You know that feeling when things just click? When you find a solution that simply works for you and your lifestyle? Milla Botha knows. She felt it at eight years old when she joined the American Ballet Theater in New York. Then it happened again more recently when she enrolled in grade 10 at Laurel Springs.
The Right School at the Right Time
Even at such a young age, Milla had big goals. “Ever since I started ballet, it’s always been my dream to pursue the career of a principal ballet dancer. When I found ABT (American Ballet Theater) I was so happy to find a school that would try to make that possible.” Not only was this the right school for her, but a full scholarship made the decision even easier. “I have performed numerous lead roles and danced at the MET with many amazing dancers with the ABT company.”
With one goal down, the next became finding a balance between ballet and education. “Everyday I constantly stressed about how I would be able to leave my academic classes early in order to attend my ballet classes and it just became too much.” Enter Laurel Springs, stage left. “It’s been such an honor to have found an accommodating school such as Laurel Springs. I have always been so busy trying to juggle schoolwork and dance, and especially now that I got older and ballet classes got longer, I thought it best to make the transfer to schooling from home.”
How long were the ballet classes, you ask? “I usually train about 4-1/2 hours a day attending classes such as normal ballet technique, character, Martha Graham, and pointe classes. Some days it’s even longer than 5 hours. Before COVID hit, I was actually dancing 6-1/2 hours, since I was taking a technique class with a more advanced level (Upper 2) while still attending my Upper 1 classes.” Even as the youngest dancer at her level, Milla was given the opportunity to move up, just as a quarantine order went into effect. While there are still certain restrictions, Milla has been able to continue training through online and limited in-studio sessions.
Fitting It All In
If dance and school weren’t enough, Milla also makes time for a little entrepreneurship. “I actually run a business on an app called Depop (curated clothing store). I have always taken a liking to fashion, and now with my time during quarantine I have had the ability to create my own shop!”
So, how does she do it? “I am a complete perfectionist, and if I am ever to do something I always make sure it’s done right.” For Milla, the right decision was finding the flexible schedule of Laurel Springs to fit in with her dance schedule. She was also pleasantly surprised to see she wasn’t the only one with the same idea. “It was amazing to see that all the other [Laurel Springs] students were like me! Flourishing young adults with passion for rigorous training—whether it’s horseback riding, college sports, acting, and/or dance!”
As for the future, “I hope to join ABT’s Studio Company and work my way up through the main company to become a principal dancer. Studio Company is…a select few immensely talented students from around the globe. Many ballet dancers that are now with the company dancing as principals have been like me and grown through the school.” With ABT fulfilling her dance goals and Laurel Springs guiding her educational journey, it’s all clicking together nicely. “I am so blessed to have found Laurel Springs so that one day I will be able to attend Studio Company and have an academic school that is understanding of my ballet aspirations. One day after my dance career, I do hope to go to college, or maybe even attend online college while dancing within the company.” Milla certainly knows what it takes to make her dreams come true, so it’s only a matter of time until they do.