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Dec 3, 2019

This week on 5.6.7.EIGHT, Aleksandra speaks with Heather Iler, ballet director for the internationally recognized Cary Ballet Conservatory (CBC), associate artistic director for the non-profit Cary Ballet Company and lead faculty member of CBC’s professional training program. In all of her roles, Heather brings her 20 plus years of teaching experience to the table, giving Cary Ballet an edge unlike many others. Over the past three years, Cary Ballet has earned three outstanding school awards from the Youth America Grand Prix and two outstanding school awards from the ADC Youth International Ballet Competition.

On the podcast, Heather unveils the secret to her achievements — the fundamental idea that true success is found in the long game, rather than the quick wins — and describes how this philosophy is the foundation of Cary Ballet Conservatory. Iler also spends time discussing what brings her most joy as a ballet director and teacher and shares some advice for both teachers and students that she’s picked up in her seasoned tenure as a ballet professional.


Moving Quotes:

“Ballet is such a slow process, but there’s such a reward in taking that process and watching it grow slowly every year — every moment."

“I think ballet has every single life skill you could ever need. It has resilience, goal setting, discipline, respect, and something that nurtures the soul."

“I don’t think that most people enter any type of the arts thinking they’re going to become a professional in it. [The arts] give people such a different outlook on life — a sense of discipline and a sense of accomplishment, especially in today’s immediate gratification society."

 “We feel very fortunate and grateful for all of the accolades that [our dance school] has received, but that’s never the goal. The goal is about making sure that the kids are first."

“Success isn’t getting first place — that is fleeting. Success is knowing that you have achieved something." 

 “You don’t know how long your road is to getting to where you need to be… So be patient with yourself. Work hard but be patient for the journey that you’re on. Because all of this is what is making you more interesting as an artist. You need this journey to make you an artist."

 “Once dance students hit middle school or high school, dance is such a part of who they are. Allowing them to build that identity and giving them that confidence influences them when they move forward into whatever career they choose."


Bullet Points (w/ timestamps) - Highlighting key topics discussed:

3:34: Heather describes Cary Ballet Conservatory, her history with the conservatory, and her various roles within the conservatory.

5:50: Heather discusses the evolution she has seen at Cary Ballet throughout her 9-year tenure and the friction of wanting to expand her school without too much growth.

7:36: Iler explains the importance of dance in modern society and how dance teaches the value of hard, persistent work in an instant gratification culture.

11:32: Heather gives examples of how she has seen her dancers get an advantage by applying lessons learned in dance to non-dance situations.

12:40: Iler shares some words to parents who may be contemplating the value of dance, given that their children may very well not be professional dancers one day.

13:59: Heather explains the satisfaction of witnessing students achieve their goals and attain belief in themselves.

15:01: Heather shares two hilarious stories from her ballet journey, proving the idea that you must always be ready for anything during performances.

18:21: Iler gives some quality advice for teachers around preparing students for competitions and how the best competition results usually accompany a perspective shift.

22:45: Heather also shares some advice for students who are preparing for competitions and encourages students to be patient on their unique dance journeys.

25:48: Heather discusses what’s next for her, both personally and professionally, and what’s next for Cary Ballet Conservatory.


Bullet List of Resources – 

Heather Iler

Cary Ballet Conservatory