My name is Lily Mittlestadt and the 20/21 year is my final season with Makaroff Youth Ballet. I began taking ballet at Makaroff School of Ballet at age seven, and have now been dancing for 10 years. Ballet has always been an important part of my life and has shaped me into the young adult I am today.
Even from a young age, lessons of self-discipline and determination were instilled in me through the demanding nature of ballet. Ballet dancers require a level of detail second to none, with a single finger being out of place enough to throw a whole movement off balance. This made me fall in love with the art form as it was a never-ending challenge with many small rewards when suddenly things started working. During my training, I would often catch glimpses of myself in the mirror and wouldn’t see myself, but a true dancer - which gave me endless motivation.
Growing up I always admired the older girls, seeing how focused and motivated they were. Now being an “older girl” myself, I can say I have rarely seen such a level of dedication that I do from every single company member. Although ballet is very individual, being a member of a company creates such an important camaraderie among dancers and nothing is more rewarding than working towards a common goal. Every member of the company has inspired me with their dedication and passion for the art form. The moments I will remember are not necessarily the ones performing on stage, but rather the bonding moments shared in the dressing room and between classes. My advice to younger dancers would be to cherish every moment you have in the studio because it goes by faster than you would ever imagine.
Makaroff Youth Ballet has given me more amazing opportunities than I can count to grow as an artist, an athlete, and an individual. I have been given the opportunity to teach the younger students at Makaroff School of Ballet, an experience I have absolutely loved. The immense amount of hard work from each member of the company is what allows us to produce such beautiful pieces, and every member plays a crucial role. I have cherished every role I have performed with Makaroff Youth Ballet, especially the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker, and being able to see my own students perform.
I am grateful to Ms. Makaroff for always seeing the potential in me, even when I couldn’t see it in myself. Ms. Makaroff’s dedication to her students is something I will never forget, and what I try to emulate with my own students. Although my final season with Makaroff Youth Ballet was not what I had hoped for, I am still so thankful for the remaining time I have with Ms. Makaroff and members of this dedicated company.