Christina Spigner starts her day feasting on egg whites and oatmeal.
Then, she prepares her meal for her time away from her Miami Beach apartment: generally, a turkey sandwich, green salad, protein shakes and dried fruit.
Before walking the 1½ blocks to Miami City Ballet studios, she takes time out for a daily devotional spiritual moment.
That routine keeps her grounded day after day as she pushes her body to become the best.
Her love, talent and dedication to the dance genre that dates back to Renaissance, Italy has paid off. Come May 6, she will join the company’s corps de ballet for the 2013-2014 dance season – one of four new dancers to the company for the upcoming season, and the only African American ballerina for this season.
She blushes at a question about dating and hanging out, as most 19-year-olds would be doing.
For her it’s about discipline and dedication, not partying on South Beach.
“ It takes a lot of self-motivation,” said Christina, about being a ballerina. “It is very hard on your body. You have to be in love with it.”
Landing a performing arts job with the Miami City Ballet is no small feat. As with many dancers, her is a story of overcoming major odds to follow her passion – leaving her family home and friends in a small Arizona town at age 15 to live in a strange city, overcoming what could have been a career-ending injury and choosing an extremely competitive genre that not only requires an extraordinary level of commitment but have very few roles for a young black ballerina.
Experienced ballet dancers say performing is more of calling than a job. But it is job, classified under Sports and Entertainment by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and it is among one of the most injury prone occupations. Ballet dancing combines athleticism, technical detail and grace to create an art form that is grueling on the body.
Careers are generally short.
“Your body is your instrument so when that goes, it’s over,” said Miami City Ballet Artistic Director Lourdes Lopez, who noticed Christina’s promise and promoted her. “You start early and you may end early.’’
Geneva and Bruce Spigner exposed their three daughters to everything, including gymnastics, classical piano, jazz, tap, jazz, ballet and contemporary dance.
Christina started at age 3. She focused her studies at Master Ballet Academy and Ballet Arizona. It was at Ballet Arizona that Christina’s path crossed with ballet instructor Kim Sonderegger, who quickly recognized what she described as a “a big talent.”
In 2008, Sonderegger left Arizona and joined the Miami City Ballet School as an instructor. She did not forget her young charge back home. She alerted Edward Villela about the young lady who showed so much promise.
Within a year, a 15-year-old Christina and her mother had packed up for Miami, leaving the rest of the family behind in Paradise Valley, AZ.
“I thought the former director Edward Villella would like her, and he did,” said Sonderegger, who left Miami City Ballet School last June. “You never know if the child will continue, if her interest changes or priorities change or injuries but she had the talent and desire.”
Christina was soon promoted as a student apprentice. Then, the unthinkable happened. About a year or so into her apprenticeship, excruciating pain took over her life. That led to a diagnosis that surgery was needed – a hip arthroscopy, and other medical procedures to alleviate the pain.