Imagine, all eyes are on you as you dance the night away to classical music, telling a story through artistic dance.
This is what 14-year-old Tahoma High School student, Claire Schlutt, has been doing since she was three years old.
She said she got started in ballet when her mom, Nicole Schlutt, enrolled her in ballet classes and she said she has been doing it ever since.
“It was kind of like a mom group and we all put our daughters in at the same time, but she’s the only one that’s stuck with as long as she has,” Nicole said.
Claire dances for a company called Auburn Children’s Dance Theater and has been dancing with this same company ever since she can remember.
She has made lifetime friends here, she said.
“I used to live in Covington so that was kind of the closest and then we moved to Maple Valley, but I kind of already knew everyone at that studio so I didn’t really want to leave,” Claire said. “(And) one of my best friends I’ve danced with since I was three so we’re really close.”
According to Claire, she practices for her “regular” recitals every Monday and Wednesday from 6-8:30 p.m. But she starts to get really busy when she starts practicing for the Nutcracker performance that takes place every year.
She said when she practices for the Nutcracker, it takes a lot more of her time because she has to practice on Friday and Saturdays, and the Saturday practices can last up to five hours, she said.
Claire has been performing in the Nutcracker since 2012, she said.
She explained that it feels great when she performs for an audience because after all those hours of practicing, she can finally show everyone what she and her fellow dancemates have been working on.
Her favorite part, aside from performing, is the dance community, Claire said.
“The teachers are really good and a lot of the dancers are really nice it’s just a really good community in the dance studio,” Claire said.
Aside from being an avid dancer, Claire is also a full-time student.
To balance not only herself on stage, but homework as well, she said it is important to have great time management.
Her secret is organization.
I use my planner a lot and I kind of just don’t look at everything at once, just look at what I need to do for now,” Claire explained.
She said she is also one to take her homework in the car with her on the way to dance practice to make sure she gets all of her homework done.
To add to her busy schedule, Claire said she also does volunteer work at the Maple Valley Library and at Tahoma Elementary School.
Nicole said Claire’s school work is no walk in the park either.
“She is currently taking AP European History, Pre-AP English Language and Composition, second-year Spanish, Algebra 2, Chemistry, Yoga, Biomedical Science, and Sports Medicine and has straight As,” Nicole said.
This year, Claire is going to perform in the Nutcracker as the “Dew Drop Fairy, a lady in waiting and a snow crystal,” Nicole said.
All of these parts are “on pointe” ballet, which means a dancer does pointe work such as supporting all of their body weight on the tips of their toes.
Looking to the future, Claire said she is unsure if ballet is there, but she said she does enjoy it, so it could be an option.
“I think it really teaches her perseverance and if you stick with something you’re always going to continue to get better and it’s something she loves so that is more incentive for her to do well,” Nicole said.