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“There was no time whatsoever to feel bad for myself, to be scared,” she explains.

Over the next month and a half, she performed parts in three ballets and then, after summer break, leapt into rehearsals for the company’s current U.S. tour, stopping in Costa Mesa and Berkeley, Calif. The company is performing at the Kennedy Center through Sunday.

Although she craves it, Miss Kampa admits that comfort is elusive in her chosen career. A life in ballet has meant tremendous physical and mental challenges, separation from loved ones, missing out on romantic relationships, and countless other aches and pressures. But the dancer’s azure eyes glow as she talks about what she’s accomplished and where she is right now.

“I cannot stress how inspiring it is just being around those dancers,” she says. “I just want to soak up everything I can.”