Teen athlete: Rachel Fuchs

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It isn't played on a field or court, there are no referees and there's no way to win. But to some, ballet is just as serious an athletic endeavor as football or basketball. Rachel Fuchs, a senior at Lakeview Christian Academy, has been dedicated to ballet since she was five.

"It started with an odd obsession with Angelina Ballerina books," Fuchs said. "Which then led to using the gymnastics balance beam as a ballet barre — much to my mother's dismay who was paying for gymnastics lessons — and then finally begging for ballet lessons."

For the past 13 years, Fuchs has been taking classes with the Minnesota Ballet in Duluth.

"I think what initially interested me was the pink tutus, sparkly costumes and shiny shoes," Fuchs said. "The whole idea of becoming a ballerina seemed glamorous. Little did I know how much hard work and dedication it would take to pursue such a difficult art form."

Fuchs has worked hard to move from youthful little dancer to a mature professional. She has danced in many ballets, such as "Coppelia," "A Midsummer Night's Dream," "Sleeping Beauty" and "The Nutcracker."
"When I was 12, I had the honor of receiving the role of Clara in 'The Nutcracker,'" Fuchs said. She credits Clara as a milestone role that marked a change in her attitude to dancing.

"I think that role was the turning point for me when I realized how important ballet was to me," Fuchs said. "I had always been very driven as dancer from a very young age and took it seriously. But that role challenged me to become a better listener to the choreographer and a better listener to the music I was dancing to."

Another aspect of Fuchs' career is auditioning for ballet summer intensives.

"Auditions led to me going to Boston to attend the Boston Ballet's Summer Dance Program in 2013," Fuchs said. "After this school year I am committed to going to the Milwaukee Ballet's Summer Program that lasts six weeks."

Fuchs has dealt with setbacks in her ballet progress. This past year she suffered stress fractures in both her tibias and was unable to dance for a while.

"The hardest lesson I have had has been falling into a serious injury this past new year and learning how to come back from it," Fuchs said. "Although it was hard to heal from injury, it taught me to know my body better and learn to be patient with myself."

Talia Beech-Brown, a junior at Duluth East, has been dancing with Fuchs for the past four years.

"Rachel is such an incredibly dedicated person," Beech-Brown said. "Even when she's working through injuries she has an attitude that I admire, she's always cheerful and friendly to everyone, while working to be an amazing dancer."

Not only does Fuchs work on her own ballet career but she helps others further theirs.

"I have been assistant teaching a pre-ballet class on Saturday mornings and creative dance for individuals with cognitive or physical disabilities on Tuesdays and Thursdays," Fuchs said.

She is interested in teaching ballet professionally.

"I hope to pursue my dream of becoming a professional dancer," Fuchs said. "Down the road I hope to become a ballet teacher."

Solveig Rennan is a junior at East High School and interned for the Budgeteer in 2014. If you have an idea for a teen athlete profile, email budgeteer@duluthbudgeteer.com.