Jasmine Perry: Dreams in motion

An occasional series saluting young people carving out a future in the arts.

The idea was simply to give a 7-year-old an outlet for her energy. "It wasn't strict training. It was just bouncing around and having fun," Jasmine Perry recalls.

But the teachers in N.C. Dance Theatre's school saw something special. They nudged her toward ballet classes.

By the time she was 13, Jasmine was playing Clara - a budding ballerina's plum role - in NCDT's "Nutcracker." "It was a lot of work, and I was scared," Jasmine says. "But then I got used to it. And performing became more of a fun thing to do. ... Every performance, you learn something."

She realized she wanted dance to be her life, not her hobby. Last year, Jasmine went to New York for a summer program at the School of American Ballet, the teaching arm of the New York City Ballet. The school invited her to stay.

So Jasmine, now 15, is a full-time student at the same school that trained NCDT's Patricia McBride. Her goal is to dance with the New York City Ballet, just as McBride did. Jasmine is soaking up everything she can.

"Every correction they give one student, you have to take for yourself. Everything they say to you is to help you, not to pick at you. And if they like something you're doing, they share it with the class. ... You know that they're there just to help you and train you."