In February, Cary native Sydney Upchurch will participate in the Prix de Lausanne, a prestigious international ballet competition held in Switzerland, as one of 81 dancers representing 17 countries across the globe. There, Upchurch hopes to be chosen as a student for The Royal Ballet’s residential school, which could lead to a full-time career with the London-based dance company. 

How did you get into ballet? 

I started dancing when I was 10, so I haven’t really been doing it for too long. Growing up, I kind of did every sport, I tried it all. Then I did dance and I really liked it. I started with comp[etition] dance, jazz, hip-hop, contemporary, all that stuff. When I was 13, I started focusing on ballet. 

It feels like I’ve been doing this forever. [I love] the artistry and being able to perform for people and put a smile on everyone’s face. It’s almost like it’s a calling. I just feel like this is what I was meant to do. I love it so much. Learning new dances and ballets and variation and getting to partner, it’s all so fun. 

What is your day-to-day like? 

[I’m at the studio] 30 to 40 hours a week. I started [homeschooling] in sixth grade to start really focusing on dance more. I just joined Cary Ballet’s [online] school this year. I usually do my school in the morning from eight to 10:40 [a.m.]. Then I’ll have dance [class] all day long, usually until around five thirty or six [p.m.]. Then I’ll go home and I’ll continue to do whatever I didn’t get done. 

What are you working on right now?

I have some in-studio goals like working on my artistry and upper body. There’s so many little things I want to be able to nail down, like fouetté turns and other big jumps like saut de chats. I’ve never really been a natural turner, so turning can be hard for me sometimes. But I’ve been working on it, so I’ve definitely been able to get better. Jumping and the height, that’s always come naturally for me which is really nice, because jumps are very tiring. 

What are your goals for the future? 

I would love to go dance in London. The Royal Ballet is my dream company. My big, long-term goal is to have a long, really good career with a company in Europe. It’s very competitive. But you just have to keep working hard for the things that you want.  

What keeps you going?

I’ve always just wanted more, because there is so much more. You’re never perfect, there’s always things you can still improve and get better at. There are so many goals I have for myself. So I just keep pushing myself to keep going every day until I reach the dream. 

There’s days I come in here when I’m just so tired, I don’t feel like moving. We all have those days. You just have to remember why you do it. I love it. I don’t even know how to put it into words, I just love it so much. 

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