Student Features

PA Cyber pre-professional ballerina to perform "The Nutcracker"

Dec 4, 2019

Patricia Hohman does a coupe. 

A PA Cyber sophomore will take the stage in "The Nutcracker" this holiday season in the Pittsburgh Ballet House's production.

Patricia Hohman, 15, of Seven Fields, will perform Dec. 6 in the role of Clara and on Dec. 7 in the roles of a Snowflake, a Flower, and she will be in the Russian Dance. Both productions are 7 p.m. at Seneca Valley Intermediate High School in Harmony, Pa.

Clara, the main character who falls asleep and dreams about a prince, is a role many young ballerinas aspire to play, including Hohman.

"I love this role because it is very expressive, and you really have to tell a story through your movement. Clara has to portray many emotions," she said.

For generations, "The Nutcracker" has set the stage for the holiday season as a tradition for both young and old. The 127-year-old tale features the iconic score by Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and is filled with fantasy and warmth.

Hohman said most ballet studios and companies perform "The Nutcracker" every year, and she has performed almost every role.

She currently trains about 40 hours per week at the Pittsburgh Ballet House in Cranberry Township under the tutelage of Kwang Suk Choi and Sae Yung Kang, whom she says, "are amazing."

Choi, director of the Pittsburgh Ballet House, said Hohman is a pre-professional ballerina, a title only bestowed to those who have proven their talents and are dancing principal roles.

"Patricia is a very hard worker and a very beautiful dancer. When she was younger, she started in a ballet class with us and right now she is pretty much a prima ballerina already. She's a hard worker and she's very giving of her time."

She began dancing at the age of 3 and, for the first several years, didn't like ballet at all. As it became more challenging, though, she started enjoying the constant hard work and attention to detail it requires.

"I learned that it was a wonderful way to express myself," she said. "That just proves that if you stick with something, you can end up enjoying it more than you could have ever imagined."

In the summer of 2017, Hohman left home to live and train in Washington, D.C., at the world-renowned Kirov Academy of Ballet, thanks to a generous scholarship. She trained at the Kirov for two years.

"It was very hard to be away from my family, but I learned so much about working with others and made friends from Costa Rica, Japan, and everywhere in between."

Hohman said she was honored to be selected to perform with one of the oldest and greatest ballet companies of all time: the Mariinsky Ballet from Russia. Mariinsky was on tour in Washington and performed "La Bayadère" at the Kennedy Center there. During the tour, Hohman was paid for the opportunity to perform in front of thousands of people in the dance called "Manu."

"It was very nerve-racking because it was just me, a classmate, and one of the soloists on the stage where so many famous people have performed."

Hohman said ballet has given her many wonderful opportunities and experiences, but it also has provided many challenges, which one of the reasons she feels "very thankful" to perform in "The Nutcracker" this year.

"In the past two years, I have dislocated my knee and then shortly after returning from that injury, I tore a tendon in my foot," she said. "I was told I needed surgery and would have a long recovery back. It was very frustrating, and it was hard to stay positive."

She relied on advice from her father, who always tells her, "you are never failing or losing. You are only learning and growing."

With the help of her parents, Joseph and Patricia Hohman, her chiropractor, and physical therapist, she decided that she would not have surgery and would instead rest and gradually train her way back to ballet.

"It was a chance to learn more about myself, grow even stronger physically and mentally, and improve my technique," she said. "Six months later, I am so grateful to be able to dance pain-free in 'The Nutcracker.'"

With 12 years of dance, international training, countless rehearsals, and stage performances under her belt, Hohman will continue to shape her story by dancing "The Nutcracker," a magical tale that has inspired countless young dancers.

Hohman's goal is to someday become a professional ballerina and she aspires to become a part of New York's American Ballet Theatre or London's Royal Ballet Theatre. She also enjoys teaching and wants to teach ballet to people of all ages and share her love of the art.

PA Cyber is also part of her story. Having flexibility between schoolwork and the dance studio has been a blessing, she said.

Her English teacher, Amanda Sovesky, said that Hohman is as excellent of a student in the classroom as she is in the dance studio.

"Patricia is a hard worker, completing her assignments on time despite having a full schedule practicing her dance," Sovesky said. "She is also friendly and personable in our conversations. She is a great example of how PA Cyber is able to give students the flexibly to pursue their dreams while still in high school."

"I am so happy to be at PA Cyber," Hohman said. "At Kirov, we had wonderful academic teachers and our classes were challenging, but our schedules were set up based on our artistic rehearsals, so it was easier to manage the demands on our time. When I returned home to my old school, I struggled to keep up with everything. It was very stressful. But since I switched to PA Cyber, I have much more flexibility and it has been a big relief to have teachers who understand and support the goal I am trying to achieve."

Patricia Hohman does an arabesque.

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About PA Cyber

Serving students in kindergarten through 12th grade, the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School (PA Cyber) is one of the largest, most experienced, and most successful online public schools in the nation. PA Cyber's online learning environments, personalized instruction methods, and choices of curricula connect Pennsylvania students and their families with state-certified and highly-qualified teachers and rich academic content that is aligned to state standards. Founded in 2000, PA Cyber is headquartered in Midland (Beaver County) and maintains a network of support offices throughout the state. As a public school, PA Cyber is open for enrollment by any school-age child residing in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and does not charge tuition to students or families.