Best Foot Forward

As the South Bay’s young students head back to school, a graduate reflects on her recent journey and offers some sound advice on getting the most of an education and aiming big.

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    Daisy Jacobson


As a dancer at South Bay Ballet and a student at Chadwick School, I had to perfect managing my time and priorities. These past four years have been full of opportunities, and my mental strength, physical abilities and time management were often tested. But I managed, and I wouldn’t have been able to achieve what I have if I wasn’t able to excel at all three.

The most important piece of advice I could give a student who is juggling a rigorous course load and time-consuming passion is to never lose sight of what it all means. Use all of the knowledge you have gained from classes at school and apply anything and everything to your art. It’s surprising how much my education has affected the way I dance, the way I think about dancing, as well as my work ethic.

Many dancers are homeschooled, believing that their time spent at school, instead of in the studio, will hold them back. I believe the opposite is true. 

I love ballet, and I look forward to dancing every day. But I am an equally accomplished dancer and student. I’ve never sacrificed one for the other. The best dancers are often the best students.

Much of my inspiration has come from observing how others live their daily lives. I also spend a lot of time watching professional dancers perform—both live and in videos. I take special note of the details that make someone an extraordinary person, and I take pleasure in assembling the pieces that create a fantastic dancer. I believe that observation is one of the best ways to learn and improve.

I decided to apply to Juilliard after I saw Benjamin Millepied’s LA Dance Project perform at the Walt Disney Concert Hall last fall. Prior to that, Juilliard wasn’t on my radar. 

I was blown away by the level of performance, and I knew I would never again think about dance in the same way. Four out of the six dancers were Juilliard graduates. I was so inspired by these dancers that I made the decision to apply that night. 

Before, I had only thought of myself as a dancer who would join a ballet company after high school. However, during the performance, I let the inspiration guide me and let go of any pre-conceived notions of what kind of dancer I should be. I went with my heart.

Daisy studied at South Bay Ballet with Diane Lauridsen. She is a 2013 YoungArts winner and Presidential Scholar in the Arts, and she’s looking forward to year one at The Juilliard School.