Junior year at Joffery
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On a sunny Monday afternoon, Elliana Teuscher and her mother, Hadas Teuscher, sit side by side in their home office, their black puppy squirming around between them. The house is alive with movement. Elliana’s siblings peek their heads through the doorway, and wind blows through the open door off to the side. In the midst of it all sits Elliana, perched with her back straight and her legs tucked under each other. It’s the kind of poise that comes with the years of classical ballet training that Elliana has gained throughout her lifetime as a dancer.
At 16 years old, Elliana has been accepted into the Joffrey Conservatory program, a program for anyone attempting to be a part of the professional dancing world. Accepting means training in one of the most elite ballet institutions in the world, but it also means no longer being able to attend Hinsdale Central.
Ballet is something that almost every young girl gets put into at one point in their lives, according to Hadas. She said she remembers Elliana always having a natural flexibility and “the body of a dancer.” However, with Elliana, dance was something that she decided to stick with. Even though it was her mother who put her in dance, Elliana said she quickly found a passion for dance and began quickly excelling.
“There was a time when all her friends started playing soccer and other sports and that was never her thing… I persuaded her to stick with [ballet],” Hadas said. “Watching her amongst other dancers at her studio and competitions, and that she got into such an elite summer program last summer, really cemented [that she was really talented] to me.”
Elliana is no stranger to the elite dancing world. She has previously trained for the past three summers at Joffrey. She has also danced at the School of American Ballet and American Ballet Theater. This summer she plans to continue her training at the San Francisco Ballet.
“I performed at the [Youth American Grand Prix]; I did a variation and I thought I did it really well. It was a really inspiring moment,” Elliana said.
Fellow ballerina and friend, Lainey Clark, said Elliana’s worth ethic and dedication to the sport is apparent.
“Ballet can get really competitive by Elli loves it too much to let negativity get to her…she never loses interest or motivation. Elli is always humble and is constantly finding things to improve,” Clark said.
A few months ago Elliana auditioned for her summer intensive once again, but decided to also check the box for Joffrey’s Conservatory Program as well.
This is only the second year that the conservatory program has been a part of the Joffrey curriculum. It was added to provide a step up from the pre-professional program. The Conservatory program is dedicated to the intense training of dancers wishing to make it in the professional world.
In the program, the ballerinas take classes five days a week, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in Chicago. Given that the classes are during the day, it means that if Elliana chooses to accept, she would need to be homeschooled in order to accommodate the rigorous training schedule that comes with being a Joffrey ballerina.
Making such a big decision needs much consideration and planning, explained Hadas. The family had to weigh what Elliana would be gaining from joining the program against what she would be missing out on.
“The three of us sat down and wrote down a list of pros and cons and sat down and had a conversation; each person elaborated on each topic and we came to similar conclusion,” Hadas said.
The Teuschers take education very seriously. When searching for an online high school, they wanted a school that was as rigorous with advanced and accelerated classes as Central. They were not interested in Elliana just getting a “glorified GED.”
“I’m planning on accepting the offer, as long as I get into the online school I applied to, which is through Stanford,” Elliana said.
No big decision comes without doubts. The Stanford online school is an acceptance only high school. They offer a variety of classes that are similar to the ones provided here. Since the school is online the flexible schedule will allow Elliana to follow through with the Conservatory Program’s busy training schedule.
“It just scares me that I’m losing the social life that comes with a public high school, and also whether or not you’re good enough. You’re sacrificing everything; I was good enough to get into the program, but how do you know if you’re good enough for a professional career,” Elliana said.
If Elliana gets admitted to the Stanford online program, she will being accepting Joffrey’s offer to join their conservatory program for the upcoming fall. Post high school, Elliana said she hopes to attend college, taking a lighter course load over a longer amount of years in hopes to continue dancing while still maintaining focus on her education.