How old were you when you took your first ballet class? Who introduced you to it? Did you immediately feel passionate about it?
I took my first ballet class when I was around 4 years old. It was introduced to me at my childhood day care by a woman I called Mrs. Jones. I immediately fell in love with dancing. I had music running through my veins (I still do to this day) and love to move! It wasn't just ballet that she introduced me to, I also took tap and jazz with her. After taking dance classes with her at daycare, I found a local studio nearby and signed up for daily dance classes including ballet, tap and jazz. I knew immediately that I loved dancing but I will be honest and say ballet was not my favorite.
For many years I was taking ballet, pointe, tap, jazz, hip hop, contemporary and music theater at a few different studios. Once I was a little older, around 16 or so, I realized how much of an outlet dancing was for me. I was able to let go of all the stress and worries in life and just move to the music, putting everything I had inside of me into it. Around that same time is when I developed a liking for ballet. I was taking classes at a studio in Bainbridge Island, WA and was taught new technique styles that just seemed to work better for me and made my truly appreciate ballet. I quickly learned that ballet is the true foundation of all dance styles.
What do you think is the biggest misconception about ballerinas?
There has always been this thought about ballet not being a sport. Personally, I think ballerinas are the toughest athletes there are. The amount of strength it takes to stay up on pointe with one leg up by your head, keeping your knees straight, your shoulders down, and your neck long, is ridiculous. Ballet uses every single muscle in your body and I have definitely learned that. After doing this shoot, my entire body is sore and all I was doing was holding poses! Everything has to be tucked and squeezed and pulled up, while still managing to have a pleasant facial expression. Ballet is tough, folks, so give ballerinas some credit! (laughs)
How about modeling? How and when did you get started?
I recently got into modeling about 2 years ago when I was living in Seattle. I made an online modeling portfolio on a website meant for photographers and models to connect. I did a few shoots here and there, but it wasn't until I moved back to Maryland in 2014 that I really got into it.
Do you think your background in classical ballet helped prepare you to be a model?
Definitely! One of the trickiest things about being in front of a camera, believe it or not, is trying to figure out what to do with your hands. Because of ballet, I find it a bit easier to allow my hands to look more graceful. The same thing goes for posing. Sometimes I find myself tightening all the little muscles I was taught to tighten in ballet, when I'm posing for shoots. I don't even really realize I'm doing it until I'm sore the next day. Then I think back and realize how straight I was standing with my shoulders pressed down and my neck lengthened, while squeezing all of my tummy muscles!
What do you think is the biggest misconception about modeling?
Weight and body size. I'm glad that there are more plus size models coming to the industry because it helps to show that everyone is beautiful in their own way. I will admit when I first started, I was a little self-conscious about my size. I wear a size 10 jeans. I am not the standard, size 2 model that you see walking all the runways, or in the magazines. I wasn't fitting into the dress samples pulled for fittings, and that didn't make me feel too great. But I have learned that size does not matter through seeing various models rocking their curves and I realized how silly I was being when I was feeling insecure. Everyone needs to now they are beautiful no matter when shape or size they are!
Because of social media, there are so many new paths to becoming a model. Do you have any advice for aspiring new models?
Yes! Instagram has definitely helped my career! There are so many creatives on Instagram that share their talent through their daily posts, whether it's hairstyling, modeling, makeup, floral arrangements, or event planning. Follow some local creatives and go through the people they follow and follow some more! For any aspiring models, the one tip I can give you is: don't be afraid to reach out to others. Whether that means messaging another local model asking for some advice or telling other creatives how much you love their work. And it wouldn't hurt to say you'd love to work with them. Last summer, I commented on one of your [Eliza's] posts saying how much I loved it and would love to collaborate on something, and here we are three shoots later! Don't hesitate to reach out. You can't sit around and expect work to come to you without doing anything. Stay true to yourself and you will blossom in the modeling world!