Every week for the last 11 years, Priyanka Parkar and Gabby Trost have left school, changed into their ballet attire and headed to Gotta Dance, the practice studio for the Plano Metropolitan Ballet. Now in their senior year of high school, their final performances are upon them, including their upcoming roles as Cinderella and the Fairy Godmother.
Nonprofit ballet company Plano Metropolitan Ballet performs an annual original fairy tale ballet at the beginning of the year where local ballet students perform nine shows, including those for the public and shows with Q&A sessions for area Girl Scout troops, at The Courtyard Theater in Downtown Plano.
“Girl Scout performances are always fun because we get to answer questions from little girls who are watching ballet probably for the first time,” Parkar says. “They’re always so curious about the costumes or how we dance or how long we dance, so it’s always fun answering their questions.”
This year, the company is performing Cinderella, where principal dancers Priyanka Parkar, a senior at Plano East Senior High will play the Fairy Godmother, and Gabby Trost, a senior at Plano Senior High will play Cinderella.
“We’ve danced together for so long and it being both of our senior years, like every show season we’ve been in the same role or at the same level,” Parkar says. “So this is our last year dancing together and it’s sad.”
When did you start your career in ballet?
Parkar: I came to Plano Met Ballet in the first grade, so I’ve been dancing for 11 years now. My first production was actually Cinderella with the junior company and I was a mouse. I stayed in the junior company for a few years, and then moved up to Plano Met Ballet where I’ve been since sixth grade.
Trost: I came to the studio in kindergarten and joined the junior company when I was in third grade before joining the Plano Met Ballet in sixth grade as well.
One thing that’s been really highlighted in this show is the costumes. Have you had any challenges with the costumes in this production?
Parkar: We have to start the costume process really early to make sure that we can actually wear it because we actually had a situation where my crown was just really big so I wouldn’t have been able to dance with like two pounds on my head. But I’m wearing a crown and a white and pink tutu.
Trost: I have two separate costumes because I have the raggedy one in the first half of the ballet, which is just like a blue dress with a little apron and a bandana. Then I have like a minute to change out of that and change into the ballroom dress, which is a pancake tutu. That has been a little difficult because I have some partnering work, so I’m trying to figure out how to maneuver because of this big thing around me.
If you were to describe this production to someone who wants to come but isn’t familiar with ballet, how would you describe it?
Trost: It’s definitely not your typical ballet that you would go see. It’s something that’s a little bit easier for younger kids to sit through since normal ballets are two to three hours and ours is probably an hour and a half with intermission.
Parkar: It’s also a story that most people know, whereas with ballets we have done like Carmen or something, not many people know those stories.
Over the past 11 years at Plano Met Ballet, what is your favorite production that you’ve done?
Trost: It’s a really hard choice, but I think my favorite was Aladdin, just because it was right after COVID. Our COVID year wasn’t fun because we couldn’t dance with the entire company. Aladdin was right after the company finally got to be altogether in the house. We were also both level sevens that year, and it was just the two of us at that level, so it was our first year in a bigger role which was really exciting.
Parkar: I loved Aladdin, but also our first year. It was Sleeping Beauty and we were little kids. Your first year in the company, you’re always seeing changes so it’s not anything crazy but I remember that we all thought we were amazing and thought nothing could stop us.
How do you feel that you’ve grown over the course of being in the company?
Trost: Definitely through this program and also the drill team I’ve learned how to listen to my body’s needs, like if something is hurting or whatnot. That way I don’t overdo it and get hurt.
Parkar: I think I found my own individual artistic appearance, whereas when I started through level three, four or five we were always in a group and I never paid attention to my own dancing because it didn’t feel like it mattered as much, but I’ve grown over the years and really tried to find my own style.
What are your plans for next year? Will you be pursuing ballet in college?
Parkar: I want to major in business, hopefully at UT. Fingers crossed. I’m going to probably find some classes or clubs in whatever college I go to see if I can continue ballet. You can always find dance groups, but it’s really difficult to find the specific niche of ballet groups at some schools, so I hope I can find that.
Trost: I’m not sure where I want to go, but I want to major in something related to education and then minor in dance because I’m still hoping to have at least some kind of professional career, but we will see how that plays out.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
Cinderella will be showing at the Courtyard Theater at 1509 Avenue H from Jan. 5-20. Tickets are $20 and are available online.