The double life of a high school ballerina

Rosamond Mullinax’s schedule keeps her on her toes


Cam Hart

Rosamond Mullinax wraps her hair into a bun to get ready for her “Dracula” rehersal. She has spent most of the first semester of her junior year leaving school during the day for ballet.

Cam Hart, Editor-in-Chief

On any average day, Rosamond Mullinax (11) comes to school just like you and me, ready for whatever tests or homework checks come her way, but when ALAPP arrives, she packs up her bag, gets her hair in a bun and leaves. 

Since Aug., Mullinax understudied for a role in “Dracula” for Ballet Memphis, a company show. This means the people she works with are professional dancers who perform for a living, so rehearsals take place during the school day. Once “Dracula” ended, her busy schedule continued as she began rehearsals for the company show “Nutcracker” that is performed in the Orpheum. 

Her schedule was designed to make this middle-of-the-day rehearsal schedule work. With free periods in the middle portion of her days, she does not miss much actual school, but she does stay very busy.

Arriving back in time to eat a quick lunch before running off to her final two classes for the day, she leaves school with the rest of us at 3:15 p.m. But she does not go home to take a nap or do homework. She returns to a different studio where she has another student rehearsal.

Ultimately, on her longest day of ballet classes, Mullinax spends about six hours dancing. 

This semester alone she has balanced being an understudy in “Dracula,” having a role in “The Nutcracker,” attending student practices and socializing with her friends. 

“I have somewhat of a social life,” she said. “It’s not like I make it a priority to go out every Friday anyways. But I feel like I’ve been able to do stuff with my friends, but there are obviously times where I’m just too tired.”

In her 14 years of ballet experience, Mullinax has found that her mental wellbeing is not often negatively impacted by her teachers or peers, despite the stereotypes. 

“There are definitely some places in the ballet world that are super toxic and do [make negative comments about bodies and eating]. Everyone else recognizes how it’s so wrong,” Mullinax said. “But, that is a slight misconception about ballet that everyone in ballet [restricts] food and [tells] people they need to lose weight.” 

She said that the environment at Ballet Memphis is positive, though her love for ballet fluctuates season to season. 

“[My motivation] kind of ebbs and flows,” she said. “At times, I feel so drained, and I don’t even want to go.” 

With “The Nutcracker” rehearsals in full swing and the performances happening on Dec. 16-18, Mullinax observes a change in heart.

“There’s something about ‘Nutcracker’ season, though,” Mullinax said. “I’m excited for it because it’s so nostalgic. I’m excited for it, even though I know in the middle of it I’m going to feel super tired.” 

Despite her achievements, Mullinax does not know what the future holds for her yet. 

“I’m so unsure at this point. I definitely could see myself continuing it in some way after I graduate, but at the same time, I could get to the end of senior year and I could feel done with it,” Mullinax said. “At this point I’m really not sure, and I can see myself in either situation.”

But no matter what, Mullinax loves what she does.  

“It’s the times when [a performance] doesn’t go badly … and you feel like all your work paid off,” she said. “I can never be perfect, but I can always feel like I did the best I could at that time, and next time I do it, I might do it better.”