Bella Whitby - Florida Nomination and Photography by AT Dance Art Issue 42 of Inspiring Teens Magazine
Nomination: Bella Whitby is not only an extraordinary ballet dancer, but she is also an upstanding example of good citizenship, strong work ethics, academic excellence, and a kind heart. I believe Bella is an inspiring teen because she has shown an astounding strength over this last year of global pandemic challenges. Bella’s goal of becoming a professional ballet dancer was greatly thwarted when the arts were affected by lock downs, and that didn’t stop her from overcoming obstacles to continue her daily training. Zoom is great, but advanced level classical ballet in one’s kitchen is less than optimal. Bella somehow made it work and excelled.
I was fortunate enough to photograph Bella before the pandemic began, and this past October, and I was astounded by her growth as an artist, and in her technical skills in October. I expected to see setbacks, or limited development in her ballet skills due to the obvious limitations of 2020, but I was very wrong! I believe my thought was “she’s an entirely different dancer!” Bella is also a multifaceted artist, and plays the guitar, and as well creates stunning visual art. During the most difficult year for the ballet world, Bella didn’t give up on herself, and continued to inspire her peers. Bella is a beautiful person, inside and out, and never flaunts her achievements or treats others as if they’re beneath her. I believe Bella’s warmth and kindness are equal to her dance and academic skills, and that she should be honored in every way possible, as a shining example to us all.
Photography by AT Dance Art
Walk us through your dance journey. When did you start right up to what do you study now & what is a typical dance week like for you? I began dancing at 3 years old in Maryland, where I lived until I was about 12. I always did Nutcracker every year, and took technique classes every week, but I never considered perusing dance as a career. It wasn’t until I started training with Servy Gallardo at the St. Pete Ballet Conservatory that my passion for dance really grew and I felt my confidence in my dancing and myself improve rapidly. Now, I’m in the pre-professional program, planning for a future in dance and loving it more and more each day. During a typical dance week, we have technique and pointe class in the morning, then we rehearse pieces for our show in the afternoon. After rehearsals, I spend the evening working on school.
What is a favorite dance memory and/or accomplishment? I have so many amazing memories at dance, but I always have great memories from every show we get to perform. Some of my favorite moments happen while performing on stage, and also backstage with my friends. It’s an awesome feeling to be able to do something I love with the people that I’m closest to.
What do you love most about dance? I love being able to express myself and how I’m feeling through dance. If I’m feeling down, or having a bad day, dance always takes my mind off of it and makes me feel better.
Photography by family
What inspiring things about you does your nomination not cover? I am in the pre-professional program at my studio, so I balance ballet during the day and then school online in the evenings.
What does this mean for you and your future in dance? Being a part of the pre-professional program is a great preparation for a professional career in dance because it’s very close to how life in a company would be. I really love being able to spend the day at the studio rather than just a few hours after school. It makes a huge difference having extra time there.
What is the hardest thing you have ever accomplished, and how did you do it? One of the hardest things to accomplish for me was getting through quarantine. It was very difficult not seeing my friends and family or dancing in the studio. Doing our ballet classes over Zoom was one thing that really helped me during that time.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to be where you are today? I would say that hard work and perseverance can help you achieve just about any dream you have. If you really want something, just stick with it and don’t be too hard on yourself.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years/what are your plans? In 5 years, my dream would be to dance for a ballet company, and to be finishing my bachelor’s degree.
Photography by family
What is your favorite activity or pastime that was not in your nomination? I love art, and I enjoy painting and drawing in my free time. I also love baking and watching Jeopardy.
Do you have a hidden talent? What is it? I don’t know if it’s a hidden talent, but I love playing the guitar and learning new songs.
3 Things on your bucket list Go to France, because I have been learning French for a few years, and learn how to play the piano.
Who do you find inspiring? There are a lot of people who inspire me, but one person in particular would be my ballet teacher and artistic director of our studio, Servy Gallardo. He has so much passion for dance and for all his students.
What about you inspires others/why do you think you are inspiring? I think that my work ethic and kindness could inspire others.
Is there anything else you would like to tell us? I am extremely grateful for this opportunity!
Look for Bella in issue 42 of Inspiring Teens Magazine!