VERONICA DRUCHNIAK RADIATES PURE JOY AS SHE SOARS ACROSS THE MAINE STATE BALLET STAGE. WHILE THE REALITY OF LIFE AS A BALLERINA INCLUDES GRUELING REHEARSALS AND DEMANDING DISCIPLINE OF THE BODY AND SPIRIT, FOR DRUCHNIAK, IT BEGINS WITH JOY.
“I’ve never wanted to do anything else,” she says. “Ballet has absolutely been my passion since Day 1.” Druchniak, 20, first discovered that passion at age 4, when she began taking lessons at Maine State Ballet. Asked to join the Maine State Ballet’s performance company in 2012, when she was just 16 years old, her dance career has taken flight ever since. Named a soloist with the company in 2013, and principal soloist two years later, she made her debut this spring as principal soloist in “Sleeping Beauty.”
“This was a full three-act production of ‘Sleeping Beauty,’ and I loved every second I was on stage,” she says. “One of the best parts of being a dancer is feeling the energy of the audience.”
Other career highlights include the title role in “The Little Mermaid” in 2013 (“it was a brand-new production,” says Druchniak. “And I was excited to be involved in the creative process”); the Dew Drop Fairy in “The Nutcracker,” and the Fairy Godmother in “Cinderella.” Despite an impressive resume, Druchniak is quick to mention her two years of teaching at Maine State Ballet. “I love passing along my passion for dance to the next generation,” she says.
How does someone commit to a demanding art form at such a young age? At times, Druchniak admits, it’s been a challenge.
“When all of your school friends are on this team or that club, you feel like you’re missing out,” she says. “ I was lucky to meet some of my best friends at the barre and they always helped me feel I made the right choice.”
It also helps that Druchniak’s family is supportive of her dreams. In fact, her older brother is also a dancer with Maine State Ballet, and her mother, Sally Clark, is an active Maine State Ballet volunteer. A Standish native, Druchniak just finished her sophomore year at the University of Southern Maine, with a double major in computer science and math. Ballet and computer science seem to be polar opposites, but to Druchniak they are related. “I like that they exercise different parts of the brain, but they also click for me,” she says. “All three disciplines require a lot of self-control and perseverance.”
During her early teen years, Druchniak also acted in several productions by Mad Horse Theatre Company. As packed as her schedule is these days, she would love another opportunity to stretch her acting muscles.
Perseverance is the key to pushing through the daily routine of rehearsals, schoolwork and myriad demands on her time. In fact, Druchniak says, the hours spent at the barre are a kind of moving meditation. “Everyday, you go to the studio, warm up at the barre like you’ve done thousands of times, and you focus on that one thing. You leave your problems at the door, and you just focus on the discipline of the dance.
Lori Douglas Clark is a freelance writer who lives in Readfield.