Caroline DiSimoni ’15 is a ballet dancer at the Princeton Ballet School, Ruth Pettit Award winner, and participant in various productions including The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, and Swan Lake. The Ruth Pettit Award, established in the memory of Ms. Pettit, a parent volunteer at the dance school, is awarded to young female dancers who demonstrate “outstanding talent.” With 13 years of training under her belt, Caroline plans to use her experience to further her study of dance in college.
Why did you start dancing?
When I was four, my mom enrolled my sister and I in ballet at Princeton Ballet School, and I’ve just been doing it ever since.
What inspires you to keep dancing?
Probably watching other dancers dance … Watching professional dancers dance makes me very motivated, and makes me want to keep working harder to … be [like] them one day.
Now that you’re a senior, there must have been times when it was difficult to balance your dance and school schedules. How did you deal with the time commitment?
It was really difficult … I have a set schedule after school everyday. I go to ballet at 3:15 and I come home a little bit before six, and then I have to get all my homework done. I usually go to bed pretty late depending on how much homework I have that day—It’s an everyday commitment. I have Fridays off, but if there’s a show coming up like [The] Nutcracker, I have rehearsals all day Saturday and Sunday for six hours [each day]. Rehearsals take up a lot of time on the weekends when I should be studying, so it’s difficult… It’s [also challenging] to balance a social life at the same time with school and ballet.
After high school, do you plan on pursuing dance? If so, would you take it up as a hobby or perform professionally? If professionally, what would the journey be like?
Right now, I’m going to audition for dance programs that are a part of universities … I plan on going to college. To be a professional dancer you don’t usually go to college after high school, you start your career at 18, but that’s not really a decision for me—I have to go to college. I’m going to audition for different companies in the area and dance programs for college and see where I get into. Based off of where I get into in a company, I might do [its] trainee program, where you train to be in the company and go to school at the same time. [For example], the University of Richmond is close to Ballet Richmond, which is a really good company.
How do you feel when you’re performing?
I feel really happy when I’m on stage; there’s no judgment like there is in the studio and no pressure. I can just dance and share my love of dance with people who are watching. I know that sounds really corny, but that’s what it all comes down to: changing someone’s feelings in the audience. I think thats the best part, seeing people’s reaction to how you dance and their enjoyment.
What are your favorite styles of dance? Why do you like them in particular? Are there any styles that you wish to try out?
Aside from different ballet techniques, I kind of like modern. It depends on the teacher; I used to not like it at all—I only enjoyed … ballet. I tried tap for a while, but I didn’t really like it … But this past summer I had a modern teacher that I really liked, and it was cool seeing how I could incorporate that kind of movement into ballet.
What was your greatest moment while dancing?
This past spring, I was an understudy and ended up doing a “Pas de deux” which is where you dance with a boy. The girl who understudied a different role had to do [my] part, so I had to do her part, which was the “Pas de deux”. It was really nerve-wracking because it was three days before the performance that I realized that I had to perform it … But when I was onstage, it felt like I had really matured and become sophisticated. It was a really great feeling because I could finally perform a really hard role.
As a ballet dancer, what are the pointe shoes like? How often do you have to replace them?
Every point shoe is different; there are ones that can last a couple months … The plastic ones last longer, but you’re not supposed to wear them. The ones I wear last about two to three weeks, and I dance on point every day for an hour and a half. On the weekends, it’s all day on pointe. So basically the longer you wear them, the faster they die. They don’t hurt unless you’re on them all day, [when] your toes start getting achy and you get a lot of blisters, but it all depends on how you wrap your toes.
How did you feel when you received the Ruth Pettit Award?
It was a really big accomplishment [for me]. It was the first time I got an award [from] my ballet school, so it was a really proud moment.