The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.

The Observer

The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.

The Observer

The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.

The Observer

Student Art Spotlight: Juliette Mamalian

 WCHS junior Juliette Mamalian perfectly executes an attitude derrière. This perfection comes from dancing her practicing seven days a week at the Maryland Youth Ballet.
Photo by Juliette Mamalian
WCHS junior Juliette Mamalian perfectly executes an attitude derrière. This perfection comes from dancing her practicing seven days a week at the Maryland Youth Ballet.

Dance is part of almost everyone’s life in one way or another. Whether on the dance floor during a night out with friends, or with headphones on, alone in a bedroom, dance is one of the most beautiful forms of expression. For some, though, dance is more than just a release, it is a passion and craft perfected over hours of practice and lessons. This is the case for WCHS junior Juliette Mamalian who is on the pre-professional track at Maryland Youth Ballet. 

“I started dancing at age three, just as an activity where I could learn movement and coordination, and then with every year, my skills increased and dancing became my main activity and interest,” Mamalian said. “I like to focus and work on strengthening specific parts of my body, and as movements become second nature and natural, I enjoy working on other performance qualities in addition to strength.”

Mamalian is fully committed to dance. On top of her taxing junior year schedule, Mamalian dances seven days a week, averaging a total of at least 30 hours. Although it sounds overwhelming, Mamalian has adjusted to this schedule over the years, adapting until it has become her new normal.

“I leave school early every day, missing the last period of the school day, to begin my training,” Mamalian said. “My classes include ballet technique, pointe, variations, pas de deux, contemporary, modern, pilates and jazz. I perform in three pre-professional ballet productions per year, with over 23 performances in a given year.”

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With so much time taken up by dance, it is hard to imagine how Mamalian balances her intense dance schedule with the grueling academics of junior year. Typically, dancers like Mamalian choose to be homeschooled, where the significantly lighter workload frees up more time for dance. Instead, Mamalian has chosen the harder path, staying at WCHS and taking on the public school burden. 

“I work hard to balance my pre-professional ballet training with participating actively in school-sponsored events like Blast, football games, attending my friends’ sporting events or performances, in addition to academics,” Mamalian said. “I squeeze all I can out of my day at WCHS, so I can spend four to five hours dancing every day, and then come home to finish homework. I have to stay very organized when it comes to my school work and time management, but this far into my high school years, I feel as if I have a solid routine now.”

The physical demands of dance are obvious. Endless cardio and strengthening are only two of  the endless things dancers put their bodies through. Even more than that, however, the mental strain that dancers endure cannot be disregarded. 

“Being a dancer comes with the idea of perfection, which in reality is never possible,” Mamalian said. “We work insanely hard to create the most beautiful aesthetic we can achieve, but in doing so, it can be mentally draining and sometimes quite toxic. I have been lucky enough to be in a very supportive environment throughout my dance career, which has been beneficial to my mental health when training and performing.”

As if her strenuous schedule is not enough, Mamalian also participates in Blast, a school-sponsored production that requires a significant time commitment. Blast is produced and choreographed completely by students, one of those being Mamalian. 

“This year, I was a student leader, dancer and choreographer,” Mamalian said. “I also helped with PR and promoting Blast during the months leading up to our performances. I choreographed and/or assisted with six numbers this year, which allowed me to grow closer with the rest of the cast while getting to share my own choreography and artistry with them.”

Mamalian’s hard work and dedication are clear to anyone in her life. Family and friends watch her every day as she goes from practice to rehearsal, to her piles and piles of homework. They see her take on all sorts of challenges and stress, handling them with grace. 

“Juliette is very inspiring,” WCHS junior Sonia Breslewac said. “Whenever I see her dance, her talent is undeniable and I see firsthand how much effort she puts into it. I just saw Blast and it was amazing to see the choreography she’s been working so hard on come to life on the stage.”

For Mamalian, her dance journey will not end with the school year. She takes part in summer programs as well as her training during the school year. For years, Mamalian has completed summer programs where she spends five to six weeks in a city dancing all day, every day. She has worked with the Boston Ballet, Kaatsbaan as well as three summers with the American Ballet Theatre. All of these programs further prepare Mamalian for a future dance career. 

“My long-term plan is to dance professionally,” Mamalian said. “This summer I will spend 5 weeks in Salt Lake City, UT dancing with Ballet West. I love being fully immersed in dance during the summer, and these summer experiences, in addition to my school year training, have made me realize that I want to dance with a professional ballet company for my career.”

 Through all of the stress, long hours, hard work and sleepless nights, Mamalian’s true love for dance is what has kept her going. After all these years, the peace and happiness Mamalian feels while dancing is what keeps her inspired to continue dancing. 

“I love ballet and dance for the intellectual challenge of learning combinations and repertoire, the physicality of the sport and art and for the joy I experience in creating something beautiful and performing,” Mamalian said. “I also love the community I find in other dancers, who understand and appreciate the hard work and sacrifice that is required to get up on stage and make dance look effortless. When I am dancing, I feel free. I am able to clear my mind and it is a very calm and happy place for me to be.”  

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About the Contributor
Claire Moylan
Claire Moylan, Photo Manager & Assistant Features Editor
Claire Moylan is a junior and a Photo Manager for the Observer. This is her second year taking journalism and she is super excited to continue working on the Observer. In her free time, she enjoys playing soccer and lacrosse and spending time with friends.

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