Anna Trebunskaya Writes a Letter to Her Teenage Self

April 13, 2016

Ballroom icon Anna Trebunskaya, who returned to “Dancing with the Stars” this past fall after a five-season hiatus, is both a fierce technician and a firecracker onstage, lighting up performances with her sultry passion. After moving to the U.S. at the age of 17 to pursue a professional ballroom career, the Russian-born Trebunskaya began racking up competition titles— in 2006, she and partner Pavlo Barsuk won third place in the professional Latin U.S. final. These days, when she’s not competing for the mirror ball trophy, she’s teaching at the ballroom studio she owns with her mom in Hermosa Beach, CA, or taking on acting jobs. (You may have caught her in the last season of “The Newsroom.”) Look for her this month on “DWTS.” —Courtney Bowers

Dear Anna,

It’s so wonderful to see your love for dance grow every day. You’re discovering that technique is magical and necessary, and that with it you can create any movement, as well as control the physical expression of your mental intention.

However, it’s important to remember that your technical prowess is a tool, not a gospel. And although perfection is an honorable pursuit, don’t get caught in chasing the most “perfect” line or turn. Instead, let go, live the experience, breathe, enjoy and bring your uniqueness to every step.

You’re worthy and good enough. There’s no creation without feeling like you did something wrong, no learning without mistakes.

It will take time. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Be patient and persistent, and don’t feel sorry for yourself or blame others or your circumstances. Be malleable for your teachers and take their criticism with gratitude—they correct you because they care.

Some things will be easier for you to achieve and some you’ll have to work hard for, but in the end all the work you put into your career and craft will pay off. Stay focused and positive, and love what you do.

Take breaks when you feel burned out. Everyone needs a breather from time to time! Be open-minded and willing to change. Stop and see where your path is taking you. Does it feel right? Why? Is it worth it? If the answer is “yes,” then commit wholeheartedly and the future will take your breath away.

Best of luck,