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Star-struck inspiration

Rotary club connects student with famous ballerina

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Hailey Bruce

Dream career: Dancer

Recent graduate: Denison University

Mentor: Misty Copeland, ballerina

“Anytime you get to talk with somebody who is working in your field — whether or not you are deciding whether it is good for you — it’s one of the most beneficial things you can do,” Hailey said.

Hailey Bruce loves dancing because it is different every time.

“That’s probably why I never got into sports, because you have to do the same thing the same way over and over again to make sure it is perfect,” says Bruce, who is temporarily working as a nanny in St. Joseph, Michigan, USA, until she lands a dancing job. “The thing about dancing is that it’s not repetitive. There are so many options; it’s always going to be a bit different, and that’s accepted and celebrated.”

Bruce knew she wanted to be a dancer from the moment she received her first pair of pointe shoes in seventh grade. Putting them on, she says, just felt right. From then on, she’s been pouring countless hours into practice and rehearsals, but it’s been more joy than work.

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“The only time it feels like work is if I am sore, or really tired, or not feeling well,” says Bruce. “Otherwise, I love rehearsal, I love class, and I obviously love performing.”

Through the Rotary Student Program, Bruce was able to receive mentoring tips from Misty Copeland  during her senior year of high school. Copeland was not as big a name back then (Time magazine has since credited her with changing the face of ballet), but Bruce knew who she was — and was star-struck. They had something in common: Copeland didn’t begin ballet studies until she was 13; Bruce didn’t start extensive training until middle school, either.

“It was really encouraging because she still made it happen for herself,” says Bruce, of the phone call Rotarians set up for her. “Anytime you get to talk with somebody who is working in your field — whether or not you are deciding whether it is good for you — it’s one of the most beneficial things you can do.”

Bruce likes all kinds of dancing and is quick to correct those who mistake her for a ballerina. She considers herself a dancer and has studied many styles, including modern and jazz. Her current goal is to earn a spot in a Disney performance, and she’s already auditioned a few times. Beyond that, she’s willing to go wherever a dancing job calls.

“I just really want to be onstage,” she said.

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