Today we have a student from the University of Maryland with us for the “student spotlight”…
My involvement in dance began when I was an infant. Most parents enroll their children in gymnastics, soccer, football, etc., but I was enrolled in dance! My mother enrolled me into my first ballet class and I have been dancing ever since. I was told that I picked up the movement and was always focused in class. I would come home and practice my tendus, plies, and arms, so from that point on, dance was my primary hobby. It was not until I was a freshman in high school when I realized dance would be my passion to pursue as a career.
2) What do you find you like best about dance class?
My favorite part of dance class, surprisingly enough, is the warm-up. Although it is difficult to start moving around at 9:30 a.m. in a cold studio, I find this part to be where I am most connected and aware. I have always found it fascinating when the body can transform from a stiff, cold structure into a state where it is warm, limber and ready to move and take on the class. This part of class is where I have the most self-awareness for which body parts need more attention and time for stretching. This awareness practices my self-connectivity and really teaches me to listen to my body’s needs every morning. The warm-up is both my favorite part and the most crucial part of class.
3) What is the hardest part about dance for you?
The hardest part with dance for me is being able to keep my facial expressions active throughout the movement. Sometimes I find myself getting so caught up in the moment of a performance that I lose some of the character. My face during performances is my main focus this year every dance class and it is something I am hoping to make stronger so that I can be a well rounded dancer and performer.
4) What advice would you give to other dancers?
If I could give any advice to other dancers it would be to accept everyone and everything- practice being judgment free in dance class. I accept critiques from many dancers with different backgrounds, which opens my world to new ways of approaching choreography, accepting constructive criticism, and mimicking surrounding dancers. I sometimes try to imitate dancers around me so I can experience a new way of moving that is different from my preference. If you are able to be judgment free to the artists that are around you, your personal growth will be so wonderful and versatile. The more experiences, the merrier!
5) How has dance changed your life?
Dance has changed my life in so many ways, but more importantly it has shaped the person who I am. Dance keeps me physically fit, self-connected and aware of my body. It also keeps help me retain positive energy. Dance has shaped me the most in how I conduct myself in the world. I always have a positive attitude and energy with tasks that I take on or connections that I have with other people. Dance is my release when I feel stress or anxiety, and it is also the release with my body for when I feel tension, knots, or pain.
Besides the emotional benefits and physical benefits, dance has shaped how I come to conclusions. At school we have been taught to focus on what the end result of a process is. I am quite the opposite and focus on the steps that lead me to the conclusion, how they are relevant, and what the most important parts to the exploration were. This way of consolidating a jumble of thoughts makes my opinions, conclusions and responses have more clarity than they normally would. I used to be notorious for giving a lot of unnecessary extra information, but with dance, I am able to transfer my personal experiences and practices in to the real world!
BIO: Gabriella Meiterman-Rodriguez grew up in Manalapan, New Jersey. She began dance at the age of three, but it was not until she was thirteen when she realized dance would be her passion to pursue more seriously. She studied at the Fine And Performing Arts High School in Howell, NJ and continues her education at the University of Maryland studying Dance with a focus in choreography and performance. She is the founder and president of the Gamma Chapter to Delta Chi Xi Honorary Dance Fraternity. This organization, originating in North Carolina, hopes to create more opportunities for dance involvement with the students at UMD and the surrounding College Park community. Gabriella hopes to pursue a career in Dance Education and to teach in a school system where she can motivate students to pursue their passion in dance the way she was motivated at her performing arts high school!