Why I Dance: Victoria Jaiani

Jaiani left Tbilisi, Georgia, at age 13 to pursue a dance career. Herbert Migdoll, Courtesy Joffrey Ballet

Dancer with Joffrey Ballet.

At a young age, without any connections to the ballet world, I told my mom that I was going to be a ballerina. Growing up, I would put on classical music and improvise around the house. Sometimes I would make my family watch me dance. I grew up in Tbilisi, Georgia, and after a lot of begging, when I was 10, my mom took me to an audition for the State Ballet School. I was accepted and never looked back.

 As a student, I was drawn to the daily routine and the strong, almost military-like mentality with which one has to approach ballet. It didn’t always come easy, but I made it a point to remain focused. I worked to gain the control, strength and confidence necessary to allow my body to move fluidly through space. 

In the beginning, I would strive for unattainable perfection and criticize myself when I did not meet the standards I created. For example, I always admired hyperextended legs, but my legs just are not hyperextended, so at some point, I had to let go of that pursuit. I had to stop worrying about failure and recognize the beauty in my imperfections.

I left Georgia at age 13 and joined the Joffrey Ballet at 16. I’m now a leading dancer performing innovative and groundbreaking works from some of the world’s top choreographers. I still aim for excellence, but am even more determined to enjoy the artistic process. I bask in the excitement of working with masters like Christopher Wheeldon, Yuri Possokhov, Wayne McGregor and John Neumeier. The thrill of contributing to their vision never fades.

The driving force behind my passion is the joy I feel when I create a story onstage and bring the emotions to life through brilliant movement. When I’m onstage, there are moments when I feel as if the world around me has stopped and the ballet I’m performing is the only thing that matters. When I dance, I become part of the music and the music becomes me. 

Dance is so much more than my profession, but rather a part of my life that has shaped my identity. Dance has taught me to live life to the fullest. It has always been my dream to dance, and for now I get to live my dream. 

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