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How Lindsi Dec Overcame Training Struggles to Earn Her Spot as a Principal With Pacific Northwest Ballet

Lindsi Dec with husband Karel Cruz in Alexei Ratmansky's "Don Quixote." Photo by Lindsay Thomas, courtesy Pacific Northwest Ballet.

When people ask what I do for a living, I say I have the best job in the world. But it isn't just a job. It's my passion. Feeling the rise of the curtain, the cool air rushing towards me from the audience, the warmth of the stage lights and the music taking me into my own little world, becoming the piece, the character, the dancer, is such a gift.

Photo by Angela Sterling, courtesy PNB.

When I was younger, I was painfully shy, which is why my mom enrolled me in a tap class. I fell in love. I did every style imaginable at a local competition school. Ballet was my least favorite, but I was forced to take occasional ballet classes if I wanted to do the other genres. When we moved three hours away, I was devastated that the only schools close to us were ballet schools. After soccer/lacrosse/track/basketball, I would head over to ballet daydreaming about when I could take my tap and jazz classes again.

At 14, my mom took me to watch Miami City Ballet at The Kennedy Center. The moment the music for "Rubies" began, and that tall girl came barreling down the center, I leaned over to my mom and said, "I am going to do that part someday." My eyes opened that night. I loved the way I felt watching the show—on the edge of my seat, excited, inspired—and I left the theater imagining myself dancing on a big stage, with no idea that it would actually become a reality someday.

What I didn't realize was the hard road I was about to go down. Since I started late, I was so far behind the other students. I was incredibly weak, had a major growth spurt and struggled technically with the steps. I never got cast in any lead roles, but I knew if I wanted to be on that big stage I had to push myself.

Dec in George Balanchine's "Rubies." Photo by Angela Sterling, courtesy PNB.

I always questioned if I could make it as a ballerina. But with my mom's unwavering support, my journey into the ballet world molded me into the type of dancer and person I am today. I embrace the challenges that are thrown at me, I love pushing myself in different ways, and I try to leave everything out there. No regrets.

Now, I am loving dance in a whole new way, a new light, with a new sense of freedom and abandon—I am a mom. My 2-year-old son is my entire heart and soul, my whole purpose for living. To be able to go onstage to do what I love, to share my passion with him, fills me with incredible happiness. To be able to show him that hard work pays off, to never give up, to do what he loves without questioning, and that I will be there right by his side, just like my mom was and is for me, is why I dance now—for my son.

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