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Teen Ballet Star Competes on National Stage

Anna Craddock is a senior at Ward Melville High School.

Editor's Note: This article was written by Christine Sampson. It was posted by Brendan J. O'Reilly.

When Patch last checked in with Anna Craddock, she was heading to Russia to study ballet at the world-renowned Bolshoi Ballet Academy.

Now, the Ward Melville senior has just finished competing in the prestigious Youth Grand Prix ballet competition and is gearing up for a performance at the Young Arts NY gala later this week.

While she did not place in the finals of the Youth Grand Prix, she said the experience was great.

"For my piece La Esmeralda, I received a thundering applause, which was very special," she said. "People came up to me and complimented me which was also special."

As part of the competition, Anna had the chance to dance in scholarship classes in front of ballet academy directors from around the world, and got to see friends she had made in years past at ballet camps and competitions.

"Also, the judges gave us helpful, informative criticism [and] advice on the scoring sheets after the competition," she said. "Now, I know what to improve in my variations and become a better dancer. For me, getting into the NYC Final Round was a big achievement."

As part of the Young Arts program, Anna had the chance to meet ballet icon Mikhail Baryshnikov. She said Baryshnikov's eyes were memorable.

"I was in awe. I said to my dad, 'Oh my gosh, this is crazy,'" she said. "We really just talked about the gala that was coming up. He recognized that I had talent and he wanted to show this with a contemporary [piece] and a classical [piece] to show that I have diversity."

Those who have seen The Nutcracker at the Staller Center during the holiday season may recognize Anna as a principal in the Seiskaya Ballet of St. James: over the past few years, she has danced roles including Sugarplum, Dewdrop, and Chocolate Soldier. She has also appeared as White Swan in Seiskaya's production of Swan Lake and has had the opportunity to dance a pas de deux (partner work) with American Ballet Theater principal Cory Stearns.

Prior to her summer studying in Russia, Anna suffered a serious injury: three fractures and a torn ligament that kept her off her feet for months. She had to take a three-week break from practicing leading up to the Youth Grand Prix with another foot injury.

Anna will graduate in June a year early from Ward Melville High School – not atypical for young dancers who want to get an early start on their careers. She will attend University of Indiana in the fall to study ballet and potentially physical therapy too.

"Every experience that has been given to me, all these competitions, have taught me so much," she said. "I feel very grateful for where I am now. My teachers help me, my family, they all inspire me to dance as I do, as well as God because he’s given me this talent and I get to do it and explore it fully."

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