Teen pirouttes to face new opportunities
Last updated 2/26/2020 at 4:40pm | View PDF
When Elliana Teuscher auditioned for a summer intensive with the Joffrey Ballet two years ago, she knew the experience could change her life. She had no idea to what extent.
In addition to being accepted to the summer program, Teuscher also was invited to join the American Conservatory Program - a training program for dancers 14 to 18 years old who are preparing for professional careers in dance.
Accepting the coveted invitation meant leaving Hinsdale Central High School, where Teuscher had just completed her sophomore year. It meant leaving her friends, and the normal life of a teen-ager, to take the train to the city each day for a full day of dance.
Teuscher's acceptance of the offer from Joffrey was contingent upon her acceptance into the Stanford Online High School program - a condition insisted upon by her mother, Hadas. Applying to the program - an extension of Stanford University - was a bit daunting.
"It was kind of like applying to college," Teuscher said. She had to write essays, fill out forms and answer lots of questions. Then, just like college applicants, she waited for a response.
Now a senior in the Stanford program, Teuscher's school day begins when most high school students are packing up for the day. After dancing from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., she's sometimes home in time for her first online class of the day. Other times, she stays in the city so as not to miss a class. Unlike some online classes, the classes Teuscher takes from the Stanford Online High School are conducted live.
Just as her audition for Joffrey's summer program led to an unexpected opportunity, Teuscher's application to her dream college has once again caused her to contemplate her next steps. After two years of preparation for a career as a professional dancer, her acceptance into Northwestern University's pre-med track has her considering a career in medicine.
Teuscher said she sees a direct correlation between her interest in medicine and her interest in dance. As a dancer, she is keenly aware of nutrition, fitness and anatomy. That's what sparked her interest in becoming a doctor.
Whether her job has her wearing a white coat or pointe shoes, Teuscher said dance will always be part of her life.
"I definitely want to keep dance in my life. It's such a big part of me," she said.
There was a time when Teuscher considered hanging up her dance shoes in exchange for a more typical adolescence. Today, she said she thanks her mother for encouraging her to stick with what Teuscher said is a natural talent.
Natural or not, dance takes a lot of hard work. That hard work, Teuscher said, has taught her skills and a solid work ethic that she will use throughout her life, no matter where her career takes her.
"Discipline is a huge lesson of being a dancer," Teuscher said. "You have to work for what you want. Nothing is going to be handed to you."