A young professional

BHS senior Zoey Schmit has taken on professional dance roles as a student at Northern Plains Dance and has made an impact on the dancing community.


Grace Jerome, Co-Editor

Ballet is an art that often goes unnoticed, so when someone comes along with an outstanding amount of talent in North Dakota, they are worth being recognized. Ballet is an art of discipline, poise, dedication and grace. BHS senior Zoey Schmit has been dancing for 15 years and has worked extremely hard to get to the point she is at.

It is proven that only 3 percent of ballet dancers make it into the professional dance world. Ballet is an extremely difficult form of dance, and Schmit has pushed to be the best at it that she can be.

“My favorite thing about dance is being able to tell a story through nothing but movements and just getting able to be onstage,” Schmit said. “I also cherish the opportunity dance gave me to meet some of my best friends.”

Schmit dances at Northern Plains Dance studio as an apprentice of the company. Her studio is known for hiring professional dancers to perform in their shows because typically some  roles require a level of dance that is too high for the student dancers. Schmit has changed that, as she is taking on yet another professional role this spring as Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty. 

“My favorite role I’ve ever performed would have to be either Aurora or the Sugar Plum Fairy,” Schmit said. “I have participated in Nutcracker ever since I was six, so getting to perform as Sugar Plum after all of those years of admiring the professional dancers from the wings was amazing. Although I haven’t performed Aurora yet, I really enjoy all of the partnering involved.”

It is clear to anyone watching that Schmit stands out as a dancer. The mixture of classes she has taken and the time she spends outside of the studio helped her to get where she is.

“I take as many classes as I am able to,” Schmit said. “I also spend an hour or so every night doing various stretching and strengthening exercises.” 

The dance instructors at her studio have acknowledged her growth and helped her blossom as a dancer. The many years of hard work she put into her training started to show, and it was clear that she was set apart with her dancing.

“There was a moment when I realized Zoey had extreme potential,” Dance instructor Zachary Leighton said. “It was during my first Dance Plus [performance] in 2018 when she was able to seamlessly shift gears between drastically different styles of pieces and dance and perform those pieces at the same quality and caliber as her ballet roles. Being new to the studio, I wasn’t necessarily expecting that at such a young age.”

High school comes with many activities for a lot of students. Managing multiple sports, activities and school can be stressful. Schmit decided early on that she wanted to solely focus on dance, and that decision and her level of dedication has shown through her dancing. 

“I think Zoey got to the level she is at by sticking to her chosen activity and making it a priority in her life – not just by putting in a hundred percent at the studio but also by making dance a priority in her life outside of the studio,” Leighton said.

“From a mother’s perspective, I have noticed not only that she works hard, but that she enjoys the hard work,” Zoey’s mother Julie Schmit said. “ As a mother, I respect and am proud of all her hard work over the years. Her being casted as Sugar Plum fairy was my proudest moment of Zoey. It was a part she wanted since she was young and I was proud of her that she was able to dance it.”

As any form of athlete, it is important to have a support system. The staff and dancers at Northern Plains have helped Zoey become the dancer she is, in addition to all her individual work.

“I feel like I have been there as an instructor but also as a guide who doesn’t expect her to be anything other than who she is,” Leighton said. “I have tried to let her grow without getting in her way because she is very independent. I think Zoey’s approach is unique to her, and she has set an example for what professionalism at Northern Plains Dance is supposed to mean.”

Ballet is defined as an artistic dance form performed to music using precise and highly formalized set steps and gestures. It is an art based on discipline and preciseness and is very difficult to master. It also needs a quality for performances that makes it all look easy.

“For performances, besides thinking of technique and choreography, I always remember this is someone in the audience’s first time seeing ballet,” Zoey said. “I want to make it special for them, and that is what keeps me motivated to be my best.” 

Zoey’s impact on Northern Plains and the community will last a lifetime. It is not very often someone will that level of dancing comes along and gets to take on professional roles as a student. She has inspired younger generations of dancers and has set a high standard for those following in her footsteps. 

“My advice to younger dancers is to make the most of the time you have,” Zoey said. “It all goes by so fast. Being a lead isn’t everything, it is much more important to spend time building friendships and making memories with your fellow dancers.”