Elina Miettinen is the first Finnish ballerina to join American Ballet Theater and so far the only one. She was born in Russia, but moved to Helsinki at the age of five. Due to her Finnish father, and growing up in Finland, she identifies herself as a Finn.
Whereas many ballerinas start dancing extremely young, Elina was relatively old when she found her way in to the ballet world. She started rhythmic gymnastics at the age of seven, which changed to ballet at the age of nine, when she started at Helsinki Dance Institute inspired by her mother’s suggestion. Elina loved to dance, but the teenage years brought some challenges – she would have wanted to spend time with friends, whereas practicing took up the majority of the time. Today she is thankful to her parents who didn’t let her quit.
At the age of fifteen, Elina decided to try her luck in competitions, and that’s also when she had thoughts for the first time about becoming a professional ballerina. Around this time she also started high school at Mäkelänrinteen lukio (a high school for athletes) in Helsinki, which, she feels, brought her plenty of freedom to integrate practicing and studying. However, the last year of the high school was completed entirely as distance learning, since Elina was training ballet full time in Amsterdam.
After that year, Elina returned to Finland in 2006 and immediately managed to get a job at Finnish National Ballet. Still, she hadn’t given up that competitive spark and was training for competitions in her spare time. In 2007, she competed in the Scandinavian Ballet Competition and won a prize trip to the International Ballet Competition in France, where she won a bronze medal. In the meantime, she had also been representing Finland in NYC, and soon American Ballet Theater was ready to hire her.
In January 2008 Elina left Finland behind, and has danced with ABT ever since. Her weeks consist of five to six working days filled with several types of training. She travels around the world for the shows. Even though life as a professional dancer can be challenging, Elina has no intention to stop dancing before she no longer enjoys it. In the future, she hopes to grow as an artist. In addition to dancing, Elina has recently taken acting classes, and wishes to perhaps expand her career to the acting field in the future.
Although Elina has for sure become a New Yorker during these eight years, she wants to cherish her Finnish background. According to her, where one comes from feels more and more important the longer you have been abroad. In Finland, Elina has performed at Lappeenranta Ballet Gala in 2013 and she happily welcomes performing opportunities in Finland in the future as well.
However, if you live in New York area, keep an eye on American Ballet Theater’s spring schedule and reserve your seats at the Metropolitan Opera to see this extraordinary talent!