Sophomore Hannah Martin stays on pointe


Photo Courtesy of Betty Thurmond. Hannah Martin, right, relaxes after a hike.

The Southerner

Photo Courtesy of Betty Thurmond.
Hannah Martin, right, relaxes after a hike.


Ballerinas are often described as graceful, elegant and poised. Hannah Martin is just that. The 15-year-old effortlessly glides into every room and is often seen twirling around, practicing pirouettes, port de bras, tendus and piques, all ballet moves she has mastered.

“She’s tall and graceful. The perfect ballerina,” Margo Stockdale, a childhood friend of Martin’s,said.

Stockdale went to the production of Snow White last year to support Martin, who was in the show. “I think she’s a really good ballerina,” Stockdale said. “Not many people can do that.”

Martin, a sophomore at Henry W. Grady High School, has been doing ballet for 10 years with Callanwolde Dance Ensemble. Martin said a Nutcracker movie inspired her start in ballet.

 “Every Christmas my mom and I watch the 1980-something version of The Nutcracker with Gelsey Kirkland and Mikhail Baryshnikov,” Martin said. “I always wanted to be as pretty and dainty as GelseyKirkland was. It made me want to do ballet.”

 Martin is very dedicated to ballet, spending roughly 10 hours a week at practices and rehearsals. Right now, the dance ensemble is rehearsing for a winter performance of The Nutcracker, where Martin has the part of a Russian, Waltz demi-soloist and Icicle. She said performing makes her nervous but happy.

 Hannah admits that she did not always enjoy ballet. “It’s always been apart of my life, but I was never really passionate about it until seventh grade,” she said.

 Martin said she does not really know what made her appreciate ballet more, she just became more focused. “I am ballet!” she said jokingly.

 Martin said ballet has made her who she is today.She jokes around by saying the only thing she has gotten out of ballet is “good posture.” But she said ballet has also helped her become more responsible and has given her confidence and passion.Martin said she plans to continue ballet, but does not plan on pursuing a career in dance.

 Betty Thurmond, Martin’s mother, did ballet for 18 years and has been a big influence on Hannah. Thurmond supported Martin when she first became interested in dance. She helped her realize its importance early on.

Emily Dean, a classmate of Martin’s, said that Martin’s dedication to ballet is awesome. “She has a lot of talents,” Dean said.

 But Martin is not like most ballerinas. “Besides ballet, I also backpack,”Martin said. “I think that’s one thing that separates me from the other dancers.”

Martin often backpacks with her mom. They started backpacking together nine years ago. “She used to bug me to take her on trips out west and I told her she couldn’t go unless she could hang with the big people and that’s when I started taking her to Stone Mountain,” Thurmond said.“But she thought it was going to be a lot easier than it really is and she would say, ‘Why don’t you take me? Why don’t you take me?’” 

Martin and Thurmond train by hiking up Stone Mountain with weighted backpacks. After training, the two then go on hikes around the country. Martin and her mom have backpacked in Washington, Virginia, North Carolina and most recently, California. At the beginning of the school year Martin took off a week from school to go backpacking in the great forests of Yosemite National Park.

“We backpacked through Adams Woods and Yosemite. I got to summit Banner Peak and swim in glacier-fed lakes,” she said. “I saw a lot of different wildlife. When I watched the sunrise, the coyotes howled.”

Martin said she enjoys backpacking because it is relaxing and brings her closer to nature. “Its enlightening,” she said. “It’s made me more adventurous and made me want to see more of the world from a natural perspective.”

Martin is unique participating in both ballet and backpacking. Ballet, being a delicate dance, and backpacking, being a rough and daring adventure, the two have almost nothing in common except for Martin’s love of both.

“I think she’s an all-around superstar,” Stockdale said.

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