It’s been a winning year for Next Generation Ballet (NGB) new artist Hannah Bettes.
The 15-year-old dancer recently won the silver medal in the pre-professional category at the World Ballet Competition (WBC) in Orlando. In March, Bettes beat out all other dancers in her division to win first place in the Junior Women’s category at the international Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP) in New York City.
As the youngest in her division (ages 14 to 17) at the WBC, Hannah consistently scored the highest in every round, said Stacey Bettes, Hannah’s mother.
The WBC scored competitors on a scale of 1 to 10, similar to the Olympics, and the scores were made available right away at each round.
“The whole process was different,” said Hannah. “It was more intense because you knew going in what score you needed.”
Hannah competed against dancers from around the world, but with all of her competitions and performances this year, she’s become adept at handling the pressure of going against top talent and being subjected to the judging process.
“This past year, she’s become more confident,” said Stacey. Hannah joined the full-time dance program at the Patel Conservatory as a NGB new artist last fall.
“I’ve improved so much this year with Peter [Stark] and Ivonne [Lemus],” said Hannah, “Every day the classes get harder. Your’e always challenged. You’re never not improving.”
The program provided Hannah with many performance opportunities including the Straz Center's productions of The Nutcracker in December, 2010 and A Midsummer Night's Dream in May, 2011, and an appearance at the YAGP Gala in New York. “The more you’re on stage and the more performances you do, the less nerve racking it becomes,” Stacey said.
At the WBC, “We were forced to change her final round variation with just 24 hours notice,” said Peter Stark, dance chair of the Patel Conservatory and artistic director of NGB, “Hannah handled it like a professional, and received the highest marks in the entire competition for that piece.”
With her success this past year, Bettes has garnered attention from many top ballet schools. Despite worldwide scholarship offers, including from Harid Conservatory in Boca Raton, Fla., Princess Grace of Monaco School in Monte Carlo, Monaco and Kirov Academy in Washington D.C., Bettes will continue with the Patel Conservatory/NGB this fall.
At only 15, Bettes is poised for a career with a professional ballet company. In the ballet world, a professional career means starting young and going where the opportunities are.
Her parents are happy to have her close to home for at least one more year. With Hannah living in Tampa, and her family in Orlando, they visit weekly and make it work. “I want her to succeed...It’s definitely a passion for her,” said Stacey.
Hannah is presently training at the Houston Ballet summer intensive, and will then attend the Carreño Dance Festival in Sarasota for four weeks. She received full scholarships for both programs.
She's humble about her success and the attention. “It’s good to know that my hard work is paying off.”