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Destiny Wimpye spills on life as a professional ballet dancer

Christmas is right around the corner, and when it comes to ringing in the holiday season, is there anything better than The Nutcracker? The ballet is a timeless classic—so that's why we just *had* to honor the moment by talking to Destiny Wimpye, a dancer in the professional divison of the Pacific Northwest Ballet who's also featured in the Netflix documentary Dance Dreams: Hot Chocolate Nutcracker starring Debbie Allen. We chatted with Destiny, 17, all about balancing dance and teen life, memorable moments of her dance career so far and what's up next... 

Girls' Life: How'd you get your start in ballet?

Destiny: I started dancing when I was three, then moved into competition dance, moved to Los Angeles to train at Debbie Allen Dance Academy, then I trained at the Colburn School in LA and now I'm at Pacific Northwest Ballet in Seattle. I took every genre of dance. When I was younger, we focused more on jazz and hip hop for competitions, but we'd also do ballet training.

Ballet wasn't my main focus at all—it was actually my least favorite style when I was younger, because it was so hard for me and I'm such a perfectionist. From there, I started training more and more and realized the different aspects to ballet, the complex characters and roles you can play. I started to understand, OK, this is why people do it. 

GL: What were the best moments of your dance career so far?

Destiny: I've had amazing opportunities—but a highlight would be guest-starring on This Is Us. I got to play a ballet dancer and merge my dancing with acting, which I love to do. To be on set, doing fouettés on a TV show...that was really cool, one of my proudest moments. 

Also, getting into the professional division at PNB was a big highlight for me, because that's the next step in my career. It really solidified things for me, like, I can really do this. That's what I want for my future, so it was a major achievement. 

GL: How about the more difficult moments?

Destiny: For me, it's been [tough] not being able to be with my mom or my family. At age 13 I started living on my own in dorms and dancing, and so I've missed out on that typical high school experience. I feel like I miss so much with my family because I'm always away, so I love whenever I get to come back home to Georgia and be with them. I'm actually performing in The Nutcracker at home, which makes me happy.

GL: What advice do you have for young dancers?

Destiny: Keep working hard. Don't strive for perfection. Be as great as you can be, but [know] that it takes time. Every dancer is different, people have different strengths and grow in different ways. That was the biggest thing I had to learn—how not to compare myself to others and their growth, because I'm growing in my own way. 

GL: Dream dance role?

Destiny: I *love* The Nutcracker, so I'd love to be Dewdrop in Balanchine's Nutcracker. I'm really a Balanchine girl—I love the quick speed of everything, those upbeat, jumpy, exciting roles. 

GL: Who inspires you?

Destiny: I definitely look up to Ingrid Silva. She's one of my mentors, she gives great advice and I love her dancing and she's someone I can always look to for support. My teacher Jenifer Ringer at Colburn as well, she's so nice and kind and is kind of like my "dance mom." She cares about her students on a personal level and I really appreciate that from her.

GL: Any holiday plans?

Destiny: Right now, I'm working on The Nutcracker, but honestly I'm so happy to be home with my family and just spending time with them. 

Photo Credit: James Fayette. Parts of this interview were edited and condensed for clarity. 

by Katherine Hammer | 12/19/2020