Rachel Neville Photography, courtesy Pazcoguin

Rogue Ballerina Georgina Pazcoguin Writes a Letter to Her Teenage Self

New York City Ballet soloist Georgina Pazcoguin's vivacious energy and fiery passion infuse her ballet roles, but her effervescent presence also proves perfect for the Great White Way. In 2015 she made her Broadway debut as Ivy Smith in On the Town, and she played the white cat Victoria in the 2016 revival of CATS. An Altoona, PA, native, she started training at age 4 at the Allegheny Ballet Academy. In 2001, she enrolled in the School of American Ballet; in 2002 she became an NYCB apprentice; and one year later she joined as an official corps member. She was promoted to soloist in 2013. Currently, she's performing with the company and can be found curating her brand, The Rogue Ballerina, on her social media channels. —Courtney Bowers

Dear 16-year-old Gina Ballerina,

My introverted, intuitive, intense little self: Take heart. The fact that you're an outlier will always be a challenge emotionally. But you'll come to value this and spin it into an incredibly positive trait. It's a good thing that you like challenges, because the future will be fraught with them. Each one will need your determination, drive, and humor to overcome.

You're a clever, funny little girl destined to become a witty, fierce woman and artist. Listen to your intuition. It's your strongest gift and I promise you it is always right. Be kind to and respect your body. She's your vessel through which your spirit shines. Beware of that inner voice. She's a definite part of you: We all have her/him. But that voice always wants more… thinner, higher, better. She thinks she knows it all but she's just an ideal version of yourself that you created. She may never shut up completely, but she can become just a sounding board. Something you can control. The sooner you recognize this, the sooner you'll start to evolve into a master of the mental game that is performance.

Surround yourself with the people who will support the best version of you. Not sure what that is yet? That's OK. You'll know when you feel balanced. Remember you have a loving family that will always be proud of you and love you even when you don't love yourself enough.

At age 13 (courtesy Pazcoguin)

Learn to meditate now, please. Laugh at least once a day. Compare yourself to no one. You, dear, are unique and the gifts that you bring to the table are vast, honed, and powerful. Speaking of honed, cross-train. Listen to your body. Subscribe to training that works for you. Own your extra-ness. Own the loving, generous soul that's just waiting to burst through your expertly fashioned, mysterious exterior. Define your boundaries. You'll have to defend them. Keep your fearlessness and desire for adventure. It'll guide you to the career choice that will change your life.

Realize now that being afraid of hearing the word "no" is an absolute nonstarter. Seek out your "yes." You'll get it eventually in your career, life, and love. Believe without a doubt there is a place for you in this ballet world because of the exact reasons you're told there might not be.

Your intensity is a gift. Your creativity and willingness to learn from scratch over and over will fuel inspiration in others. The dancers will be many, but there's always room for you if you want it hard enough. You do. You'll forge a brand-new path for not only you, but for the young women following in your footsteps. You'll have an amazing ballet career. Not one littered with awards or titles, but one bolstered by the respect of your colleagues. That's what truly impresses.

Lastly, never let anyone or anything dim your light. It blazes brightly for a reason. I know you feel it even now. This reason has yet to emerge into consciousness for you, or for me, for that matter, but trust that you deserve to be here. You also deserve all the gifts this next career chapter brings.

With love,

The Rogue Ballerina

A version of this story appeared in the February 2019 issue of Dance Spirit with the title "Letter to My Teenage Self: Georgina Pazcoguin."

Latest Posts

Viktorina Kapitonova in "Swan Lake Bath Ballet" (photo by Ryan Capstick, courtesy Corey Baker Dance)

Please Enjoy the Quarantine Genius of “Swan Lake Bath Ballet”

That old saying about limitations breeding creativity—hat tip to Orson Welles—has never felt more relevant than in these lockdown days. Here's the latest brilliant dance project born (hatched?) of quarantine restrictions: "Swan Lake Bath Ballet," a contemporary take on the classic featuring 27 A-list ballet dancers performing from their own bathtubs.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Project 21 dancers (from left) Selena Hamilton, Gracyn French, and Dyllan Blackburn (Photo by Quinn Wharton; hair and makeup throughout by Angela Huff for Mark Edward Inc.)

How Project 21 Is Shaping the Next Generation of Competition-Dance Standouts

"I wish I had a better story about the name," says Molly Long, founder of the Orange County, CA–based dance studio Project 21. In truth, it's a play on the fact that she was born on the twenty-first of August, and 21 is her favorite number. "I was away on a teaching tour, the audition announcement was going live on Instagram the next day, and I desperately needed a name. Project 21 was just the least cheesy of the options I thought of!"

The fact that fans might expect the name to have some profound meaning speaks to the near-mythic status Project 21 has achieved on the competition and convention scene since its founding in 2014. Long's dancers are all wholly individual, yet jell seamlessly as a group, and are consistently snagging top prizes everywhere on the circuit. Each season brings a slew of new accolades, high-caliber faculty, and legions of devoted followers.

The industry has taken notice of the studio's unique ethos. "Molly gets through to her dancers in a special way, and they have this incomparable level of commitment to their craft as a result," says dancer and choreographer Billy Bell, who's worked closely with Long and her dancers. "That's what sets them apart—it's like a little dose of magic."

Keep Reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks

Enter the Cover Model Search