Ballerina Whitney Jensen Writes a Letter to Her Teenage Self

Photo by Jayme Thornton

Ballerina Whitney Jensen's incredible lines and extraordinary grace have captivated audiences around the world. At 10, Jensen won the silver medal at the Youth America Grand Prix NYC finals, and at age 16, she was the first American to win the highest possible distinction at the Varna International Ballet Competition. Jensen started dancing in Salt Lake City, UT, at The Dance Club, followed by The Jacqueline College School of Classical Ballet and Ballet West Academy. When she was 11 and 12, she performed as Clara in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular in NYC, and, after, moved to the Big Apple to train full-time at Valentina Kozlova's Dance Conservatory of New York. She joined Boston Ballet in 2009 and became one of the company's youngest principals in 2014. In 2015, Jensen took a short break from ballet before accepting an offer with the Norwegian National Ballet, where she's currently a soloist. —Courtney Bowers


Whitney,

Hey girl. You may read this and think you've got it all figured out, but there are some things I've learned that may help you in your times of disappointment or confusion.

The sacrifices you've made to get to the point of being a professional will start to wear on you. In a few years, you'll wonder if it was all worth it. It is. It'll take some difficult years, but you'll find a balance. There are definitely going to be others who are better and younger than you, but never lose sight of why you dance. Your effect on others will be your advantage.

You're going to have to work for everything you get—nothing will be handed to you. When you decide to make a big change, go with your gut, even if people think you're crazy! Your independence and discipline will take you farther than you ever thought.

Jensen as Aurora at age 11 (courtesy Jensen)

Open your eyes. There are some incredibly inspiring colleagues, choreographers, and stagers you'll work with along your journey. These people will lead and guide you to some amazing experiences you never thought would happen.

Keep this quote in mind at all times: "Where much is given, much is required." Continue to be a student and never settle. You're a risk-taker, and you'll fall a bunch onstage. It's all good, though—the audience loves a comeback. ;)

Whitney


A version of this story appeared in the July/August 2018 issue of Dance Spirit with the title "Letter to My Teenage Self: Whitney Jensen."

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