Poetry in motion: Silverton teen studies ballet at East Coast conservatory

December 2017 Posted in Arts, Culture & History, Community

By Nancy JenningsIMG_0023 (1)

A Silverton teen is on the brink of realizing her dream – becoming a classically trained ballet dancer. Jinjutha (“Jin”) Cheepluesak, 16, daughter of Thai Dish restaurant owners, Manus Jantarasri and Oratai Cheepluesak, can’t imagine living a day without dancing.

In September, she bid farewell to Silverton and flew to the East Coast to study ballet at the prestigious Nutmeg Conservatory for the Arts – a boarding school – in Torrington, Conn. She has a holiday visit back home planned for Dec. 21.

Last summer, Jin completed the highly esteemed Bolshoi Ballet Academy of Moscow Six-Week Summer Intensive Program in New York City.

She was just three when she first stepped into a tutu. Her mother thought she would enjoy taking a ballet class in town. Fast-forward about a decade. She found herself at the Silverton Ballet Studio in the “5th grade and above” age group. Instructor Michele Holland taught her for two years, during which time she took a “learning classical ballet” and “beginning pointe” class. Holland taught her the “pointe technique” in classical ballet, where all body weight is supported on the tips of fully extended feet within pointe shoes. The teacher and student had a long talk about what defines a true dancer – beyond mastering the necessary technique.

“A dancer is someone who is passionate and moves in their heart,” Holland told her. “We started working with her technique, feet and body. She responded well and took it very seriously. She decided she was going to believe in herself. I’m most proud of her heart.”

After completing two years at Silverton High, Jin applied for and received a partial scholarship to the conservatory. She plans to complete her two remaining years of high-school and graduate there.

She has already taken her PSAT test in preparation for college. However, if she is picked up by a dance company she is ready to live her dream. She realizes how the physical demands of ballet can affect her body, and there are limits to how long she will be able to dance professionally. Thinking ahead, she plans to complete college and keep her options open to “become either a physical therapist or a pediatrician.”

For now, she is getting adjusted to her new surroundings – and notices how similar Torrington is to Silverton with its “cute, small town” environment. She is enjoying her new living quarters, too. Like a college dorm, she has a roommate and “there’s always someone in the hall to talk to. We have a ‘house mother’ who takes care of us, takes us to the grocery store and cooks us brunch on the weekends. She’s our supervisor and lives here with us. For school, I have a counselor,” Jin explained.

She and her classmates were recently paid a visit from a dancer with the renowned Joffrey Ballet. She admitted being “star struck” in the company of an elite figure in her chosen field.

Dance practice is disciplined and runs close to six hours per day in multiple sessions. Then there is the school work. She talks with her parents just about every day.

“My mom is my best friend,” she said.

“Jin is the only one in our family to dance in classical ballet. I always tell her to just follow your dreams and passions. Life is too short,” her mother said. “I know she’s working very hard, and I hope that one day she will dance in front of people all around the world.”

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