Photo by Sophia Babcock

Dancing into the future

When the curtains open, they step onto the stage and music fills the hall. This is their 13th year performing “The Nutcracker.” Delilah Herzog, senior, has had a passion for ballet for as long as they could remember.

“I’m obsessed with ballet because I feel like it’s been constant in my life and it’s something I’ve always been able to fall back on,” Herzog said. “Dance is just there at all times, so it’s comforting for me now.” 

Since the age of five, Herzog has been dancing in various recitals, festivals, and performances. 

“I think performing would be my favorite thing, especially because I’m able to express myself and my feelings without having to speak and through body language when I’m dancing,” Herzog said. “I really appreciate that about ballet and any form of art. Ballet can make someone feel something that is so impactful. I really like performing—I still get anxious about it— [and] just being able to go on stage and be a different character is just extremely fun for me.”

Although they enjoy performing, Herzog says these performances do not come without struggle.

“Ballet is really hard. I feel like some people underestimate how difficult ballet technique is and the amount of time it takes to master,” Herzog said. “Sometimes that can be very frustrating.”

Despite the difficulty, Herzog’s dedication for ballet remains constant. Herzog says they dance around two hours Monday through Thursday and have Saturday rehearsals from 10am to 5pm at the Northwest Ballet Academy. In total, they dedicate eight to 12 hours a week to dance. 

Because of their time commitment, Herzog says that they face physical struggles as well. 

“The worst thing about ballet is the amount of pain I’m in when I’m not dancing. It’s very common for ballet dancers to develop chronic injuries because sometimes they’re not able to take care of themselves properly,” Herzog said. “I developed a lot of back issues previously, which sometimes affect me a lot.”

Not only is ballet physically challenging, but Herzog said there is an internal struggle that comes with ballet as well.  

“I am very hard on myself,” Herzog said. “Part of that, I think, also comes from ballet training, but I have this desire to do things to perfection and I get very upset with myself when I don’t feel like it’s perfect. That’s my worst habit.”

While Herzog may view themself as short of perfection, Michaella Gregoire, senior and Herzog’s friend, describes them as the opposite. 

“Delilah’s relationship with ballet is honestly a little bit crazy. they’ll go to such long hours of rehearsal. I get it because I do gymnastics, so it’s a little similar and I know the dedication and the pain,” Gregoire said, “but when you look at it from the outside, I’m like, ‘How can you put yourself through so much pain and so much time and still love it at the end of it?’”

Because of Herzog’s love for ballet, they say they plan to continue ballet in the future.

“Sometimes I do get frustrated while I’m dancing, but ultimately, it brings me such a sense of comfort,” Herzog said. “Dance has become like home to me, so even though I’ll have those moments of frustration and being upset about not being able to do something, it ultimately comes down to I love what I’m doing and dance is a place where I belong.”

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