Jessica Latto: Australian Semi-Finalist in The Fonteyn 2023:
- What does it mean to you to be selected as one of the semi-finalists for The Fonteyn? How does it feel to be part of this event?
I’m truly honoured and excited to be selected as one of the semi-finalists for The Fonteyn. It is an incredibly prestigious event, and being a part of it is a dream come true for me. Being selected for The Fonteyn means that my hard work, dedication, years of training and commitment to dance have paid off. It is a validation of my passion and a reminder that with perseverance and determination, one can achieve their goals. Furthermore I am eternally grateful that the RAD provided me with a Bursary to support my travels to London for this event.
- Can you tell us about your journey in ballet and what inspired you to pursue dance at such a high level?
I’ve always dreamed of a ballet career, starting my training at age 5, joining small local competitions at 8, which helped me improve my artistic and technical skills onstage. During lockdowns, I kept training with 15 hours of weekly Zoom classes and attended virtual programs hosted by schools and competitions across the world. In 2021, I joined the Queensland Ballet Academy Guest Academy Program, with some sessions having to be held because of lockdowns.
Wanting to advance my training further, I auditioned for The National Ballet School. I was so drawn to the National Ballet School as it is full of teachers who worked in the professional dance industry and know what it takes to make it to my dreams. I was accepted for the 2022 full-time Certificate IV in Dance level when I had originally auditioned for the Half-Day Program. Since then, I have graduated with my Certificate IV and have moved up to the Diploma in Professional Dance (Elite Performance) level.
This year, I also had the honour of travelling to New York to attend the American Ballet Theatre 5 week Summer Intensive. This opportunity exposed me to the rich Balanchine style that American schools and companies embody. It allowed me to make great connections with dancers all over the world and receive advice on how to better my dancing from dancers with all different backgrounds. This trip to America would have never been possible without my amazing and encouraging mentors, Damian Smith, Ezlimar Dortolina and Jane Keen. They have helped me so much in my dance training and constantly keep me motivated with new challenges. They are always there for support when I need it and I am eternally grateful for their presence in my dance training.
- The Fonteyn showcases exceptional talent from around the world. How have you been preparing for this competition, both physically and mentally?
To prepare for the Fonteyn competition, I have been consistently working on my variation for months prior to the competition. Having ample time to prepare for this competition allows me to embody the choreography and remove any stress behind the movements. It also allows me to develop the character for my variation and better understand what is occurring artistically in the piece.
- What advice would you give to other aspiring young ballet dancers who aspire to participate in prestigious competitions like The Fonteyn International Ballet Competition?
One of the greatest pieces of advice I have received was from Damian Smith. He shared that everyday is a chance to learn something new, whether it is big or small, there is always a chance for improvement. This means you need to push your personal boundaries everyday and always do something better than the day before. Each time you make a small improvement, it builds up and greatly impacts your dancing.
- Finally, could you please share one interesting and ‘fun fact’ about yourself?
One week before my RAD Advanced 2 exam, I kicked myself in the back of the head doing an attitude sissone, which dislocated my neck. Under Doctor’s orders I could not move my neck for a week, but I completed my exam as scheduled.
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