Students at LVBS juggle vocational dance training and academics - and one of our graduates Katia is back to doing just that. Alongside a successful performing career, she is also working towards further qualifications at Queen Mary’s University, London.
Tell us about your time at school, Katia!
My time at LVBS was truly enriching and memorable. Deciding to leave normal academic school and commit to a career as a Professional Ballet Dancer at the age of eleven was a huge decision and the school gave me the opportunity to thrive in both my ballet training and academic studies.
I am so grateful for the invaluable experiences and lessons that have shaped me into the dancer and person I am today.
My memories from the school are so special and I am thankful for the unwavering support and guidance from the teachers (both academic and ballet) who have continued to play an active role in my life. The school will always be a place that I can call home.
What is your favourite memory of being at school?
One of my favourite memories were our annual performances of the Nutcracker. Having the chance to perform every December in West End theatres across London was such an incredible opportunity.
Starting out at West London School of Dance at the age of two and ending my time performing the lead role was such a full circle and surreal moment.
Our Summer trips to Havana, Cuba where we got to to train and perform on a daily basis with the company at the Gran Teatro De Havana, were experiences second to none.
Alongside all of this, my year group at LVBS were integral to my happiness at the school. Although we chose a career rooted in discipline and commitment, we definitely made sure we had a good time and like to think we kept our teachers somewhat “entertained”…
Have you kept in touch with the students you trained with at LVBS?
Still to this day some of my closest friends are LVBS alumni! The school felt like a big family and I am so lucky that I got to grow up with these incredible friends. I believe that the experience and opportunities that we shared will always keep us united.
At times we’ve been on different sides of the world pursuing our careers, but we’ve been able to support one another through both the good and challenging times of the profession.
Tell us a bit about your training to date. Where do you currently dance? What has been your training highlight?
After LVBS I went to Elmhurst Ballet School and then continued my training at English National Ballet School in London. Upon graduation I made the decision to move to the U.S and joined the Los Angeles Ballet in California.
My training highlight was performing and touring around the U.K in English National Ballet’s “My First”. Another career highlight was getting the chance to perform annually at the Dolby theatre, with the Los Angeles Ballet. The venue is home to the Academy Awards, so performing there felt like the real Hollywood dream.
What was your favourite ballet or dance work to either watch or perform?
My favourite ballet to watch is Macmillan’s “Romeo and Juliet”. The balcony scene is so beautifully choreographed, his work is truly genius.
One of my favourite performance memories was dancing in waltz of the snowflakes in the Nutcracker. There is something really special about the camaraderie in the corps de ballet and getting to share the stage with your friends.
What advice would you give for our current students?
As wonderful as the dance world is, it is a competitive industry filled with both incredible opportunities and challenges.
I think it’s important to remember that the enjoyment of ballet should not only be found within great achievement, but also the journey of continuous improvement.
Stay inspired, embrace the highs and lows and most importantly surround yourself with a supportive community of fellow dancers, teachers and friends who help to create a nurturing and healthy environment.
What are you currently up to and where did your studies take you?
At the moment I am balancing both ballet and academia. I am currently studying English Literature at Queen Mary’s University London, whilst taking up short term contracts and touring in the new year to Korea with Kyiv City Ballet.
The reality is a career in ballet does not last forever, and while I’ve always remained passionate I felt the need to contemplate other avenues, and so began furthering my academic pursuits outside the ballet studio.
There’s no rule to say you can’t pursue both and I was reminded how LVBS taught us how to balance the high demands of academia and dance. However its been a major shift from daily company life. Instead of running to get a coffee between rehearsals, I am now running from rehearsals to lectures!
The next stage is to continue studying and pursuing my degree, whilst finding time around my university schedule to continue performing. I also trained as a pilates instructor, which I have found to really enjoy and hope to continue teaching. Looking forwards, I am currently weighing up university offers, which will determine wether I stay in London or not.
My time at LVBS taught me about the value of hard work and dedication and throughout my journey I hope to carry with me the invaluable lessons I learnt from my time at the school.