By James BrabenecApril 18, 2019
FORT SILL, Okla., April 18, 2019 -- Chloe Patterson uses the virtues of discipline, determination, and hard work to help her refine her art form of beauty and grace -- ballet.
The daughter of Amie and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jeremy Patterson first danced at age 4 during her father's assignment to Army Garrison Bamberg, Germany. Amie said Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation's Child and Youth Services offered many activities to keep her active daughter busy.
Early on, an opportunity to perform arose; Amie recalled her thoughts when Chloe took the stage in her first recital.
"I was definitely proud of her, and besides, she was so cute at that age," said Amie.
As Chloe grew up, so too did her interest in dancing.
"She always loved to dance but it wasn't until the age of 9 that she found the absolute drive to want to dance all the time and perfect her talent," said Jeremy. "She has been a meticulous person and this attributes to her quality of dance."
In dance, Chloe found an art form in which she felt at home. She said ballet provides her a medium where she can show that she's "a loving and caring person."
"It lets me express myself in a way that can't really be done through words," she said. "Any feelings I have translate into movement, which is really comforting to me."
Now 16 years old, Chloe continues to dance at Lawton Ballet Theatre where she moves with balance, poise, and agility in ballet, tap, jazz, modern, and contemporary dances.
"I like to do as many different styles as I possibly can," said Chloe, a home-school student who also takes classes at Cameron University.
She added that growing up in a military family has broadened her education and dancing ability.
"Being a military child has helped me a lot because I got to learn from so many different people," she said. "Dancing in so many different places really molded me into who I am today."
Both parents expressed their appreciation of how ballet keeps their daughter busy, even though it takes up much of the family's free time.
"I'm so proud every time I've seen her dance and am really amazed at a lot of the things she can do, such as the flexibility of how she can bend herself backward or the strength she has to hold her leg all the way up in the air," said Amie.
As a military professional, Jeremy understands the time and effort required to develop himself as a Soldier and warrant officer. In a similar manner, he's ready to help Chloe achieve her potential.
"Sometimes we're down at Lawton Ballet until 9:30 at night sitting in the car waiting for her," said Jeremy, the food services adviser to the 75th Field Artillery Brigade commander. "But, if that's what it takes, I don't have to care how long I wait, because she's doing something that's positive."
Long before productions are ready for a paying audience, dancers work countless hours in preparation. Chloe practices at least two hours a day, four days a week plus weekends.
"Chloe is very much a perfectionist and determined to dance correctly," said Jeremy.
Though an art, she said there are definite rules to ballet, such as good posture, feet pointed, legs extended, and shoulders down, to name a few.
"Other styles are a bit more free, but the rules of ballet make it easy to concentrate on that and let everything else go," said Chloe.
Strength and flexibility certainly lay the foundation for complying with these rules. She builds some of this at home working on her splits or developing her core with crunches and sit-ups. The rest comes at the dance studio building up this 5-foot, 8-inch teenager. "Some nights I come home and the next day I'm sore, like hurray! I did a good job!"
Emotional challenges often accompany the physical demands of dance, and like a lot of performers, Chloe said she experiences anxious arrivals to her performances. This nervousness increases with the ascent of the curtain.
"I am absolutely in panic mode," she said, "but after, I'm very much relaxed and relieved."
Given some productions run multiple dates, such as "The Nutcracker," where Chloe danced the part of the Sugar Plum Fairy, she said her performance agitation dissipates a bit. In the event she makes a mistake, she doesn't compound it with another.
"I just have to keep moving and look back on it later," she said. "I just have to stay in the moment to keep the feel of the dance going."