Erin Hazelwood discovered her passion for ballet five years ago and has been in the world of dance ever since, eventually leading her to be invited to participate in the Nashville Ballet’s summer program.

The Brookhaven resident’s love for ballet began when she asked her mom if she could try out dancing after a movie based on ballet caught her interest. Now, as a freshmen at Chamblee Charter High School, Erin is an A student in the magnet program and a self-motivated dancer who dreams of furthering her career in ballet.

Erin Hazelwood. (Special)

Ballet is both demanding and satisfying, Erin said, which is one reason she is drawn to it.

“I like ballet because there is always something new to learn and work on, I like a challenge.” she says.

She has to balance her school work and social life while making room for her dancing passion, which often brings 12 hours of practice a week. A normal week for Erin consists of practice four days a week for three hours at the North Georgia School of Ballet while still going to school Monday through Friday. In whatever free time she has, Erin does stretches at home, goes to the gym to work out or watches videos of professional dancers.

One she particularly enjoys watching is Svetlana Zakharova, who she says she looks up to as a professional ballerina.

At the Nashville Ballet’s summer program, Erin danced for about 40 hours a week alongside more than 300 students from 33 states as well as international students from Canada and New Zealand.

For five weeks, Erin spent her summer expanding her overall skill and knowledge of the concepts of dance. Every day except for Sundays, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Erin attended classes that taught different styles of dance, such as jazz or modern, and that revolved around performance and technique.

She also took classes in exercises such as Pilates to help strengthen her stamina for long performances. The program worked closely with Erin and the other students on individual corrections and choreography.

Erin Hazelwood performs a ballet dance with a dancing partner. (Special)

Erin said that there is no doubt that those five weeks were challenging, but that is an aspect of the experience that she enjoyed. She also is proud of how she has become a stronger dancer who has improved in more fields than just ballet. The program was no easy feat but she had fun every day doing what she loves — dancing. She wishes to attend the summer intensive program again at School of Nashville Ballet this upcoming summer, so that she may continue working towards her dream of being a professional dancer.

Bethany Elias, director at the North Georgia School of Ballet, said she was impressed by the range of ability Erin shows as a dancer after only beginning ballet a few years ago. “Erin is one of the most special students I have taught,” Elias said. “Her hard work, discipline, and attention to detail have made her a very smart, dynamic, and talented dancer.”

What’s Next?
Erin plans to study dance in college and have a career as a professional dancer.

This article was written and reported by Kathleen Pahl, a student at Mount Vernon Presbyterian School.

Editor’s note: Through our “Standout Student” series, Reporter Newspapers showcases the work of some of the outstanding students at our local schools. If you would like to recommend “Standout Student” to be included in our series, please email with information about the student and why you think he or she should be featured.