Perspective: Mentorship Interview with Mentee, Charlotte Felicity Blake

Name:  Charlotte Felicity Blake
Age: 15
Where are you from/Where do you live? Sarasota, Florida
Mentor: Raven Barkley of the Charlotte Ballet

What made you want to be a part of this program?
The opportunity to connect with such amazing professionals. I changed schools/studios this year and felt as though I needed some additional guidance.

Changing schools/studios can be tough. In what ways has the Mentorship Program helped you with that?
The mentorship program helped me to weather the change by giving me a steady port in the storm. My mentor is so dependable and positive. I was able to count on her for consistency during a time when I was so nervous about everything. She calmed me and helped me to focus on the good things.

Why did you want to work with your particular mentor?
She’s a beautiful dancer and dances with such confidence and grace. I have enjoyed watching her clips online, and I hope that I can see her perform live one day.

What is your favorite part of the program, so far?
My favorite part of the program is all of the positivity and encouragement that I have received. Everyone from the administrators, organizers, other dancers, and mentors (especially mine!) have been so fantastic to work with. I am just so lucky.

Ballet Dancer Charlotte Felicity BlakeCharlotte Felicity Blake

Is there anything unexpected you’ve learned or experienced through the program, so far?
The best part has been meeting new people and seeing that even though we all have different styles and strengths we are all beautiful dancers for different reasons…and there is space for all of us on stage together.

I have always had a problematic relationship with competitions. I get terrible nerves. Some of the most valuable things Ms. Raven taught me were how to calm myself and love myself no matter what the outcome. She told me to believe that I am where I was meant to be. I’ll carry that with me always.

Best advice you’ve received from your mentor?
Be kind to yourself, and believe that you made it here for a reason.

That is so inspiring and important for all of us to remember. What do those words mean to you, and how do you think you can put those words into action?
Ms. Raven gave me this advice, and I have held it in my heart since that day. I have always struggled with self-confidence. I have been training in places that were not a good match for my style and sensitivity. The more people that I meet and train with, the more wonderful and positive people I meet.

I was so glad to add Ms. Raven to that list. She has encouraged me every day and shown me that confidence can be learned. Self-love can be nurtured by being forgiving to yourself when you make mistakes, and taking a long deep breath can calm most nerves.

What would you tell anyone who is considering applying to be a mentee in the future?
Put your best foot forward and be honest in your application. They really want to see you and connect with you. You’ll enjoy yourself more, and they’ll get to know you better that way. It’s been an amazing ride so far.

How is this program helping you to grow as an artist and dancer?
By connecting with all these different dancers we’re really branching out – in a time when travel really isn’t very easy. This has been an amazing journey.

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