I had the opportunity recently to ask Clara Thiele some questions about her journey as a ballerina. Clara is an amazing dancer, she graces the stage with incredible poise and grace. Her love for ballet is incredible. Below are her responses.
Q1: When did you start ballet?
I started dancing ballet when I was 9 years old, after being a competitive gymnast for several years.
Q2: Where do you currently dance?
I dance at the Draper Center for Dance Education in Rochester, NY
Q3: How long have you been en pointe for?
I think i’ve been en pointe for about 6 or 7 years?
Q4: What pointe shoes do you currently wear?
I wear gaynor minden pointe shoes! They are my perfect fit and I was actually a 2019-2020 gaynor girl!
Q5: How did you first get involved in ballet?
I did the nutcracker with my local ballet studio one year and then decided to take private lessons once a week while still doing gymnastics, until I realized I liked ballet better and quit gymnastics when I was 9
Q6: What is your favourite variation?
That’s such a hard question because I love so many! Currently i’m working on Walpurgisnacht variation, I like that one a lot
Q7: What company would you love to work for?
Another hard question- but some of my dream companies include Paris Opera Ballet, Dutch National Ballet, Royal Ballet, Stuttgart Ballet, and Staatsballet Berlin!
Q8: Do you have a favourite memory/moment in ballet?
My favorite memory is definitely going to the Prix de Lausanne this past year. When I found out I had made it in, I couldn’t believe it-it was such a dream come true. Traveling to the beautiful Switzerland and meeting so many amazing dancers from all over the world was such a magical experience
Q9: Who are your ballet roles models? Dancers that inspire you.
Some of my role models include Marianela Nunez, Natalia Osipova, Maria Khoreva, and Sarah Lane!
Q10: Best advice you’ve ever received from a teacher?
The best advice i’ve received from a teacher is to put the most value on daily ballet technique classes. Growing up, my studio had a large focus on technique and I think that’s what helped me improve so fast
Q11: Advise you’d give a young version of yourself?
A piece of advice to my younger self would be to cherish every opportunity you get and know that you are meant to be exactly where you are. I used to get so anxious that I wasn’t good enough, but if I had known that everything happens for a reason and that I was meant to be where I was, it would have helped me a lot
Q12: Best thing about being a ballerina?
The best thing about being a ballerina is the ability to perform in front of an audience and get that feeling that can never be felt somewhere else. The feeling I get when i’m performing is indescribable- one of the best feelings in the world
Q13: Hardest thing about being a ballerina?
The hardest thing is probably to stay motivated every day. In the ballet world it’s so easy to look at someone else and think wow, they’re so much better than i’ll ever be. But you just have to keep in mind that every individual is different, and that other person probably doesn’t have that thing that makes you special and sets you apart from others
Q14: It seems like such hard work, did you ever have days growing up where you were like “ugh maybe I’ll just pick an easier career so I can be like a normal teenager”?
I’ve definitely felt that feeling before! I think every dancer has. Being so invested in this career path has caused me to have to give up part of my social life, and ballet training can be extremely exhausting and mentally draining. But what helps me is to always keep my end goal in mind, and to know that each day i’m getting closer to that goal. I think it’s also important to maintain some balance in your life, so it helps that I have a great group of friends outside of dance who I love spending time with, and I also have other hobbies like playing the piano
Q15: Classical or romantic tutu?
Q16: Have you ever suffered a serious injury?
When I was 7 or 8 years old, I had a stress fracture in my lower spine, which is called spondylolitis. It hasn’t given me many problems, but every now and then if I do too many arabesques or crazy back stretches my back will tense up really badly. I also have hip dysplasia which gave me a lot of pain in March, but the pain has gone away since then. Other than that, i’ve only had a few minor ankle injuries, but nothing too bad
Q17: What do you like to do when you aren’t dancing (your free time)?
In my free time, like I said earlier, I like to play classical piano! I’ve been playing since I was 7 years old, and I also like to teach my little brother. I also love hanging out with my school friends, since I don’t get to see them too often because of dance.