FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) - You could say Jordan Miller's dance career is all thanks to a tutu. When she was two years old, her mom got her a black one.
"I saw it on the clearance rack and she put it on and fell in love with it," Heather Miller, Jordan's mom, said.
Jordan said she wouldn't take it off. And, in a way, 16 years later, she still hasn't. Next month Jordain will take the stage with the New York City Ballet.
"I always hoped, but never thought I'd get there. I think other people had more faith in me than I did," Jordan, 18, said.
But, Jordan worked hard for years to earn her place in one of the best ballet companies in the country.
"It was exciting realizing what her potential could be. Every challenge she met, she would rise to the top," Michael Miller, Jordan's dad, said.
Four years ago she started attending the New American Youth Ballet school in Fort Wayne. Two years ago, she auditioned for the School of American Ballet's summer course. She was accepted on a full scholarship and at the end of the course, she was invited to stay for the year.
"We knew we had to let her go, but as a parent, it was very difficult to send a child to New York City at 16," Heather said.
Jordan did well and this past January, auditioned for other companies. She got a job offer in Germany, but her instructors told her she was being considered for NYCB.
"But, being considered is a long way off from being in the company. Then in June, they asked me, 'Would you like to be an apprentice?' and I was like, 'Yes!' and started crying," Jordan said with a big grin.
She is one of three apprentices. They take classes, rehearse and perform with the company, but aren't full members yet. It's a trial year until hopefully being promoted to the Corps. Still, an apprentice is a paid position in a professional ballet company.
"It's a surreal thing to fully grasp. We probably won't grasp it until opening night and we'll be crying," Heather said.
Jordan leaves for New York in a week to start rehearsals for Swan Lake. Opening night is September 17 at the David H. Koch Theater in Lincoln Center. It's the same theater she's been watching performances almost every night for two years.
"It's been routine to sit in the audience and watch, but now it's like, 'Oh wow. I'm the one on stage performing for everyone in the audience. It's strange," she said.
It's also still sinking in that after years of looking up to professional dancers, she is now the one little girls will be watching with admiration. Her advice to young ballerinas is to stay humble.
"You have to work really hard. You can't just do all the steps correctly or dress the right way. It takes a lot of work and a lot of heart. And even if things go well for you, don't let it go to your head," Jordan said.
While Jordan met her goal of being a part of the New York City Ballet, she still has her sights set high.
"It's every little girl's dream to be a principal dancer with the New York City Ballet. Hopefully that's where I'll get someday," she said.
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