Today’s “Student Spotlight” features Ally Brodsky from The School at Steps…
1. Can you tell readers how you became involved with dance?
I first became involved in dance at age three when my parents enrolled me in beginner ballet at a local studio in Naples, Florida. A few years later, I began to formally study the RAD ballet technique and to take the required yearly exams. I also participated in Jazz classes and joined the studio’s competition team. At age eleven, I moved to New York City with my family, where I joined the Pre-Professional Program at The School at Steps. Since then, I have added Theater dance to the list of disciplines in which I participate, and I have continued to dance over eighteen hours per week.
2. What do you find you like best about dance class?
My favorite part of class is rehearsing for the winter and spring performances. Although I love working to improve my technique, I find that practicing — both variations and other choreographic works — helps me develop a fuller sense of artistry. These rehearsals pay off once I am on stage because I feel extremely prepared and find that I can truly enjoy my time performing.
3. What is the hardest part about dance for you?
I find showing emotion to be surprisingly difficult. While on my competition team, I was taught that each dance style required a different set of facial expressions: big, cheesy smiles for jazz; forlorn puppy-dog eyes and distressed, open mouths for lyrical jazz; and sassy smirks for hip-hop and jazz funk. However, as I have matured in my dancing, I have learned that these prescribed expressions are no longer appropriate or acceptable. Now, I must take the time to really plan my character and dancing intent before a show in order to break the barrier between my everyday self and performer.
If a dancer doesn’t fully trust the movement she is creating, the audience will not be convinced. Therefore, it is incredibly important that you – the dancer – always be confident. If you make a mistake, make it with conviction. You don’t ever want to leave the stage after a show and regret that you didn’t try to make your performance special, simply because you were worrying about falling during a difficult sequence or landing a jump on the wrong count.
5. How has dance changed your life?
Dance has kept me grounded. No matter what is going on at school, with friends, or in other aspects of my life, I can always rely on it to make me feel better or to relieve my stress. It has also kept me focused and given me the physical and emotional strength required to accomplish my goals both in and out of the studio. Perhaps most importantly, dance’s constant presence in my life has improved my self-confidence, and the people I have met through dance have opened my eyes to new and unique perspectives that I otherwise may not have experienced. I am so glad that I realized dance was my passion at such a young age, and I cannot imagine living without it.
The School at Steps is a training ground for students, ages 2-18, who are interested in exploring various dance styles, as well as for those students already focused on a particular discipline. The school offers an Academic Year and Summer Program, with classes in ballet, modern, tap, jazz, theater dance, hip hop, and pilates. Students at the school are also given performance opportunities, and workshops on dance and career-related topics. Beginning with the Young Dancers Program and continuing through the most advanced pre-professional classes, The School at Steps provides children with an opportunity to explore the world of dance, to learn and experiment with technique, and to enrich their appreciation for the various forms of the art.