Jasmine Getz trains 30 hours, seven days a week -- almost a full-time job -- with dedication comparable to that of any professional athlete.
But watch the 15-year-old dancer gracefully take the stage, and her evocative and elegant movements make the whole thing seem simply effortless.
Jasmine, who lives in Sleepy Hollow, became the first American to win a world title in ballet/pointe in her age group at the International Dance Organization's World Danceweek, whose 13th edition was held in December in Poland. She also claimed a second world title in jazz dance at the competition that featured top dancers from more than 30 countries.
"I had never been out of the country," Jasmine said. "I was really happy I was there, and really happy that I got to dance for my country."
Her dance resume is nothing short of impressive. It includes winning the "ultimate title" in her age group at the Cathy Roe Ultimate Dance competitions and Dancer of the Year at Dance America, both in lyrical dance last year. Lyrical dance combines ballet and jazz techniques.
Just last weekend, she qualified for Cathy Roe's nationals again after winning the Ms. Teen Ultimate Elite at regionals. She also placed seventh overall in ballet and first in contemporary dance with the team from The Edge Dance Academy in Palatine.
Dancing at this level takes dedicated and focused practice, Jasmine said.
"It's knowing that the more you put in your work and do your best, the better you do," she said. "I think everything is reachable if you just practice and work for it."
Ballet is very demanding, the rewards not easy to come by, she added.
"Sometimes you're disappointed in class because you're working to do something and you don't have it yet," she said. "But you just have to work on it and start believing in yourself."
Her goal is to dance for a professional company, ideally one that offers both ballet and lyrical/jazz, she said.
"Being a ballet dancer is so honorable and prestigious, they are so graceful in everything they do. But I always enjoy lyrical because music and lyrics move you," she said. "A combination of the two would be a good mix."
That is absolutely in the cards, said her contemporary and lyrical dance teacher, Kimmy Pendzimaz of The Edge Dance Academy.
"I see her future as being probably one of the prima ballerinas in a company, a soloist, easily," she said. "She already has dance companies asking for her."
Tatyana Mazur, ballet mistress at Faubourg School of Ballet in Hanover Park, agreed.
Jasmine's world title in ballet, a discipline she's been seriously focusing on for just 2½ years, exemplifies her hard work, she said.
"It's a very big result. You see how she progressed," said Mazur, who's been teaching since 1985, when she opened a ballet school in Kiev, Ukraine.
"She is very smart, she has musicality. Artistically she is emotional; it's what a dancer needs to dance for staging," she added. "But first, it's (the) technical (part)."
Pendzimaz and Mazur credited Russell and Barbra Getz with allowing their daughter to take advantage of every opportunity, from scholarships to dance workshops.
Her intensive summer programs have included the Joffrey Ballet in Chicago and the Bolshoi Ballet on the East Coast. She also choreographed three solos in lyrical and contemporary ballet that won national titles.
The Getzes have been to all of Jasmine's performances, which have taken her all over the country.
"It's very important how parents pay attention about her future, her professional future -- dancing, auditioning, summer camps," Mazur said.
"If they weren't there to support Jasmine, she would not be where she is right now," Pendzimaz said. "I have rarely seen parents like that. They truly do everything and anything to make her dreams come true."
Russell Getz, a Sleepy Hollow village trustee, is a former high school gymnast who didn't think much of dancing until his daughter got into it.
"Jasmine is an extremely trained athlete, as much as any gymnast or basketball or football player," he said. "It redefined it (for me) as an athletic pursuit rather than dancing on the living room floor."
Barbra Getz, a psychotherapist who danced in college, said it was clear from Jasmine's first dance class at age 3 that she loved it.
"Her teachers always said she had a very natural ability," she said. "She has a natural turnout, she has the hips of a ballerina. She is physically built for it and extremely flexible."
Jasmine took classes at the local park district until age 7, then joined Dixon Dance Academy in West Dundee. She also studied with Judith Svalander School of Ballet in Crystal Lake.
With all her regimented training, Jasmine usually doesn't make it home until 10 or 10:30 p.m. She does homework either during study hall at school, right after school or until midnight when necessary, she said.
Still, she manages to maintain a 3.8 GPA on a 4.0 scale as a sophomore at Hampshire High School.
"School is important, yes. I really like the fact that I can get A's and B's all the time. I just think I'm smart and I can apply it," she said.
"I am such a right-brain person that I want to keep up with my left-brain person."
Jasmine, who was adopted from Guatemala and recently found out through a DNA test that she has American Indian blood, said there aren't too many nonwhite ballerinas. There's black ballerina Misty Copeland, and a few excellent Cuban ballerinas, but not a lot more, she said.
Still, "I think they are a little more accepted, they don't seem as different," she said.
Despite her vast talent and success, Jasmine is no prima donna.
"There are some dancers that are very cocky, but she's very humble," Pendzimaz said. "The 'normal' Jasmine is crazy, goofy. But she gets into the studio, and she turns into a professional. She's very, very mature for her age. I feel like I'm training a 30-year-old dancer."
In fact, Jasmine said, competition officials often check her birth certificate because she dances so maturely for her age.
"It's a compliment to hear that. Even if I am only 5-2, I can put my body in shapes that are very long," she said.
"I cover all edges of the stage, I try to travel as much as I can through the spaces I have."
Jasmine is also a good role model for younger dancers, said Lori Pendzimaz, owner of The Edge Dance Academy.
"She has a pure soul," she said. "It's not often you see a good dancer and a pure soul that has an honest heart."