What started as a “get-me-out-of-the-house routine” after being enrolled by her mom in ballet has turned into a globe-spanning odyssey for Alamo Heights High School student Kate Thomas.
“Little did she know that … years later I would be traveling around the world and still madly in love with the art,” the 16-year-old added.
The sophomore has received praise and accolades for her performances.
Currently a Children’s Ballet of San Antonio standout, Thomas was named a finalist for the prestigious Prix de Lausanne competition in Switzerland, which involved a virtual performance due to travel bans imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The recognition comes on the heels of the teen’s invitation to attend a yearlong program at the Royal Ballet School in London.
While the coronavirus outbreak thwarted travel to England this past year, that has not deterred Thomas in her goal to keep striving for excellence.
Her regimen includes six-day-a-week practices, and spending three hours of after-school training with a pre-professional ballet program.
“I begin most of my dance evenings with a stretching or conditioning class, and then continue on to a ballet class until about 8 p.m.,” she said. “I am a night owl, so when I get home, I do my homework, eat and go to bed.”
She is in her sixth year as a CBSA cast member. Thomas first began training at age 7.
Thomas has always enjoyed performing at venues around downtown San Antonio.
“Being able to perform at the Tobin (Center for the Performing Arts) and Majestic Theatre at a young age will be a memory that will last a lifetime,” the dancer added.
Thomas has received numerous scholarships to the Bolshoi Ballet, Houston Ballet, Ballet West in Utah, and the Colorado Ballet Academy.
In addition, Thomas has been a three-time first-place winner at the Youth America Grand Prix regionals, where she has been among the world’s top 24 dancers invited to the YAGP final round event at Lincoln Center in New York City for several years.
The Prix de Lausanne is an annual international dance competition for young performers, ages 15-18, who are pursuing a classical ballet career. Many former prize winners achieve stardom with major ballet companies worldwide.
Hundreds of promising ballerinas from more than 40 countries apply for 82 finalist spots, with a jury panel of established professionals making selections.
The Royal Ballet School, founded in 1926, is the official academy of London’s Royal Ballet and the Birmingham Royal Ballet.
Last year, Thomas accepted invites to both the Prix de Lausanne and Royal Ballet School within a six-month span.
“It didn’t feel real,” she said. “It seemed like everything I had worked so hard for finally fell into place. I am extremely excited to see what my future brings.”
Vanessa Bessler, CBSA artistic director and founder, is herself a five-time Outstanding Teacher award-winner at YAGP.
She called it “a delight” to work with Thomas.
“In addition to being an extremely gifted dancer, (Thomas) uses her success to encourage and build up her fellow dancers rather than make them feel ‘less than,’” Bessler said. “(Thomas) exemplifies our philosophy as an organization, which focuses on inclusivity and diversity as much as talent and skill.”
Thomas looks forward to possibly studying at the Royal Ballet School in person after the pandemic.
As for what may happen years from now, Thomas said, “I am not 110% sure I want to be a professional ballerina, but it is always an option for me.”