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The Hague (Netherlands) #FemmeNouvelle: Katarina Wester

Katarina Wester (KW) is a professional ballet dancer, teacher, choreographer and ballet mistress who has honed her art and profession all over the world for over 25 years. Born and raised in Stockholm, Sweden, KW graduated from the Royal Swedish Ballet School, and continued on to dance with Cramér Ballet, Gothenburg Ballet and Royal Swedish Ballet. KW is currently a ballet teacher and coreographer in The Hague, Netherlands.

KW has danced and taught at some of the most renowned and reputable dance schools in the world, and most recently was the recipient of the 2017 Tyyne and Ivo Cramér Foundation medal.

As an example of a woman who has found success living out her passion in the world of professional ballet, here is her take on success and advice for women, in dancing careers and otherwise:

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The Nouvelle Connection (The NC): What is your definition of success?

Katarina Wester (KW): To be able to work with what I am most passionate about. To transfer that passion to up and coming dancers and students. To have made a difference in people’s lives (students and others) through my teaching, coaching and mentoring. To have caring, loving people around me.

The NC: Did you always want to be a dancer?

KW: Yes. I was 4 years old when I took my first ballet class. At age 8 I was accepted at The Royal Swedish Ballet School. I was fortunate to have people in my life that recognized my talent.

The NC: What daily habits/life hacks are paramount to you?

KW: To seek and find inspiration. To nurture a positive and optimistic outlook on life and see the best in people.

The NC: What have been some of the biggest challenges you’ve learned to overcome as a dancer all over the world?

KW: Integrating/adapting while still being true to yourself in a new environment/culture. Kindness and positivity overcome most barriers.

The NC: What is the first thing you do to start your day?

KW: Kiss my husband. Think about my family – children and parents who live far away.

The NC: What would you recommend for women pursuing a career in ballet?

KW:

  • 1. Seek excellent training.
  • 2. Choose your mentors well.
  • 3. Educate yourself what an elite athlete must do to live a healthy lifestyle.
  • 4. Attend lots of performances.
  • 5. Seek daily inspiration.
  • 6. Stay focused on your long-term goal.

The NC: What has been key to keeping you grounded in your journey?

KW: My family and friends. My excellent education and wide experience.

The NC: Has your career/life path changed along the way? If so, how?

KW: My life and career took place in Sweden the first 30 years. Due to my husband’s career I gave up my path at The Royal Swedish Ballet when we moved to the US. (1989). I ended up dancing there, having 2 children and starting my studies in Dance medicine and Science. This inspired me to start my teaching career that has been my passion for over 25 years. Besides teaching ballet, I have developed a physical conditioning class for dancers. I choreograph ballets and hold a position as career coach for the next generation of dancers.

The NC: What advice would you have for young women in general today?

KW: Honor your dreams and pursue your passions. Get an excellent education. Surround yourself with positive, passionate, and inspiring people. Take risks, seek opportunities and listen to your intuition. You will always be an experience richer.