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The Student News Site of Van Nuys High School

The Mirror

The Student News Site of Van Nuys High School

The Mirror

Ballet beyond the bell

How “The Nutcracker” led senior Nadia Gruhlke to compete in dance nationally 14 years later.
Senior+Nadia+Gruhlke+practices+ballet+outside+of+school%2C+immersing+herself+in+the+art+and+winning+competitions+and+scholarships+while+shes+at+it.
THE MIRROR | GIANNA IOVINO
Senior Nadia Gruhlke practices ballet outside of school, immersing herself in the art and winning competitions and scholarships while she’s at it.

Before the sun can even rise, senior Nadia Gruhlke’s alarm shrieks, waking her at 5 a.m. At this ungodly hour, her day is already in full swing. 

When most high schoolers would be snoring away, this senior’s familiar routine is already in motion: a brisk shower, hair slicked back with a blend of hairspray and gel, a careful application of a full face of makeup and a light breakfast. 

Then she’s out the door, aiming to arrive at the venue an hour early.  No time is wasted, as Gruhlke prepares not only physically, but mentally as well. Stretching her muscles far beyond the typical person’s range of motion, she warms up and shifts into a winner’s mindset as she readies herself to perform.

For Gruhlke, finding her passion occurred early in life; her love for dance was lit aflame at the age of three after her first encounter with professional dance, watching “The Nutcracker” at a local theater.

“After watching ‘The Nutcracker,’ I knew I really wanted to do this and so I’ve always just stuck to it,” Gruhlke said.

Her journey in dance, spanning through 14 years, is marked with milestones, including competing and excelling in national competitions. 

“I received three scholarships and I placed 13th for my solo earlier this year at NYC Dance Alliance, which is pretty good because it was my first time at this competition,” Gruhlke explained. 

Despite her enthusiasm for following her passions, balance is also an important aspect of extracurricular activities for a student.

“It’s challenging, but I’ve learned to take any small time that I have in between school and dance to do homework or anything like that,” Gruhlke said. “It’s been a struggle, but it’s something that I’ve learned to develop in time management.”

Gruhlke points to the tangible and intangible rewards of her journey.

“I think my biggest achievement is the accumulation of awards that I get at competitions and scholarships that I get, but also just like dancing on stage is rewarding enough,” Gruhlke stated.

It is this very passionate devotion to dance that has allowed her to progress this far and see the palpable fruits of her work. 

“I had another competition that I did in early November and I got 7th there,” she said. “I did four solos and also received a handful of summer-intensive scholarships.” 

Gruhlke acknowledges how dance has shaped her positively, especially in interpersonal skills.

“Because of dance, I’ve learned to communicate better with others,”  Gruhlke said. “I’ve learned to be the mediator when arguments come up within the team and figure out what the issue is so we can progress and get over it together.”

She admits that such devotion to a hobby comes with its tradeoffs, some of which have caused her to give up typical high school activities.

“It does take a lot of time, so it’s made me sacrifice a lot of normal things that other kids experience, like socially,” she explained. “I don’t really hang out with my school friends that much, but when I do, it’s bittersweet, because it’s not like I’ll see them next weekend.” 

In the end, however, to Gruhlke, dance is more than movement; it’s about the relationships among fellow dancers and shared experiences.

“I remember just dancing with everyone in group pieces. It’s such a memorable experience and builds great relationships with a bunch of people,” Gruhlke said. “That, I’ll hold on to forever.” 

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About the Contributor
Baron Kim, Staff
An avid korean drum player, Baron Kim is a news and features writer at The Mirror. He is a junior in his second year of journalism. He enjoys playing the drums, trying new food, and watching sci-fi shows in his free time. Outside of journalism, he is involved in JROTC and National History Day. He plans to pursue a career in cybersecurity.
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