How old were you when you first started taking dance classes and what did you think of them?
I started dancing when I was three, but I have loved to dance since I could walk. I always loved making up dances when I heard music and performing them for anyone around me. When I was in 5th grade (I’m in 10th now), I started at The School at Steps’ Pre-Professional Program, which turned my dancing from a hobby into a real part of my life. I always knew I loved theater and jazz dance but I never thought I would love ballet as much as I do now. Falling in love with ballet was something I discovered through my training at The School at Steps.
How many classes are you taking now?
I am currently taking 11 classes a week over the course of 5 days. I take ballet everyday, and, in addition, I take pointe, jazz, theater dance, Horton, and partnering.
What has dance taught you about yourself?
Dance has taught me a lot of discipline and control. It has not only helped me in the dance studio but has also taught me to manage my schoolwork and my friends. It can be hard to balance it all, I devote so much time to my dance and homework, yet still want to keep a social life. The key, I have learned, is to have a good work ethic in both my schoolwork and my technique in dance. In the studio, dance has taught me to stay focused and work my hardest each and every day. It has helped me understand what I want, that I may not be perfect at everything immediately, and to focus on particulars. Once I feel I’ve reached my goal, it is about enjoying myself!
What do you think is the hardest thing about dance?
The hardest thing about dance for me has being able to accept my body for the way it looks and is naturally made. I definitely don’t have the “ideal” body type, especially for ballet, and have bad turnout on top of the way I am built. I can honestly say that I haven’t fully overcome what I’m considering the hardest part of dance for me, but that is also what gives me strength as a dancer. I don’t think I am alone in this either, I believe that embracing the way you are made, taking those natural challenges and using them to be stronger and more unique, can create the best dancers.
What is the most enjoyable thing about dance for you?
One of the most enjoyable things for me is seeing the goals you created for yourself become a reality, whether it be perfecting an extra turn, picking up combinations faster, or emphasizing your expressions more. It takes a lot of work, focus, and time to achieve something, but the moment you realize you have succeeded is amazing.
I also think the best feeling in the world is being able to perform on stage in front of other people. The rush of adrenaline and passion that goes into any performance is difficult to describe — the moment when you get to give a performance everything, after working so hard.
Do you think you will stay involved in dance, and if so, how?
I can’t imagine my life without dance right now. That being said, I don’t see myself becoming a professional ballerina, nor did I ever, but I know that whatever I do in life, I want dance to always be there. I originally increased my dance training because I wanted to be an actress, and I knew dance was necessary to pursue my Broadway dreams. Now I have become very interested in choreographing, not performing in the pieces, but rather creating the art. I’m unsure how exactly I want dance to be in my life, but I currently dance so much, I know I don’t ever want to give it up entirely.
What would be your best piece of advice for a new dance student?
I think my best advice for a new dance student would be to go into whatever kind of dance they want to pursue with a really open mind. They should understand that everyone is at a different place in their dancing, and, if they love it, the hard work will pay off. I would also tell them to go see dance, whether it is going to the ballet, seeing your peers perform, or even watching YouTube videos. So much of my inspiration comes from watching other dancers on stage, and finding a piece of myself in those dancers I look up to. When you watch other dancers you can notice things they do that relate to your training, and then take that into the studio the next day to better your technique.
The School at Steps cultivates young dancers, ages 3 mos. – 18 yrs., from their first step in a dance studio through their pre-professional training. Students discover their individual artistic voices in a creative environment with the guidance of an internationally recognized faculty. The personal attention the school provides encourages students to mature as dancers, grow as individuals, and enrich their passion for the art form. School at Steps graduates go on to dance with professional companies, study at top college dance programs, and perform on Broadway. http://stepsnyc.com/the-school-at-steps/