Spirit-led Ballerina Finds Unexpected Path

An Australian ballet dancer is guided to creative solutions for keeping the Sabbath Day Holy

bianca3 Photo credit: Michael Ibrahim
Photo credit: Michael Ibrahim

“I started ballet at age seven because I wanted to be a princess,” says Bianca Carnovale, from Sydney, Australia. Soon after she began training, she learned that the dance world does not stop to remember the Sabbath day. She had to decide where she stood.

As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Bianca strives to keep Sundays free from work and other activities that take her away from worship. Whether it’s sports or performing arts, the decision for Latter-day Saints to set these activities aside on the Sabbath can sometimes be emotionally challenging.

Not wanting to let anyone down, knowing that Sunday pieces would have to be choreographed without her, Bianca also struggled. Her teachers would say, “No company will want you; why would they choose you over someone who will dance on Sunday?”

But Bianca remembers, from as young as seven, talking with her mother about dancing on Sundays. When she had to miss out on exams and performances, those talks helped Bianca understand that pleasing God was more important.

She studied at her local Marni’s School of Performing Arts until the age of 14, then won a spot in the Pre-Professional Program at the National College of Dance in Newcastle, which was two hours away from home. For the next three years, Bianca lived in Newcastle five days a week, an experience that prepared her to move to New York City, USA on her own.

“Dancer Bianca Carnovale in beautiful form.” Photo credit: Ron Fung

Although she still never danced on a Sunday, at age 17, Bianca was accepted into New York’s prestigious Ballet Academy East, where she had the exciting opportunity to study the Balanchine ballet method.

It wasn’t always fun. “There were times in New York, away from all my friends and family, I felt I had no one,” Bianca remembers. “Crying one night…I remember praying to my Heavenly Father and asking Him for [a hug]. I will never forget the warmth that flooded my chest. Although it made me cry more, they were definitely happy tears, and I did not feel alone anymore.”

After almost two years, the COVID-19 pandemic shut down New York and sent Bianca home, where she had to find a job, but kept up her ballet training. Later, she prayerfully considered a full-time mission, but was prompted to move to Melbourne where she hoped to get into the Australian Ballet Company.

Photo credit: Michael Ibrahim

Then the lockdowns started again, and Bianca soon missed performing. She began dancing in the park, just to get outdoors, but then her mother suggested she try ballet busking when the lockdowns ended. At first, Bianca thought the idea was crazy, but when her friends from church also encouraged it, she gave it a go.

Bianca choreographed dances in her flat, then ventured into the city streets to perform them. “At first, I only had headphones, but started dancing anyway. Then I got speakers. From there, I learned all the tips and tricks of busking: using cones and roping off a stage area…perfecting choreography… [managing] a crowd. Busking was a whole new world.”

Bianca still dreamed of getting into a ballet company. While busking, she kept training and auditioning. One company that seemed interested in her asked, “Why don’t you…perform on Sunday, and then go to church?” With Bianca’s insistence that Sabbath observance was more than just going to church, that opportunity fell through.

“I wanted so much to dance professionally,” Bianca reflects. In her prayers she even told Heavenly Father how inspiring it would be to all the little dancers if she got into a ballet company without working on Sundays. “Looking back, I now laugh at trying to tell Heavenly Father what was best.”

Photo credit: Michael Ibrahim

Bianca ponders a lesson taught by Elder D. Todd Christofferson: “We ought not to think of God’s plan as a cosmic vending machine where we (1) select a desired blessing, (2) insert the required sum of good works, and (3) the order is promptly delivered.”

“I knew Heavenly Father wanted me to dance,” she says. “I knew He wanted me to strive towards getting into a ballet company, but as the years went by it became very apparent that He never promised me I would actually get into one.”

Pursuing her dream to work for a company has made Bianca an exceptionally skilled performer, but as of March 2022, she has supported herself completely on busking – a path that has had unexpected outcomes. 

Photo credit: Stephanie Carnovale

While she was dancing one day, she recalls, “I happened to see the glowing face of a 13-year-old girl... I’ve been that girl before, and I know that feeling. I can make people smile and cry; I wouldn’t change that for anything…I always wanted to serve others … now Heavenly Father has provided me with the opportunity to serve in the most unique way!”

“Getting into a company would be inspiring,” she continues, “but I think it is so much more inspiring that I would keep His commandment.”

President Russell M. Nelson once said, “Obedience brings success. Exact obedience brings miracles.” 

Echoing his words, Bianca proclaims: “Heavenly Father has told me, ‘If you keep my commandments, I will show you miracles’.

“Do I trust Him? Yes!”