Sarah Koehler: Ballet Superstar

While most students at Ames High are busy with jobs, going on vacations, and enjoying the sun this summer, senior Sarah Koehler will be dancing the days away at the Milwaukee Ballet School. Going away for dance camp has been a regular occurrence for Koehler in the past few years, with time spent in Boston, Washington D.C., and Atlanta. But this summer is especially stressful, as her future in ballet rides on the next few months. "I’m excited to be spending the summer in Milwaukee, and I really like their program, but there is a ton of pressure since I’m graduating, because this is my main opportunity to be hired by a company," Koehler said. Becoming a ballerina has been Koehler’s dream for as long as she can remember, but just in the past two to three years it has become a realistic dream for which she has worked very hard. Her typical dance regimen is nine ballet classes a week, with some tap, jazz, and modern classes mixed in occasionally. She takes lessons in Des Moines, so everyday she leaves for dance after school, and usually doesn’t get home until 10:30 pm. There are also weekend rehearsals she must attend, which take six to seven hours. This semester, Koehler has been incredibly busy traveling to auditions for companies, a process she says is difficult and a bit terrifying. "Auditioning is really scary. It’s you and 80 other very talented people competing for as little as one spot. It’s so competitive, it’s insane," she said. Her plans for the future are a bit complicated, since it depends on whether she gets hired after the summer program, but her backup plan is pretty exciting on its own. If she does not continue with ballet next school year, she will attend Macalester College in St. Paul, where she plans to major in history. While she won’t be able to train as rigorously during college as she does now, Koehler hopes to keep dancing as often as she can. "There’s a very cute, small dance studio near the Macalester campus that I hope I can be a part of," she said. "I love ballet so much that I could never give it up completely. I will definitely keep doing it, even if it’s not as a career." Regardless of how it goes for her this summer, and despite the long hours she has put in, Koehler swears that all of her hard work in ballet was well worth it. "I’ve learned so much from ballet," she said. "The most important thing I’ve taken from it is discipline, which has been valuable in high school, and I hope it sticks with me for the rest of my life."