Carla Körbes is one of those rare ballerinas who transcend ordinary stardom, exuding a grace and delicateness that complement her powerful stage presence. When the Brazilian native announced her retirement from Pacific Northwest Ballet last year, hearts collectively broke. After training at the School of American Ballet, Körbes joined New York City Ballet as an apprentice in 1999 and was promoted to soloist in 2005. Later that year, she followed PNB artistic director and former NYCB dancer, Peter Boal, to Seattle; she joined the company as a soloist and was promoted to principal the next season. Currently, Körbes is the associate director of L.A. Dance Project and plans to perform at the Vail International Dance Festival in August. —Courtney Bowers
You've loved dancing since you were as young as you can remember. Know that this love will never end; it'll only mature and help you learn about yourself and life. The path you're about to take as a professional dancer will be full of ups and downs, but it'll be the most incredible journey.
Dancers are by nature hard on themselves, but I so wish you knew that a lot of people who criticize your dancing—and especially your body shape—actually do want the best for you. For years, you'll think your body isn't good enough. I wish I could hug you tight, and make you truly understand that ballet isn't just about what you look like; it's about letting yourself be carried away by music and emotions through movement. Even though you don't know this yet, you'll later see that you'll succeed as a ballerina because you're not perfect.
Don't feel sad about your injuries. They'll force you to slow down and reconsider life. And all the hard times will allow you to be more honest in your interpretation of ballets. Continue to follow your heart as you have done, even when your decisions seem unexpected. They'll always end up being the right choices for you.
Be kind to yourself and others.
Körbes at age 6 (left) with her older sister Ana (courtesy Körbes)