Catherine Hurlin has long limbs, sky-high extensions and super-archy feet, complemented by a keen sense of line and port de bras. When given a correction, she works on it intently. Ballet is her element.

She’s only 13, but Catherine’s resumé is already impressive. Most notably, this tiny dancer (she’s only 4'7"!) was one of two Claras in the Nutcracker portion of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular in 2007 and 2008 (performing in more than 100 shows each season!). She also had a small role in American Ballet Theatre’s Le Corsaire at the Metropolitan Opera House in May 2008.

A native of Westchester County, NY, Catherine started dancing at age 3 at the Scarsdale Ballet Studio before transferring to Westchester Dance Academy. She found success on the competition circuit, taking home awards like New York City Dance Alliance’s 2008 National Junior Outstanding Dancer. At Youth America Grand Prix, Catherine received the Hope Award, the highest honor given in the pre-competitive age division. Through YAGP she also received a career-changing opportunity: a scholarship to study full-time at ABT’s Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School during the 2008–2009 school year.

At JKO, Catherine takes ballet and pointe classes five afternoons a week. “It’s been more challenging than the classes I used to take,” she says, “but I think being challenged is good!”

Catherine’s talent is unmistakable. “Since Catherine has been [with us],” says Franco De Vita, principal of the JKO School and one of Catherine’s teachers, “it has been a pleasure to have not only an exceptionally talented young dancer in the school but, most importantly, a humble young lady who is a team player. Those qualities are indispensable for a dancer’s survival, success and happiness as a member of a ballet company.”

What’s next for Catherine? She’ll be performing in Mozartiana with ABT this May, and she hopes to keep training at the JKO School—and to eventually join ABT! Though she doesn’t plan to do the Radio City Christmas Spectacular in 2009 (she wants to have an uninterrupted eighth-grade year), Catherine does hope more opportunities of that type lie in her future. But her goals also go beyond the stage: “I want to be a dance teacher,” she explains. “I would love to go back to Westchester and teach there because I know the studio’s style.”

In the meantime, she intends to enjoy her training and take in everything she can. “People have different ways to express themselves,” she says. “Ballet is a good way to express who I am.”

Photo: Rosalie O'Connor

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