She was eight years old when the career decision was made! Today, at seventeen she’s pursuing her dream of attending high school at the Barren Academy of Virtual and Expanded Learning and the Sarasota Cuban Ballet School. Astrid Westerfield calls home in two states: Osage Road in Persimmon Ridge, Louisville, Kentucky, and Conrad Street, Sarasota, Florida.
Astrid’s career development began in Louisville at the age of eight when her ballet teacher recognized her potential and asked: “Astrid, do you know what a professional ballet dancer is?” The eight-year-old responded with a polite “no” and requested her teacher to tell her more. With the information shared, for the first time, Astrid understood what it meant to be a professional dancer, and knew she was “put on this earth to dance ballet.”
Continuing school and ballet lessons in Louisville, her big break came in the summer of 2021 when her current artistic director: “offered me an opportunity to perform in the “Nutcracker,” later that year. Shortly after that offer, I received another offer to train full-time with a school in Sarasota, Florida, The Sarasota Cuban Ballet School (SCBS). The SCBS was established in 2014 to train dancers of all ages in the Cuban ballet style. The Cuban style combines the best of the more traditional Russian and French techniques and infuses the beauty and excitement of Cuban flair.
After much research and family discussion, at sixteen, Astrid moved to Sarasota to continue her education and her training as a ballet dancer. “My education is just as important to me as my ballet training…. Thankfully, there are many wonderful online college programs that will allow me to get a degree while I pursue my ballet career.”
When asked why Florida for ballet training, Astrid’s response provided insight on her commitment to ballet: “I never imagined myself living in Florida, but this is where the opportunity was for me. Sarasota is truly appreciative of the performing arts, and it feels wonderful to dance in a city with such wonderful support from the community.”
Astrid’s passion is ballet! “I love the focus and technicality behind the training, and the connection made with the audience. The feeling when an audience member shares that they felt a connection through you is the most rewarding part.” Astrid talks openly about what she does not like including the stereotypes behind ballet dancers. Astrid recognizes the challenge and encourages people to be more open-minded and to “…ask questions about diets, ballet income, or even if ballet is considered a sport. I feel grateful for the questions. There is no shame in learning something new and appreciating something different.”
At her Kentucky home in Persimmon Ridge, two siblings, Valon (19) and Channing (15), keep watch on their sister’s success. While living in Florida, Astrid is enrolled in Kentucky’s fully accredited virtual initiative, the Barren Academy of Virtual and Expanded Learning (BAVEL), in Glasgow, KY. A high school junior, Astrid describes her educational experience as challenging as she manages her ballet schedule and school schedule into a twenty-four-hour day.
With a tight schedule and a need for energy food, Astrid’s favorite food continues to be pasta. “My Nonna’s pasta recipe is unmatched and full of love.”
Favorite music, “Nothing quite compares to the hits of the early 2000s, but I would say the Weeknd and Chase Atlantic are high up on my list of favorites.”
Ballet training consumes many hours of Astrid’s days, but when she’s not exercising her body with dancing and workouts, she likes to exercise her mind with a good book, or cooking a new dish, or “catching up with friends and family are some of my favorite ways to feel refreshed and reconnected.”
The goal of ballet training in Florida is to equip Astrid with the necessary skills and knowledge to dance with a professional ballet company. While it may take time to launch her career, she has given some thought to how she will survive the wait: “This is when ballet dancers must get creative to come up with other sources of income. Many teach private lessons or have other side hustles. I always say that I will at least die happy knowing I lived my passion.”