My name is Julie Petanova and I come from Czech Republic. I started training ballet at the age of four, being inspired by my older sister who used to be dancing at that time. I began studying in a small private ballet school called Pirouette.
Every year we would participate in a final performance for our parents, so I gained my very first stage performing experiences early on in my life. When I was 12, instead of joining a college, I decided to study at the Prague State Conservatory and devoted myself fully to ballet.
Not only we would have a chance to perform in our end of year school performances but also on special occasions such as balls and other events.
During my last year at the Prague State Conservatory I was chosen to dance the lead in the Little Match Girl with the Ultra minimal ballet company. This was a great opportunity as I got to dance and but also act in front of audience that was just couple of metres away. I was very pleased by many positive critiques and acclaims not only from the audience but ballet and theatre experts as well.
When I joined the Royal Ballet School (my dream ballet school since I was a little girl) I had again many stage opportunities. I performed each year at the end of year performances in both classical and contemporary pieces.
I also participated in the solo evening in my first year, Ursula Moreton award in my second year as a choreographer and in the World Ballet Day live streaming.
In my second year (last year) I got the chance to perform in The Cunning Little Vixen as a Dragonfly, but I also got the chance to be a cover for the leading Vixen.
This year I was repeating second year due to my shin injury. At the beginning of this year I was very luck to perform at the Youth Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony.
For me, this award means an appreciation for my work so far and is a great encouragement for the future. It gives me hope, that what I do makes sense and can bring pleasure. It assures me that it is necessary to overcome obstacles (such as injuries) and follow my dream.
Student, The Royal Ballet School
My name is Alejandro Valera and I was born in Madrid, Spain. From an early age I became interested in art, music and dance, beginning classes at a local dance studio at the age of four. After several years attending both music and ballet lessons, my interest in ballet never stopped growing. At the age of 10, I auditioned for the “Mariemma National Conservatory of Dance” in Madrid, one of the most prestigious ballet schools in Spain, where I continued my training. After finishing my elementary ballet studies, my passion and enthusiasm for ballet pushed me to pursue a professional career in dance. I therefore continued into vocational training for another 3 years.
During this time, I was presented to national competitions across the country, where I danced classical solos in representation of my school and won several prizes and scholarships. Throughout these years my aim and dream had always been to join the Royal Ballet School, where, I was convinced, I would receive the best ballet training in the world, although I was aware of the fact that this was not going to be easy.
My path into the Royal Ballet School began when I was accepted into the White Lodge summer school, after which I was given a scholarship for the following Summer Intensive at Covent Garden. During this course I was offered full-time training at the Royal Ballet Upper School, starting in September, which I was honoured to accept.
My first year at the Royal Ballet School was amazing; I couldn´t believe what I was living. In addition to the outstanding training I received, I was lucky to be included in an amazing year group with a wide range of nationalities, backgrounds and personalities that inspire me every day. I must highlight the incredible end of year performances where I had the opportunity to perform Sir Frederick Ashton´s La Valse, Goyo Montero´s Pulseand Ashley Page´s Untied, Undone in the Linbury Theatre, Opera Holland Park and The Royal Opera House stages. But all these experiences were just a prelude of more to come.
My second year was one of hard work and dedication but also full of memorable experiences such as the Lynn Seymour award and my participation in the opening ceremony of the Lausanne 2020 Youth Winter Olympics. Working with choreographer Didy Veldman was incredibly enriching and travelling to Switzerland to perform her piece Is to be was a unique and wonderful opportunity.
After working tirelessly towards my assessments in March and having completed them successfully, Covid-19 pandemic forced me to immediately return home for lockdown. During this time the Royal Ballet School offered us high-quality online training in order not to interrupt our progress.
Although the end of year performances were cancelled, I am very much looking forward to all the amazing experiences that I am sure my third year will offer. I am incredibly excited to start my graduate year at the school and audition to see where my professional career leads me.
I cannot end without expressing my gratitude and appreciation to all my teachers who have inspired and encouraged me to love and enjoy such a beautiful art form. They have taught me to work hard and put passion into my work, to have respect for my work-ethic and to never stop dreaming towards new opportunities.
It gives me hope, that what I do makes sense and can bring pleasure. It assures me that it is necessary to overcome obstacles (such as injuries) and follow my dream.
Alejandro Valera Outlaw
Student, The Royal Ballet School
At the age of three I started dancing in a small dance studio called Dance Gallery on the South Side of Chicago. I simply loved moving to the music and knew from the start that dancing was something I wanted to do for my whole life. Eager to further my training, I auditioned for the Joffrey Ballet Pre-Professional program and attended their school for one year under Medina Irsalieva in 2015.
Then, in 2016, I joined the up and coming A&A Ballet School’s night program to take my training in a more serious direction. During my first year at the school, I won 1st place at the Youth America Grand Prix in Chicago under Anna Reznik and Alexei Kremnev.
In my third year at A&A Ballet, I joined their Conservatory/Youth Company program which ultimately gave me a place to let my love for dance flourish.
Attending the prestigious Royal Ballet School has always been a dream of mine so I auditioned for the school and was accepted as a first year for the 2019-2020 school year. I am extremely humbled to have a place at the school and I truly believe my training there to be crucial to my ballet future.
Furthermore, I am completely honoured and grateful to receive an award from the Ballet Association under the school and I thank all of the members for offering me such a prize.
Student, The Royal Ballet School