Shannon Rodriguez - Greece Odyssey Academy

When she's not attending class at Greece Odyssey Academy, Shannon Rodriguez is dancing at the Draper Center for Dance Education. Shannon is one a few select students allowed to understudy and perform with the Rochester City Ballet. "When I'm performing I think about that," she says. "This is what I work so hard for every day and what I'd rather be doing with my time. It's what makes me happiest."

In 2010, Shannon was one of only 22 young women chosen for the Summer Dance Initiative at the prestigious Juliard School in New York. This summer, she earned similar honors from the Joffrey Ballet in Chicago. "She just is so exciting, exuberant," says Beth Bartholomew, Ballet Mistress of the Rochester City Ballet. "She eats up the stage and she always has, even as a child. I know her but when people come from out of town to teach, they say 'oh, who's that?' She just has this special glow, which you need."

This Thanksgiving holiday, Shannon will perform in the annual performance of The Nutcracker by the Rochester City Ballet. She plays Spanish Chocolate, and it suits her to a tee. "It's been my dream role since I was 7 years old so this is definitely really exciting," she says.

This talented ballerina is interested in modern dance too. She's already won a dance scholarship to the University of Arizona and has applied to Juliard. She's devoted to hard work and the joy of performing.

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