Studying ballet in Texas this summer won’t be the first shared experience for lifelong friends Alexa Patrick and Liv Rivich.
The two dedicated dancers are both 12, both seventh-graders, born the same month and were neighbors in Whiting before both moving to Munster.
Both competed in January against thousands of dancers throughout the country for a coveted spot in the American Ballet Theatre’s summer intensive. Both got into the Austin, Texas program.
They will head there together for four weeks this summer and will be roommates.
Liv’s mother, Rebecca Rivich, said she’s proud of the girls’ dedication to dance and their friendship and can’t believe the odds that they both got into such a selective program and were placed in the same city.
“They really lean on each other,” she said. Although they attend different dance schools in the Chicago area, they know what the other goes through.
Her daughter doesn’t have anyone at middle school who’s experiencing what she’s experiencing except Alexa and vice versa, she said.
Liv Rivich, who attends Hyde Park School of Dance, dances four days a week, including an 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. stint on Saturdays.
“Even though some people say (ballet) isn’t a sport, I really and truly think it is because of all the hard work that goes into it,” Liv Rivich said.
“If you want to perform, you have to really have the heart to do it and you have to really love it,” she said.
With hopes of becoming a professional ballet dancer and joining a company like American Ballet Theatre New York someday, she looks forward to her summer studying in Texas with her close friend.
“I think it will be better because I have someone that I know to talk to.”
Alexa Patrick currently attends Joffrey Academy in Chicago. Her school day ends at 2:40 p.m. and dance starts at 5 p.m., and to make the long commute work, she does homework in the car. Her schedule can be stressful but she enjoys it.
She’s excited to learn an American style of dance in Texas this summer because her classes at Joffrey focus on a Russian style.
She’s excited to have her friend going too.
“I’ve never gone that long away from home, away from everything. It’s a new experience.”
Alexa’s mother, Alyssa Rodriguez, said she is thankful the girls can share the opportunity in Austin together, especially after a challenging year for her daughter.
“She has been suffering from an injury in her hip and we were unsure she would even be able to audition. After getting the OK from her doctor, it was so refreshing and comforting to Alexa to have a good friend with her.”
Alexa Patrick has similar dreams to her friend of becoming a professional dancer.
“I’d love to dance at Joffrey, where I dance now, as a professional because I know it so well and I feel like they’re accepting of different types of dancers.”
She said she appreciates her family’s sacrifices for her to dance and she doesn’t know what she would do without them.