled after the professional company’s schedule. It includes immersion in a wide repertoire of classes and coaching with the opportunity to train and dance with Cincinnati Ballet’s Second Company and even its professional Company, if selected by staff.

“Getting that letter in the mail to be in the Training Program was seeing my dreams coming true,” Krusling shares. “All of a sudden, I was going from picking what classes I wanted to take the next year in high school to imagining spending every day at the studio. It was a huge step. I didn’t think something like this would be even possible for me until after I graduated high school.”

As precise as it is graceful, ballet requires a commitment to training and technique. Krusling works full days in the studio and rehearsals.

“We dance from 9 a.m. until 5:45 p.m., Monday through Friday. Some days I just have to come home and collapse,” she says with a laugh and a sigh.

“The thing with ballet is that no dancer is perfect. Even the simple stuff we do every day, like a plié—we do ten million of them—but there’s always something to improve,” she says.

A senior at Lakota West High School, Krusling fits in her academic studies and social life around her daily focus on dance.

“I take all of my studies through Cincinnati State, so I am getting high school and college credit right now,” she explains. “I do classes online, at night and on the weekends. On Fridays, if I’m lucky, I’ll maybe go out with friends. I don’t get to do that as often as I’d like, but I like staying connected with them.”

Krusling is currently planning for her next stage.

“I’ve applied to colleges, auditioning for dance programs and I’ll also be auditioning to companies across the country. I’m excited to find my place—that wants me and that I fit into—to perform, and share what I love.”

She so enjoys what she is doing that Krusling doesn’t view her busy lifestyle as a sacrifice, but rather a gift.

“I feel blessed. I’m extremely happy to be pursuing what I want to do and meeting all of these other dancers from across the country,” she says. “I love performing.”

Check Out A Performance

Emma Krusling is currently learning dance parts for The Sleeping Beauty, as performed by Cincinnati Ballet this month.

Choose from six performances, February 14-17, 2019.

For ticket information, go to CBallet.org.

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