Erica Raver - April 2016 Judges' Choice
I have been dancing since I was 5 years old but I did not start taking it seriously until I was 11 years old. I previously studied at the Georgia Ballet for 12 years but I currently study with Fiona Fairrie at the Fiona Fairrie Ballet Conservatory. I mainly study ballet but when I have the opportunity, I love to do contemporary. When I was younger I also did tap and jazz for fun. I would love to say a heartfelt 'thank you' to Ms. Fiona Fairrie for being such a wonderful teacher and mentor. She has helped me through so much and I will forever be thankful for her. 
In preparing for this variation I trained and practiced with private sessions for about 4 months. When I wasn't in the studio I would listen to my "Raymonda" music over and over again to truly understand my feelings toward the music and as the character.
I have also participated in a few competitions. I have taken part in the Youth America Grand Prix in 2014 and 2016, and also in the first Indianapolis International Ballet Competition in 2015. Advice I would give to other dancers is to find a piece of you that really relates to your solo or variation. Yes, you should become that "character" when you are doing a variation, but also put an element of 'you' in your variation. That's when that variation or solo truly becomes unique and your own. I also would advise to really listen to the music without dancing to it. Just sit down and take a few minutes out of your day to listen to your music. Become a part of the music and understand the meaning behind each note. This has helped me immensely not only as a dancer but as a growing person. 
I will be attending the Boston Ballet Summer Intensive this year under full scholarship and I am so grateful for such an unbelievable opportunity! My goals for this summer intensive are to become a stronger dancer mentally and physically. I am so excited to see what Boston Ballet provides for me and look forward to this summer. 
Dance itself inspires me everyday. There are so many ways to understand a dance and a piece of music -- and this intrigues me. It is such an odd but beautiful art and I feel so honored to be able to become a part of this world of ballet. Music is always inspirational to me and I love to listen to classical music before a ballet class. My favorite track is Romeo and Juliet. It is such a beautiful ballet with such expressive music. Finally, I also get inspiration from my idols. The person I look up to the most is Maria Kochetkova. Ever since I watched her perform Juliet in San Francisco Ballet's "Romeo and Juliet," I have been moved mentally and emotionally. I also can relate to her because I am also short! 
My future plans are to eventually get in to a company. 
I would like to say 'Thank you' once again for such an amazing opportunity! It is such an honor and I could not thank you enough!