Dancing Toward Her Dreams

Thanks to the flexibility of Launch, Ladue Horton Watkins Junior Grace Scheffel is currently finishing up her first year of an apprenticeship with the New York City Ballet.
By Savannah Waszczuk

At age 11, Long Island native Grace Scheffel took her first steps towards fulfilling her dreams of dancing with the New York City Ballet when she started attending the prestigious program’s official training academy. “I started at the School of American Ballet in seventh grade,” Grace says. “We lived in New York until I was 16. But then my dad accepted a new job during the pandemic, and our family relocated to St. Louis.” As Grace’s family searched for a school district in the Show Me State, finding one with flexibility for Grace’s travel, training and performance schedule was a must. “When we were interviewing with Ladue, I asked them about online options,” says Grace’s mom, Jennifer. “They told us, ‘There’s this program called Launch, and we think she may be a great candidate for it.’”

Fast forward two years, and Grace now has an apprenticeship with the New York City Ballet and is in her fourth semester of Launch classes. At press time, she had just finished a marathon of performances in George Balanchine’s “Nutcracker.” “I’d say the best thing about Launch, for me, is the flexibility I have with both my course work and the teachers,” Grace says. “I’ve done different schools online in the past, and it’s been really hard to find teachers who understand my schedule. Also, Launch has allowed me to travel between Missouri and New York and remain in the program, and even provided me the flexibility to accept the apprenticeship last summer.”