Texas Tech University

Discipline and Grace

TTUISD student wins Youth America Grand Prix scholarship to study ballet in Germany.

by Lucy Worley

May 19, 2017

Florencia Paez

Florencia Paez
(Photo by Carlos Quezada)

Florencia Paez

Florencia Paez (Photo by Carlos Quezada)

“Ballet allows people to write stories–to create stories around what they are seeing on stage,” says Florencia Paez, a full-time Texas Tech University Independent School District (TTUISD) student. Florencia is completing her high school curriculum online to free up time to write her own story.

A native of Monterrey, Mexico, and a lifelong dancer, Florencia recently received a scholarship from the Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP) organization. Florencia performed in a YAGP competition in New York City last year where she was awarded a scholarship to study at the John Cranko Schule of ballet in Stuttgart, Germany.

As reality sunk in that Florencia would be moving to Europe for an entire year, the Paez Family started the search for a flexible, online schooling option.

“There is a state school associated with John Cranko, but it did not offer all the classes I needed to stay on track academically,” Florencia said. “My parents had friends in Mexico who had heard of TTUISD, so we looked into the program and discovered it was exactly what I needed.”

Now approaching the end of her year in Germany, Florencia cannot fathom how she would have stayed on track without TTUISD.

“I wake up at 7:00a.m.and immediately go to practice. From there, I take a technique class from 9a.m. - 12p.m. I eat a quick lunch and then usually go to an anatomy or Dance Theory class. After that, I am in rehearsal until dinner,” Florencia tells us. “When the day is over, I start on my TTUISD classes. I spend a few hours each evening on my courses, but I do the majority of my studying over the weekend.”

Florencia Paez

Florencia Paez

Florencia Paez

Florencia Paez

Florencia is taking a full load of courses with TTUISD: Math, Biology, History and German.

“I am glad TTUISD offers German as it has really helped me with the language here,” Florencia says.

The language has not been the only adjustment for Florencia.

“It has been a big change moving to Germany,” Florencia said. “I left my family, my school and all my friends right in the middle of high school so that I could come here to dance.”

Has it been worth it?

“I love it here. Germany is very peaceful and beautiful. I especially like seeing all the architecture,” Florencia says. Even with a busy schedule, she has found the time to do a little traveling to Berlin and Munich.

Beyond the beauty of her surroundings, Florencia clearly sees the strides she has made as a dancer in the last year.

“One of the most rewarding parts of this experience is seeing the progress I have made. Just going to rehearsal every day allows me to see small improvements in my technique.”

Even though her growth as a performer has been a highlight of the year, what drives Florencia is giving to others through dance.

“In our performances, I feel I am filling people with joy. As a dancer, I can transmit a certain emotional dynamic to someone who might not be able to feel that emotion without the power of dance.”

At only 16 years old, Florencia possesses a grace and discipline rarely seen in her contemporaries–and she doesn't plan to slow down.

“I would like to study at the John Cranko Schul again next year, but we will see what happens. I do know that my goal for after high school is to audition for a ballet company and I also want to earn a college degree during that time,” said Florencia. She discussed looking into studying nutrition or something similar that would complement her training in dance.

Florencia has come a long way since seeing her first ballet performance of Swan Lake when she was a little girl. Unwavering in the 11 years since, she is an example to many of where determination and passion can take you.