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  • RIO ANDERSON: The point of ballet

  • is to make it look effortless.

  • But beneath all of that, it's the most difficult thing

  • I could imagine.

  • Ballet can completely break you, and it's pretty all or nothing.

  • INTERVIEWER: When did you start dancing?

  • RIO ANDERSON: I didn't start studying

  • ballet, seriously, at City Ballet School

  • until 14, which is pretty late.

  • A lot of girls start when they're like 6, 7, 8,

  • and I started in level three with the 11-year-olds.

  • INTERVIEWER: Did you ever feel dejected because you

  • were older, thinking that you had

  • to do so much more to catch up?

  • RIO ANDERSON: So I would leave the class almost every day

  • and go cry in the bathroom before coming back in,

  • because the 11-year-olds were so talented.

  • And it was really depressing, and I thought

  • about quitting all of the time.

  • INTERVIEWER: What kept you going?

  • RIO ANDERSON: It's hard because you don't

  • see improvement day to day.

  • But eventually, you see just a glimpse,

  • and that feels so good when you can see that you've

  • accomplished something.

  • INTERVIEWER: Tell me about some of the competitions

  • that you've won.

  • RIO ANDERSON: This year, we did participate in the Youth

  • America Grand Prix.

  • It's the biggest student ballet competition in the world,

  • and I ended up winning the silver medal.

  • So I received a scholarship to the Royal Ballet School.

  • I was accepted to Harvard this year,

  • but I'm choosing to defer.

  • INTERVIEWER: And how difficult is

  • it to get into the Royal Ballet School?

  • RIO ANDERSON: I think it's harder than Harvard.

  • It's definitely a dream come true.

  • INTERVIEWER: You have a very distinct ritual when it comes

  • to performance and ballet.

  • Can you tell me about that?

  • RIO ANDERSON: So part of the ritual

  • for me is a very set routine for preparing your body.

  • And in doing such a repetitive and specific warm-up,

  • you also get your mind into that sort of zen zone.

  • I just sit down, close my eyes, and then I

  • rehearse my dance in my head.

  • Sometimes I'll put in earbuds, but the music

  • activates the muscle memory when you're dancing.

  • I like to visualize all the dancing,

  • go through each step in my mind, just thinking

  • about the movements, and also, really

  • train to feel them in my body.

  • You do the ideal in your head and hope it translates.

  • INTERVIEWER: What pressure are you under?

  • How high are the stakes for you?

  • RIO ANDERSON: As a student, each performance

  • matters so much, because you just don't have as many,

  • in the competitions.

  • You only have one chance on stage.

  • It's a lot of pressure.

  • The visualization is so important, because it shows me

  • what I'm going for, what I'd like the performance to be.

  • And I get really nervous.

  • So if my mind goes blank onstage,

  • the muscle memory kicks in, because your body

  • recognizes what's going on and what's going to happen.

  • INTERVIEWER: What lessons have you learned about success?

  • RIO ANDERSON: The most surprising thing, for me,

  • has just been that success can come.

  • When I started and I was nowhere near the top of my class,

  • I never imagined any of this.

  • I really fell in love with dance when

  • I discovered classical ballet.

  • And it's strange, but what I like the most about it

  • is just how challenging it is, and improvement that you see

  • is directly proportional to what you put in.

  • You decide how hard you work, and you

  • decide how much better you get, and it's all on you.

  • Which that independence and control is really satisfying.

  • [MUSIC PLAYING]

  • INTERVIEWER: I hope you enjoyed this episode

  • about Rio's dream of becoming a professional ballerina

  • and the rituals that are helping her get there.

  • To see more rituals of extraordinary people,

  • please click here to subscribe.

  • And for another episode, please click here to watch now.

  • SUBJECT: The ritual of swimming is so important for me.

  • Every day my body gets to be immersed in the bay.

  • I can't imagine my life without it now.

RIO ANDERSON: The point of ballet

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Meet The Dancing Prodigy Who Turned Down Harvard

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    huihsieh posted on 2016/03/26
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