How I Deal With Distance

By on June 22, 2014

DLMimi_distance_MAINTo become a professional ballet dancer, you have to make a lot of sacrifices.

I’ve missed out on a lot of things, like birthday parties, weddings, homecoming, prom and many things that most people get to do. Of course I do not regret the choices I’ve made, because to make it as a professional, it takes complete dedication, but that dedication also directed me towards moving away from home at the age of fourteen.

 At the young age of fifteen, I moved completely across the country to train at the San Francisco Ballet School. By that point, I was already used to being away from home. I had eased my way to being independent, starting with summer intensives, then moving to boarding school which was a couple hours drive. But moving across the country, time zones, and having a 6-hour flight between my parents and me was definitely an adjustment. My parents have always been very supportive of me achieving my dreams and allowing me to do whatever it takes. They are an incredible support system, especially my mom, who understands first hand how difficult the ballet world is. Although I didn’t have them at my side during my crucial training years at SFB, I would call many times a week to fill them in or ask for advice.

Although I have lived away from home for many years now, I still get homesick and miss my family. It’s hard to be apart and realize that I have missed out on a lot of family time and events, but there are ways to cope. Apart from calling on the phone, I also like to write emails. Sometimes if I’m at the studio and want to have a private conversation, I will write them emails (or texts). This way, no one can hear what we’re talking about and I can also take time to draft my messages. I also like to Face Time every once in a while. Luckily technology makes the distance not seem too far.

If I were to give advice to young dancers about moving away from home, it would be to not be afraid and to take chances. Your family will always be there for you, but opportunities come and go. I would also suggest to make sure your parents know how much you appreciate them and don’t forget to call them! I know I am guilty of that, getting caught up during performances and rehearsals, but your relationship with your parents is very important and there is no support system like family!

About Mimi

Mimi Tompkins is in the corps de ballet at Ballet Arizona. A former apprentice at National Ballet of Canada, and trainee with the San Francisco Ballet, Mimi is a second-generation ballerina from McLean, Virginia and has been dancing ballet since she was three years old.

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