Cary, NC – The Triangle area has long had a reputation for the arts and ones of its residents has been selected by one of the most famous ballerinas in the world to be a trainee at the Washington Ballet.
Payton Anderson is a dancer in the International Ballet Academy on Davis Drive in Cary. She said she has wanted to be a ballerina ever since she was four, even standing up for her dream when she was in her elementary school’s Career Day.
“Ballerina wasn’t on the sheet of careers we were given. The teacher told me that wasn’t a real job,” Anderson said. “And I said, ‘Oh, yes it is.'”
Anderson was selected to go to the nation’s capital by the Washington Ballet’s Artistic Director Julie Kent. Kent is a big name in ballet, serving as the principal dancer for the American Ballet Theatre for more than a decade. She is also the only American ballerina to win the Prix Benois de la Danse from the International Dance Association.
“To people who don’t know dance, I always refer to her as the Beyoncé or Justin Beiber of the ballet world,” Anderson said. “And to think that she hand-picked me is amazing.”
Kent started as artistic director this year, making Anderson’s trainee offer her first.
Anderson’s path to this trainee position has not always been a clear one. Last May, she had surgery on her hip joints and could only resume practicing in October.
“I was so amazed when I got the offer because I went through all my recovery,” she said. “There was a point where I couldn’t walk for months.”
As a ballerina, Anderson said her favorite ballet is Sleeping Beauty, which was first performed in 1890 with music by the legendary composer Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky who also composed music for Swan Lake and The Nutcracker. At her first competition, Anderson did the parts of Aurora, the sleeping princess. She added that she has watched the Washington Ballet perform Sleeping Beauty on the famous Kennedy Center stage.
“This is where kings and queens and presidents have gone to speak,” she said. “And now, it’s where I will be performing.”
Story by Michael Papich. Photos by Christine Prisk.