Student Spotlight

Student Spotlight: Genevieve Eveleigh

Genevieve Eveleigh

Genevieve Eveleigh is 16 years old and currently trains at English National Ballet School in London alongside 400 other candidates. Before ENBS, Genevieve attended a non-vocational school, but was allowed time away to pursue additional ballet training during Year 10. This resulted in spending time with Autrand Ballet in St. Raphael in the south of France alongside regular schooling in the UK.

Genevieve has studied the Royal Academy of Dance syllabi up to and including Advanced 1. She was a pupil at Milton Academy of Dance and also attended the Associate Programme at The Royal Ballet School in London and The Tring Classical Ballet Academy at The Tring School for Performing Arts.

In 2014, Genevieve was the winner of the Genée Dance Challenge Level 3 semi-final but, unfortunately, couldn’t attend the final due to injury. She was also a finalist for the Molly Lake Award. Having just watched the Prix de Lausanne, Genevieve has aspirations to compete in 2017, and her ultimate goal is to secure a contract with a classical ballet company.

How did you become involved in dance?

My Mum signed me up for ballet when I was probably three, thinking that it would be good for discipline – I think that I was quite strong willed. As I got older, I used to dread my once-a-week class and my Mum used to drag me along to my local dance school, telling me that “I would thank her one day.” I have to admit that she was right – as always!

Now I love the challenge; the ability to push myself through self-imposed boundaries, working with my body to master what it is I have been trying to achieve – it’s incredibly fulfilling when that moment arrives.

What do you like least about class?

My least favourite thing is choreography, which is where I am really out of my comfort zone. I find it really challenging.

What is the hardest part about dance for you?

Confidence and patience. Lots of people think that ballet is all about sparkles and glamour. The truth is that it is tough and brutal. I think that if art is your passion, it’s one of the many reasons that you fall in love with ballet. You do get knocks but you still have to hold your head up high and carry on with confidence.

Patience for me is a work in progress and I struggle with it. If I can’t achieve something I have a tendency to get frustrated and beat myself up. Things don’t get mastered with a click of your fingers… blood, sweat and tears is no lie. If you want it you have to work for it, but give yourself time and notice your improvements as well as recognising what you need to improve on.

What advice would you give to other dancers?

The dance world is competitive. Don’t be fazed by the girl next door on the barre or the one doing triple pirouettes – focus on you and compare yourself to the dancer you were yesterday.

How has dance changed your life?

Dance has made me stronger as a person – more focused, more disciplined, and more mature. Through ballet I have learned to express myself far more eloquently than with words and I have found a world of people to connect with. I love my life and, yes, I’m so grateful to my Mum for not allowing me to give up all those years ago.

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Student Spotlight: Claire Joseph

How old were you when you first started taking dance classes and what did you think of them?

Claire Joseph in class. Photo courtesy of The School at Steps, taken by Eduardo Patino, NYC.

Claire Joseph in class. Photo courtesy of The School at Steps, taken by Eduardo Patino, NYC.

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.

claire_ballet_option

Claire Joseph performing ballet. Photo courtesy of The School at Steps, taken by Eduardo Patino, NYC.

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/​ 

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Student Spotlight: Jemma Wilson

 

Jemma is currently in her third year studying Musical Theatre at Laine Theatre Arts in the UK. She writes for London Theatre Direct in her spare time and will soon begin teaching at a local theatre school, Tomorrow’s Talent.

 

Jemma Wilson

Jemma Wilson

1. Can you tell readers how you became involved with dance?

I remember attending my older sister’s dance classes when I was very young and wanting desperately to join in with what the older girls were doing! It didn’t take long before I began taking classes too, and it has just grown and grown from there. My parents are very supportive and have always encouraged me to do what I enjoy doing, which I am very grateful for.

 

2. What do you find you like best about dance class?

Dance classes are the best when you have a great atmosphere. Dance offers a sense of unity, both on stage and in the studio, that I have not found anywhere else – everybody works diligently and it is amazing to give and receive support from fellow performers. The feeling when you ‘get’ something better than you’ve got it before is really good- you might not nail it every single time, but if you get a tiny bit better each time then you are improving!

 

3. What is the hardest part about dance for you?

Pirouettes on the left side!!

The best and worst thing about dance is how it drains you – emotionally and physically! I love feeling like I’ve worked my hardest, pushed myself further than I did yesterday and consequently achieved more, but it certainly is exhausting! It makes you appreciate any quieter time you do have in life, although it is very difficult to shut off from it. Sometimes I close my eyes to go to sleep and can hear my teachers shouting “once more from the top, 5, 6, 7, 8!”. I have learned to value my weekends a lot more, and to give myself ‘me-time': watching television with my housemates, reading a book, having a bath.

 

4. What advice would you give to other dancers?

It’s such a cliché, but make the most of your training. I am now coming to the end of my three years at Laine, and am growing increasingly worried about how quickly my remaining time is slipping away. Once I leave college I know it will be up to me to maintain my physical fitness, ensure I keep motivated, and make sure I don’t let my technique slip for auditions. Also remember how lucky you are to have picked the best job in the world (in my opinion!) – you are hopefully going to be paid to do the thing you love the most, which is performing on stage. Technique classes seem awful at the time, but all your teachers want you to be the best you can potentially be – that is why they nag you so much!

 

5. How has dance changed your life?

Dance has always been a huge influence on me, and now it is something that my life would not be complete without. I think every performer knows how exhilarating the feeling of being on stage is and I’m so grateful that I have discovered it. Changing dance from my hobby to my career choice was a scary thing to do, but I know that I have chosen an amazing, if impossibly competitive, industry to go into. I intend to learn as much as I can from everybody in the industry that I come into contact with, as I believe that you never stop learning.

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Student Spotlight: Celia Tolan

dance student from STEPS

Celia Tolan at The School at Steps’ Holiday Performance, photo by Eduardo Patino

How did you first get interested in dance?

My older sister, Hannah, danced at The School at Steps. As a 2 ½ year old, I remember sitting in my stroller outside Debbie Roshe’s musical theatre class every Thursday night watching her dance. I loved watching the class and knew I had to dance too. Soon after, my mom signed me up for tap, ballet, and jazz classes where I discovered dance was my passion.

How many classes a week do you take now, and what kind are they?

Right now I take twelve classes a week. In addition to the five ballet, three pointe and two Horton classes, I take jazz and musical theatre. I hope to add in hip hop and tap if I can fit them in my schedule!

What is it about dancing that you enjoy most?

I enjoy the freedom, empowerment, and positive energy I feel when I’m dancing. As I enter the studio, my mind travels to an entirely different world, where I am able to express myself in various ways. When performing on a stage, I feel empowered, as though I could do anything! No matter what, when I dance I feel as though I am pushing away any negative energy and creating something positive. I love movement – it makes me feel so alive!

What is it that you find most difficult about dance?

What I find most difficult about dance is finding the confidence to believe I can learn new steps and routines. I sometimes think to myself ‘I can’t do that’ when learning new choreography, or trying to hit that triple pirouette. But when I doubt myself, or lose my confidence, I know I need to tell myself “Just relax, you can do it. Just go for it.” And I do!

What have you learned about yourself from dance?

Before I started dancing I felt as though I knew very little about myself or what I was capable of. Now that I have been dancing for 9 ½ years at The School at Steps, I have begun to understand so much more about myself. I have learned I am strong, passionate, disciplined, and focused. I use these four assets throughout not just my dance career, but in my daily life.

What advice do you have for other dance students?

There are two things I always tell myself. The first is not to worry about anything that’s happening in studio or out of the studio. Use dance to free your mind and body, and just have fun when you dance! And the second is when you think you have given it your all, when you feel as though you are done, dig even deeper within yourself and leave it all on stage – or in the studio! You will love the feeling it gives you! Most importantly, love dance as much as dance loves you!


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 Programs, 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.

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Student Spotlight: Nathan Owen

Nathan Owen, originally from Essex, UK, is now a resident of Huntsville, USA. At the age of 19 he moved to the United States to obtain a Bachelor in Nursing in Keokuk, Iowa. However, Nathan changed his degree to Theatre in Denison, Texas where he gained an Associates in Theatre. He now attends Sam Houston State where he will earn his BFA in Musical Theatre.

Can you tell readers how you became involved with dance? 

Nathan Owen

Nathan Owen

I had not taken a professional dance class before the age of 21, but I had always had a love for dance from an early age. I have inclined towards musical theater since childhood but never been within the dance chorus, always just singing and acting. After moving to the United States at the age of 19 to pursue a career in nursing, I sat in on an open audition for the theater department, was persuaded to audition and was subsequently cast in a small role, but was told if I switched majors to theater I could receive scholarships! So naturally I went back to my first passion of acting at Grayson college in Denison, Texas.

When the next season came I was cast as lead, Luther Billis in South Pacific, and was awarded an Irene Ryan nomination for region VI. I traveled to Louisiana to compete and this is where I saw two productions from Sam Houston State University. Its production of Enron blew me away and I immediately knew this was the school for me. I auditioned in April 2013 and was accepted on my first attempt, even though I stopped during my dance audition due to my lack of training. Being accepted onto the musical theater program here has really expanded my horizons more than I could have ever imagined. Within my first year I have taken multiple dance techniques including ballet, jazz, tap, aerial and theater workshop where we learn stylized dance from within the theater work or whole routines from the stages of Broadway, West End or movies.

What do you find you like best about dance class?

When it comes to dance classes the thing I like most about them is the discovery you make about yourself and what you are capable of. If you go to math three times a week, you don’t have these moments of pure excitement like when you hit a 13 part riff perfectly in sync with your whole tap class, or the first time you do a 360 release from the aviator in aerial! I will never stop being amazed at what I can do if I just put my time and energy into it.

What is the hardest part about dance for you?

The hardest thing about dance for me, is walking in with 30 other musical theater majors and being taught a combination, then having to pick it up in 15-20 minutes and regurgitate it in front of all my extremely talented peers and professors!

What advice would you give to other dancers?

As a new dancer I would say two things; one, it’s never too late to start learning. I have met people who have been dancing for 15 years and come to university and tried a new dance style, and it has an impact and improves all aspects of their dance by gaining an even greater understanding of their body.

My second point would be, don’t let dance be a blood sport. Auditions and competition should never divide this community, we have enough people in our lives saying NO! Or that you can’t do it professionally. So I would say to you out there, let the love of the arts strengthen our ties. Let it create empathy for one another because we all know how hard a ‘no’ is, but also the elation of a ‘yes’. So why not be cast in a chorus of their happiness, instead of the lead of your sadness.

How has dance changed your life?

Dance has changed my life for the better in so many ways. I now have a much greater appreciation of the craft of musical theater and the depth that dance can have within it. From the portrayal of story with movement, to the understanding of dance’s influence within the art, such as Agnes de Mille’s Oklahoma or Bob Fosse’s Cabaret. Dance has broadened my horizons further than I could ever have imagined and I can’t wait to see where it takes me.

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Student Spotlight: Melo Ludwig

Today for our Student Spotlight we have a pre-professional student from The School at Steps. Meet Melo Ludwig!

Melo Ludwig, photo by A. Greenwald

Melo Ludwig, photo by A. Greenwald

When did you start dancing?

I started dancing when I was two years old.  I took a “Mommy and Me” ballet and tap class and it was lots of fun!  I continued taking ballet and tap each year and, as I got older, I started taking jazz too.  After moving to New York City last year, I immediately signed up for classes at The School at Steps and was invited to audition for their Pre-Professional Program.  I am just finishing up my first year in the program and absolutely love it!

Did you like it right away or did it take a little time?

I loved dancing right from the very start!  I have always been the kind of girl who dances everywhere; at home, in grocery stores!  The first time I danced on a stage was at my first recital when I was three years old.  My mom was waiting in the wings and, when I came running back to her after my performance, I flew into her arms and squealed, “I love dancing under all those lights!”

What do you like the best about dance?

This is such a hard question, I’m not sure I can pick just one thing!  I love how dance makes me feel like I can do anything!  My body feels strong, powerful, and happy.  I love going to class and look forward to all my classes each week.  Most people don’t like Mondays but they’re actually my favorite day of the week because I get to go back to ballet class after a long weekend with no classes.  Performing is another thing I like best about dancing.  I love to be on stage in front of an audience!

What do you think is hard about dance?

It’s hard to watch older dancers doing certain steps that I can’t do yet because my body isn’t ready for them.  I’m really excited to one day go on pointe, but it’s so difficult to be patient and wait for that time to come.

What do you think is easy about dance?

Staying focused in class is easy for me because I love dancing so much.  I also find it easy to learn and remember combinations, probably because they are so much fun. My secret to remembering them is that I practice all the time!

What does it feel like when you are moving to the music?

It makes me feel alive, happy and free!  Sometimes I close my eyes to feel the music and I feel like it flows through me.  I make up my own moves to songs and let the music take me to another world.  I listen to music as I go to sleep but, sometimes, I literally have to get out of bed and start dancing around my room.  It’s hard to listen to music without dancing!

How do your teachers help you dance better?

My teachers are the best!  They explain things really well and give me good corrections to help me become a better dancer.  They are incredible dancers themselves and to watch them dance inspires me!  They also teach great combinations that I love to go home and practice.

Do you think you will dance for a long time? Why or why not?

I think I will dance forever! A dream of mine is to dance professionally and I can only hope it will come true one day! I can’t imagine my life without dance.

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Student Spotlight: Lorian Kurzweil

Dance Student Lorian Kurzweil (pictured right) with friend

Dance Student Lorian Kurzweil (pictured right), with friend

 

Assistant Editor Jessica Wilson interviewed dance student Lorian Kurzweil for us to learn more about her journey in dance…

1. Can you tell readers how you became involved with dance?

I first asked my parents if I could have dance lessons when I was about 4 years old, because I was jealous of my friends who got to change into their pink leotards and walk across the road from my nursery to our local dance school. I started off with Ballet and Tap and immediately loved learning with my new friends and teachers. As I grew up I joined Modern and then Jazz classes too, always motivated by the idea of working my way up through each exam. I loved watching the older girls in higher grades; I thought they were absolutely amazing and wanted to be just like them.

2. What do you find you like best about dance class?

I love the buzz it gives me to feel I am improving my performance each week. If you push yourself to always work hard, you are the one who is going to benefit from it and feel stronger the next time you try something. I also love how I can completely zone out during a dance class, forgetting anything else I might be worrying about.

3. What is the hardest part about dance for you?

Overcoming limitations has always been quite difficult for me, whether it is to do with physique/facility of my body or general confidence in class. However, passing exams has always been a reassurance that if you work hard enough, you will be able to achieve your goals, which is an invaluable lesson.

Lorian Kurzweil in performance

Lorian Kurzweil in performance

4. What advice would you give to other dancers?

At every dance environment I have experienced–be it at my childhood dance school, local ballet company, university and so on–it has always struck me how low self-confidence can hinder your overall dance performance and ability. If you’re hung up on your body or don’t believe in yourself, it can really prevent you from being as good as you could otherwise be.
Whenever I have come across a dancer who is comfortable in their own body, they seem to be able to focus on what is important and reach their full potential in dance. My advice would be that you should never simply accept your physical limitations and give up: I truly believe that, with enough practice, you can overcome them and achieve amazing things. You should never stop yourself from trying for something just because you don’t think you’re good enough! I learnt this after I spent many months beating myself up about my ballet, which I realised was silly after passing my Advanced 2 exam!

Lorian Kurzweil

Lorian Kurzweil

5. How has dance changed your life?

Dance has brought an incredible amount of new and inspiring people into my life, some of whom I know will be lifelong friends. Looking back on the years I spent at my little dance school in Brentwood, England, I can safely say that I had the time of my life. It has also taken me into a new career at the Royal Academy of Dance, which I never would have imagined I’d be capable of. I now know that I am going to dedicate my future to bringing the joy of dance to as many students as possible!

BIO: Lorian Kurzweil is currently studying at the Royal Academy of Dance in London for a BA in Ballet Education. She is in her first year at the RAD and has previously danced with The Chelmsford Ballet Company, an amateur company which prides itself on its professional standards.

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